Monday, July 11, 2011

The Writing Mind

Writer's evolve, true? Our writing never stays the same from the initial moments we decided we'd sit down and begin (more importantly finish) our first project. So it figures each novel we publish would be different in some substantial way. But I've been facing a conundrum recently about my writing. It's not so much that my writing itself has evolved, but my life process has changed. I've been facing the dreaded writer's block -- gasp! Not because my muse has disappeared. I'm pretty sure she's there smiling indulgently at me. And so is her partner. (My consultants are a female/male team. Aren't you jealous?) The block per se isn't the problem, it's that my mind has begun to work differently.

Chalk it up to life maturity or a devolution of maturity. The complete obsession that my brain had with my story lines, character development and plotting minutia has softened. My life has diversified. I can't blame this on children. I had children when I began writing. The same number and even younger, so the distractions were there. Yet the hyper focus on my stories has shifted. I'm less obsessive, the helpful traces of anxiety lessening. Who'd have thought that losing one's anxious edge would be a detriment? But it's true. And for a fantasy writer and world builder whose stories depend on constant building, revising and layering of intricacies, not to mention pushing the envelope of imagination, this is devastating.

I am still writing. And ideas still come; growing in the organic way from the initial outlines I've developed. But it's slower and less predictable. And my mind insists on thinking of other life matters as I drive around in my car, shuttling my children from place to place. Driving used to be a rich source of brainstorming time for me, but I can't seem to keep my focus on the gold ring as I zoom through traffic.

In many ways I'm a more balanced, happier person who has grown despite herself. (Not saying there isn't a long road ahead. That's true for us all.) But I am sad as well that the typical tempo to my writing has become altered. Although I'm still determined to find a new pattern to it. I am absolutely sure that it is meant to be a part of my life.

So tell me, has anyone else experienced a basic change to their writing mind? How have you readjusted?


Wynter Daniels said...

Hmm. I definitely have times when I am less prolific and sometimes after taking a particularly helpful writer's class or reading a great craft book, my process changes. That has slowed me down because I have to think more or at least think differently about what I am writing. Good luck getting back on track.

Jina Bacarr said...

Michelle, writing--like a relationship--develops over time. It's like a marriage.

The first blush of excitement when you can't write fast enough, then the commitment " 'till deadline do us part," the reality of having to get up everyday and face the difficulty of making your page count, then the editing and rewriting.

Yes, like a marriage, writing has its up and downs; and like a marriage, sometimes you need to "rediscover" each other...a vacay away from the kids, job, etc.

So maybe what you need is to take a break, let the wells fill up again...give yourself the chance to read, write, research...without judging your work.

A second honeymoon with just you and your muses...and a grande mocha frappuccino!

Michelle Polaris said...

Thanks Wynter and Jina. I will keep searching for inspiration. At least the writing is not at a dead halt. I think another part of the problem is that I'm totally off of caffeine. You'd be amazed what that drug does to ones mind. It's kind of scary that it makes such a difference. Not that this says good things for all the rest of the writing world addicted to brew.

Dalton Diaz said...

You've just described what it was like for me BL vs AL (before Lyme, after Lyme). My characters no longer try to take over. I had to learn how to hunt them down and make them talk.