Writer’s Lincoln Log

After my writer’s retreat in late spring, I pretty much stopped doing things. Well, creative things anyway.

I stopped writing. Granted, I had just put that final polish on Hot Mess #1, now no longer a hot mess. Hot Mess #2 had its first read-through and has a rat’s nest of a plot hole, and I Just didn’t have the energy to sort out. Hot Mess #3 was getting dark, and I started to genuinely worry that maybe I was taking some kind of psychological angst out on my characters. I didn’t bother blogging, I barely read, I didn’t take any classes, didn’t check in with my writing communities on twitter or wordpress, just kinda… drifted.

This went on for two months.

In an attempt to get rid of my pesky cash and find some inspiration, I subscribed to MasterClass. You may have seen MasterClass advertised. Basically it’s a series of online lectures delivered by experts. DeadMau5 teaches music mixing, for example. Stephen Curry teaches shooting a basketball. Steve Martin teaches comedy. For my interest, AMAZING writers teach writing. Malcom Gladwell. Margaret Atwood. Judy Blume. (I also have a love for cooking and a fiancee who loves to eat, so I know I’ll enjoy the hell out of Gordon Ramsay’s class too.)

I started with R.L. Stine of the Fear Street and Goosebumps fame. I voraciously consumed those books as a child and they unquestionably shaped my love of reading and writing. At one point. Bob (I feel comfortable calling him Bob now, we’re bros) talked about Writer’s Block.

Do I have Writer’s Block? I wondered. I have no lack of ideas. If anything, my little sabbatical blossomed some amazing new ideas that I was anxious to start writing. It felt like I had the materials to build something, but just hadn’t. It wasn’t writer’s block, I decided. It was writer’s lincoln logs. I knew once I started the possibilities were endless, it just didn’t look like much at this junction.

R.L. Stine is a great advocate of outlines, and my first 2.5 novels were conceived and written in the time-honored “pantser” vibe of sitting down and writing and letting the thing come together on the fly. There are merits to both pantsing and plotting, and I can go through that in a later blog entry, but I gave Hot Mess #3 a hug and started to outline a new novel. I was surprised and delighted at how the outline, character descriptions, and ideas flowed.

With this blog entry, I’m saying goodbye to my writer’s lincoln log and look forward to going into late summer and fall (and eventually NaNo) with some great ideas and renewed energy.

How do you combat writer’s block (or writer’s Lincoln Log?) Share in the comments!

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