Writer’s Block or Writer’s Withdrawal?

I started writing Fall into Winter, my book of erotic novellas, February 2010. I had been writing non-stop for a few months and then suddenly hit a wall. This wall manifested itself as two weeks of staring at my laptop—typing, deleting, retyping, and walking away at the end of each day no further ahead in my manuscript.  I had been going at a manic pace up until that point—1500 words per day at six, sometimes seven days a week for close to three months.  I was addicted to writing, and the words had spilled out of me with little effort, so much so that when the wellspring of ideas suddenly dried up, I became a nervous wreck.

If it sounds like I’m comparing the inability to write with the feeling of withdrawing from drug use—I am. Sure, I’m using a sledgehammer to illustrate a point, but that’s how I felt about it at the time.

Writing was my cocaine—I craved it, was obsessed by it. The rest of my life had fallen by the wayside, replaced by the high of snorting lines of text from a page, knowing that each day brought me closer and closer to my goal of writer’s nirvana—a finished product in the form of a book.

I recalled mumbling incoherently to myself those first days when I couldn’t meet my word count (yes, I’m one of those writers who thinks word count is important, at least for now), trying to calm down, trying not to panic. I reassured myself that every writer must go through a dry spell. I was certain I would get my mojo back, but when? During that period of unproductiveness, I developed a nervous twitch. As I positioned my hands over the keyboard, willing my fingers to type words I’d be happy with, I’d make a peculiar shaking motion with my head, resembling one of  those bobblehead dolls. I reasoned I needed some sort of  physical movement to loosen the words stuck against the walls of my brain. What I probably needed was a shrink, but I digress.

Call it writer’s block or whatever you like, but I knew I was suffering from withdrawal—writer’s withdrawal. Without my fix of it, I was showing symptoms of:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Social isolation

My writing crashed with my story “The Norwegian.” The male lead was a hot, sexy Norwegian biathlete. I could see him, hear his voice, and even smell his scent. That’s how real he was to me. What I struggled with was the female lead. Who was she? What was her conflict?  How did she meet the male lead? Because I loved the male character so much, how could I write a female that was a match for him and real at the same time?

You know the old saying that writers should write about what they know? Well, that tidbit of information got me over the shakes. I channeled my angst into the story by answering the questions I had been struggling with:

  • Who was she? A writer
  • What was her conflict? She had writer’s block
  • How did she meet the male lead? She holed herself up in a winter cabin to complete her latest book when he showed up.

I got over the hump of my writer’s withdrawal after that, and you know what the great thing about it was? Catharsis. I felt so much stronger after breaking down that wall.

Stay sexy,

Eden


Writing Challenge:  WRITER’S BLOCK
  1. Second Tuesday 2: Words Shy of Daylight – Alberta Ross
  2. 12 & a 1/2 Ways to Deal with Writer’s Block – Ruchira Mandal
  3. Second Tuesday – Writer’s Block – Patti Larsen
  4. Iain the Cat opines on Writer’s Block – Jeannie
  5. Using Writer’s Block as an Excuse to not Write – Rebeca Schilller
  6. Writer’s Block – Gary Varner
  7. Second Tuesday – Writer’s Block and the Tooth Fairy – Annetta Ribken
  8. Writer’s Block or Writer’s Withdrawal? – Eden Baylee
  9. Breaking Past Writer’s Block – Elise VanCise
This post is part of a monthly writing challenge known as “Second Tuesday,” written by members of the Fellow Writers’ Facebook group. Click on any link above to read another “Second Tuesday” post. Enjoy!
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24 Comments

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24 responses to “Writer’s Block or Writer’s Withdrawal?

  1. john peck

    Two years writing business proposals for a big professional services firm got me over writer’s block in a hurry. 48 hour deadlines on 50 page detail-laden docs with charts and graphics will do that. Sure, some days I’m better than others, but now at the office I just get the ideas down and go back to improve later on. In my business, rewriting is the secret to good writing. Not really the same, I know, but it works for me.

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    • Hi John, thanks for your comment. It’s important to find out what works for you. Being both a prolific and a good writer isn’t easy, no matter the genre. I don’t like to give myself the luxury of time otherwise I would still be writing my first book and anally rewriting it to death. That’s the main reason I use word counts daily – need to move the story along. In any other job, the work has to get done, and since I treat writing as a job, writer’s block is an extravagance I can’t afford.
      Eden

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  2. I so totally agree with this, Eden. John is exactly right. Clients don’t care about your wimwams at the keyboard, and missing a deadline is a career killer. This type of mind-set is invaluable in writing fiction, and I talked about this very thing on today’s post.

    GMTA. 🙂

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  3. I love your use of being addicted to coke to being addicted to writing. But in a certain way it is so true. That’s exactly how I felt when I first started writing. I’d spend hours after getting home from work just sitting in front of my laptop, pounding out words at a break neck speed. When I first hit writer’s block, I had some of the very symptoms you describe. After about a week or two, I realized I needed to get my brain engaged in something else. So I read, made jewelry, etc. That helped. I also set up a writing schedule so I would have time to write and time to spend with family and friends, not to mention time to spend with my non-writing self.

    Great topic, Eden!

    🙂

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  4. I’m there now. Writing two books at once–one a sequel to my thriller and one a collaboration with my cover artist. I have so much to do I feel a little overwhelmed. The good news is it’s an easy fix: close off the world for a few days and sit my ass down and write. That usually gets my groove back. Good post, Eden.

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  5. Pingback: Writer’s Block « inkmusings

  6. Pingback: Using Writer's Block as an Excuse to not Write | Rebeca Schiller

  7. Pingback: Iain the Cat opines on Writer’s Block | The stuff in between

  8. Pingback: Second Tuesday – Writer’s Block and the Tooth Fairy « Word Webbing – Literary Home of Annetta Ribken

  9. Nice, Eden. Always fascinating to read a writer’s story who has gone through the challenge, was able to self-examine, and realize a way out. Seeing the problem is easy; figuring out (for each of us) what a solution is, not so easy. Here’s hoping you’ll be able to laugh in the face of writer’s block, should he (or she) dare to show up again…regardless how sexy he or she might appear… 😉

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  10. so know the addiction – haven’t had withdrawal yet – hoping I wont – but well done for turning it around

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  11. I loved this. It was like a novel within a novel. You nailed it. 🙂

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  12. Yes. Addiction. But once you break free… it’s so easy to lose the way again. Why are the good addictions the ones that are so hard to continue, damn it? Why is our gift so hard to believe in?
    Love the Norwegian… something for this writer to dream… ahem… think about. 🙂

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  13. Great post! It is addictive, and there are days that you really want to shake that monkey off your back. The worst part is that you want to write, but you’ve written yourself in a corner and then what?

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  14. Interesting tip about doing the female lead. Lovely post. And oh lovely male lead too.;)

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