Writer’s Cramp

Everyone has heard of writers block but there is another malady that is less known outside of writing circles: Writer’s cramp.

Okay I may have just totally made that up but it’s a good analogy for what I’ve been feeling latley. Think of it like going back to the gym for the first time on over a year (something quite a few can relate to right now). Those mucles that you used to exercise on a regular basis have been neglected and they re not happy with the sudden shock of being put through their paces. You’ve maybe put on a few pounds since last time because it’s cream egg season and you have to get as many in as you can before they vanish again. So without thinking, you hop back on the treadmill and off you go. Five minutes later you’re being knifed in the ribs by an unseen gremlin.

Well writing can be very much like that as I discovered recently. The writing process can be very much like exercising. The more you do it, the stronger you get and the better your endurance. Spend enough time away though, your fitness level will start to drop down and you need to take a few steps back so you don’t do yourself a mischief. This is what happens after a prolonged bought of writers block. Like the one I’ve been going through for the past year.

The block finally shifted about a week ago after what was a pretty horrific dream. As awful as it was, this dream did grab my block by the throat, drag it into a dark alleyway and nick its wallet. The muse had returned and to be honest I don’t think she’s been taking her meds. So here I am once again writing. After two years of working on childrens stories, I’ve returned to my roots and started on a new horror novel. And you know what, I’m loveing every second of it.

Until the cramp sets in that is. Instead of being stabbed in the ribs like you would in the gym, this one punches you in the brain. Like right inside the brain. It all started like normal; a bit of research, make notes, plan things out, the usual. Then comes the day to start writing and get these wild ideas out of the meaty blob in my head and onto the screen. One sentence, then two, everything is going well and suddenly it hits you. You can’t remember how to convert those ideas into words. You can see it in your head but the pathways that go from your brain to your fingers are running on a go slow. What you have on the screen is not what you have in your head. All those bad habits you had trained yourself out of are coming back. Things like editing on the go and being able to filter out the 200 ideas that are all fighting for your attention.

So here I am writing for the first time in ages and I haven’t even managed to finish the prologue yet because the damn story keeps changing. And every new idea needs to be tied in with what’s already been written. It hurts but if you take it slow and steady, you can get back to that level of writer fitness before the block came on. Slow and steady is the key. If this ever hits you, the best advice I can give you is to let yourself work back up. Don’t be hard on yourself if the words don’t come like they used to straight away. You will get there again.

Inspiration Cares Not For Your Schedule

It was sometime around 10:30 last night that I woke with a start and an uncontrollable need to write. There was nothing I could do to stop it. After months of going back and forth with ideas, I finally had the ending to Maidens Song figured out (just the ending mind, there is still a large gap in the middle). During those harried and chaotic 45 minutes I started to remember why we do this. People don’t really think of writing as being an extreme sport, but the adrenaline rush I felt was the equal of anything I have experienced on any thrill ride.

I was lucky that I had my laptop nearby during that little episode. Inspiration seems to rarely come at a time of our choosing, and even rarer do I seem to be prepared for it. Hell half the time I don’t even have a pen on me (I know, I know). For a while I took to carrying a small digital voice recorder. Until, that is, I forgot to take it out of my pocket one day and washed it along with my delicates. My iTouch is certainly a better choice but it’s keyboard is too fiddly for taking quick notes. The best idea still seems to be the good old fashioned pad and paper approach. As you might expect, I’ve washed a few of those in my time as well.

Maybe I’m over thinking this whole thing. I just hate to lose good ideas when they come. If I could choose a time and place I would. So my question of the week is: What do you do when inspiration hits?