Monday, 30 September 2013
I write in spells. At times I might write a dozen hours a day for over a week, and then I might not write anything again for several weeks. Sometimes I might write for a few hours a day for weeks. I find I cannot force myself to write when I feel the block. If I do, the writing comes out contrived and not feeling right. Inspiration has to come to me naturally. I just have to leave the manuscript aside and do something else until the words and ideas start to flow again.
I hit the dreaded block several times during the course of writing The Reckless Engineer.
I do a couple of things when I hit the Writer's Block. The first thing I try is setting the manuscript aside and reading a good book. I hit a very difficult spot just before the scene in Chapter 15 of The Reckless Engineer. I felt that the part of chapter 15 I had written was dull and was slowing down the pace of the plot. Try as I might I could not think of a way to maneuver the plot to pick up the pace again. At this point I decided to put the writing aside and read a book. I read two Agatha Christie books, At Bertram’s Hotel and Cards on the Table, at this point. Then, when I returned to my writing about a week later, I decided it was time to bring the character Jack Connor home. I had kept him in custody until that point. I then deleted the part of that chapter I had previously written and started writing in this new direction. Everything came easily to me after that insight into how I should progress the plot which had to occur to me in a moment of inspiration in its own time.
I reached a second nasty block when I needed to write the scenes with Jeremy at a Portsmouth seaside hotel, The Royal Atlantic. This time I knew the plot, but the prose was not coming out right. I had moved out of Portsmouth by then, but I decided to take three days off and check into The Royal Beach Hotel in Southsea, Portsmouth to see if I could get the words flowing again. I did the same again, volunteering at a back-stage to help a friend at the Gielgud theatre, to write the scene set in the London West End.
I do not write while I am at the scene. I just immerse myself in the environment and absorb the people, the sense of the surroundings, the sounds, and the views. I interact with the people and I might take some photographs. I come out of the scene and do something entirely different for about a week, letting the ideas and the images work their magic at the back of my mind. Then when I sit down to write again the words just flow naturally.
These two techniques – reading a good book or two and immersing myself in the scenery I want to write about – have always helped me out of brief spells of the Writer's Block. They have never failed to get me writing again.