Excuses, Excuses: Writer’s Block

A while back, when I was working at Tulane University as an editorial manager, I remember interviewing a promising candidate for a job writing feature stories for our magazine. Her clips were good. She seemed marginally sane (always a concern in New Orleans). A sure bet, right?
Then she lost the job with one slip of the tongue. “I tend to do a lot of my writing in the evenings,” she said. “My muse tends to visit more then.”

Resume=round file. I didn’t have time for no stinkin’ muse.

I don’t know how many of you are in my boat, but I imagine there are quite a few. I work a full-time job. I don’t have kids, but I do have a demanding 85-year-old to contend with. I have personal stuff pulling at me just like everyone else. My writing time is very, very limited.

So here’s the hard, cold truth. If you’re in the boat with me, you do not have the luxury of waiting for a muse. You don’t have time for no stinkin’ writer’s block.

Now that I’m writing fiction and trying to make a second career out of it, I don’t write on hard deadlines unless my publisher has revisions. I write out of sheer desperation. If I only have two hours a day to write, I can’t afford to wait on some muse to come wafting in the window.

Do I get frustrated? Sure. Do I throw out a bunch of crap? Sure, but not as much as one might think. Do I have days when I don’t write because I’m sick, or working overtime, or have too many blog entries to write? Oh, yeah. And let’s not even mention Twitter, the most addictive time-suck of the universe, created by Satan expressly to to derail promising writing careers.

My cure for writer’s block? Just sit down, butt in chair, and write already.

Want to read what some other writers think about muses and writer’s block? My brainstorming partner over at Wastepaper Prose asked an amazing group of published YA authors their thoughts on this very issue. You can read their answers here and here. But leave a comment before you go. Am I being a total author bitch here? Sorry. It’s 11:30 p.m., and I need to check my Tweets.

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

6 thoughts on “Excuses, Excuses: Writer’s Block

  1. That’s why I work on a couple short stories and a novel at the same time. If I get ‘stuck’ on one, I’ll work on a different one. I’m always writing, at least when I have time too. Sleep is very important when you have a less than 2 year old and a 6-week old.

  2. A few years ago, I wrote 3 pages that were AWESOME. So awesome, they wouldn’t need changing at all.

    A month later, I thought they were all crap.

    So I figure, whether I wait 3 months for ‘inspiration’ or hack it out during commercial breaks while watching Gilmore Girls, it all ends up in the same place in the first draft. The only difference is, hacking it out gives me more pages to work with.

    As an added bonus, when those moments of pure genius do come calling, I’m better prepared to get them down.

  3. You’re right, Suzanne. If we waited for our muse, books would be a long time coming.

    I find that once I get into it, the muse jumps on for the ride anyway. Doesn’t like to be left behind.

  4. I am in the process of training my muse to meet me in my office every morning at 4:15 and inspire me until 7am. On the days she is cranky, I slog along anyway.

    What I have found, is that after revisions and polishing- I can’t tell the difference between the pages I produced when inspired and those that I produced one agonizing word at a time.

    They all look and sound the same.

  5. Good point!–My muse does show up often when i just start writing and get in a groove.

    And if not, Trish, I have found the same thing to be true. Whatever my muse ignores in the first drafts, it shows up for in the revisions.