I know what you're thinking. What could possibly be worse than not being able to get words out? Well, getting lots of words out while knowing they are all crap! When this happens to me it usually results in me worrying through the draft and coming out the other end with nothing that's even remotely useful. I know it's easier to fix the words that are on the page than to create new ones but these words are unsalvageable and in my opinion. What I'm saying is, usually you can write through writer's block by writing something new or even just writing in a diary. You can't write through word vomit. At least I haven't been able to.
I have suffered from word vomit pretty much anytime there has been a lot of pressure on my writing and I let myself get behind. NaNoWriMo is a good example. If I start out that first day and write 4k words this isn't going to happen to me. If I don't reach the 1667 words you need to make it to 50k though, it's possible. If my house is a mess and I have other responsibilities outside of writing, like a day job or children and I think I'm not doing my best it happens. Unfortunately, every time it did happen I would write a few hundred words and then call it quits for the day. I would go about life and try not to think about writing or deadlines. It did work but it was slow and usually results in pushed deadlines which just make me feel worse about myself and more prone to this particular ailment.
Recently, while listening to a podcast by Joanna Penn, her guest said he wrote for 8-10 hours a day. After the jealousy had ebbed, he started talking about his writing and he said something that completely changed the game for me. He said you don't have to be at the keyboard or even have a pen in your hand to be writing. As long as you are improving your craft you are writing. Reading counts. Watching TV can count. Going for a walk outside or sitting in the mall and people watching. Going out lunch with an old friend and catching up.
We are all slaves to this idea that words are the only things that matter in this business. We're not wrong but quality words are worth so much more than vomit. The stress of knowing every word is crap can make you run from not only your WIP but from writing altogether.
If you start to feel word vomit coming on, take a break from the keyboard or the pen but don't stop writing. Don't stop working through scenes as you drive to work and looking at what makes the characters in that TV show so relatable. Don't stop admiring your favorite authors ability to weave words into a beautiful canvas. Don't quit. Just give yourself permission to step away from your computer or note pad.
Writing the first draft of your novel can seem like a daunting and even impossible task. I have good news though! Look at all the books out there. That's all the evidence you need to know it's possible. And if they can do it, you can too! The following are tips to help you get from blank page to a drafted manuscript.
Marissa Frosch is the head of marketing at Amphibian Press and all writes under the pseudonym Cameron J Quinn. She is the author of The Starsboro Chronicles. She can be found on Facebook, Twitter, blog and her website.
The writing Process
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