Desk-staring v. Writer’s Block

I spent more time staring at the blank space of the page this morning than I wanted to. Not that I ever want to, but sometimes it’s necessary to regroup or reset. Today, though, it went for quite a long while.

So you had writer’s block, then?

Well, no. At least, not as I define it. For me, writer’s block is when I can’t think of anything to write. At the very most, that kind of situation will last me about 4 minutes, and that’s on the extreme outside. I can always find something to write in that time, some new direction to take things, some unexpected discovery, some engaging (or not) dialogue, something.

If I’m in the middle of a story, what comes out on the page may be entirely separate from said story, but these are few and far between. Once in a story, I’m usually in all the way to the end.

So how is ‘not writing’ not the same as writer’s block?

Well, when I’m ‘not writing’ as I was this morning, it’s because I have too many ideas, too many possible directions to take (or follow) the story. In some cases, this is restricted to a particular scene, but in the vast majority of situations, I’m following the threads of these various possibilities out to their end-points, to see how they will influence the story and characters at large (and often not just for a given book, but for future related stories, as with NGD and APAL).

So it was this morning. After 45 minutes or so above the garage, wrapped in 4 layers and huddled over a long-since-empty cup of tea, I finally found the right choice. Of course, I had to go get another cup of tea and defrost my fingers before I got much farther, but I figured it out and was soon back to scribbling and scratching away.