last month has been an odd one for me. I'm not sure it's writer's block, at
least not in the traditional sense, as I've still been writing, but the problem
is making progress.
I suspect, a lot of writers, when lockdown first started, I thought it would be
a boon to productivity - after all, I'm no longer spending an hour or more
commuting, time which could be better spent writing. I quickly discovered the
opposite - I was writing more slowly.
put a large part of this down to screen fatigue - now I'm working from home, I
spend most of the day either staring at a screen or delivering training
virtually, using Teams as a platform. By the end of the day, I've been finding
the thought of staring at a screen for another couple of hours less than
thrilling. Some evenings, I've not bothered at all and resorted to pen and
paper. I now have quite a lot of potential material for future stories (assuming
I can decipher my own handwriting) and have ideas for another couple of books.
I've still been productive - I've launched a book this year, sold a couple of
short stories, written quite a few more, finished editing my next novel and
finished writing the one after that. The love of writing is still there, but
I'm now struggling with new work. It's not a lack of ideas - I've got what I
think are a couple of good ideas for books, one a YA novel and the other a
gritty crime thriller set locally (Edinburgh, Scotland). I've got several key
scenes noted down (which is about as much planning as I ever do - I'm a
dyed-in-the-wool pantser) but I'm struggling to make headway with either of
written the beginning of the crime novel four or five times now, each time
getting to around 5000 words before getting stopped and deciding to start
again. I decided to leave it to one side for a little while, hoping my
sub-conscious would get to work on it, and tackle the YA novel instead. Had
even more material sketched out for this (the original idea was a short story I
wrote a year or so back, but it kept tapping me on the shoulder demanding to be
expanded) but I hit exactly the same problem - write so much, then start again,
tackling it from a different angle.
to say the least.
finally struck me just the other day. This is how Covid has affected my writing.
I don't know how best to tackle it. I'm fortunate in that I only know a couple
of people who've had it (one mild case, one more serious long-term case) and
none of them are close relatives. Do I write without making any reference to
it? Seems like that would do a great disservice to all those who have been
affected by it. Do I only make a passing reference, and set my books in the
near future, when (hopefully) things are more or less back to normal? But if
so, how much do I mention, and what adjustments do I need to consider? In the
case of the YA novel, which is set around fifty years in the future, I'm
wondering how best to reference it.
good news is I've started to make some progress. I've settled on setting the
crime novel a year or so ahead of now and I'm relying on small references,
mainly in dialogue, to give the text what feels like a suitably authentic
setting. I've not written a huge amount yet (around 3k words) but instead of
feeling like I have to force each word out, they're coming with relative ease.
Even better, I can see the shape of the story unfolding before me, and I'm
feeling an urgency to write that's been absent for the past few months. Fingers
crossed, I'll be able to maintain that momentum.