Wednesday, July 29, 2009


I’m sure that every writer, at one time or another in his or her creative life, hits that brick wall where the prose simply won’t flow.

I’ve just hit mine. Again.

It’s been a terribly frustrating time for me, beginning and then discarding a number of stories over the past few weeks - although nothing is ever truly lost and ideas, characters, scenes and concepts that I simply couldn’t make work once before have a way of worming themselves into my subconscious and re-emerging at a later date.

As such, I am taking some small consolation that even the false starts and pages that go nowhere have become part and parcel of my writing method. In a vain and vague attempt to kick-start my muse, I went over some old files and discovered that several recently published stories had their genesis in earlier pieces that somehow fell apart during the writing but nonetheless provided a seed for later tales.

However it is just that - small consolation.

In part, too, it’s to do with my notions of how a writer should be. My mythical version of the writer has him or her sitting at their typewriter/ pad/ computer at nine o’clock every morning, full of inspiration and wonderful ideas, writing two thousand words before lunch, another two thousand in the afternoon and then off to some wonderful literary gala to chat endlessly with other enormously talented people about the business of writing.

I know that it doesn’t really work that way and that, in reality, writing can be a difficult process where every word has to be torn out and put on the page. All too often, the business of real life intrudes upon the creation of fiction and this is as it should be, I suppose, since nothing is ever created in a vacuum and every writer – no matter how fantastic the work they create – needs to be grounded in reality every now and again.

What makes this particular lean creative time doubly frustrating for me, though, is the fact that I’ve been able to intellectualise it.

Of course, the only real way to across a creative desert is to work through it – let those false starts and unsatisfying pages happen, let the characters get away from you and attempt to live their own lives. When I first started writing again a few years ago I suffered exactly the same problems, where nothing seemed to make sense, or at least nothing seemed to make the sense that I wanted it to make.

Or to put it in another fashion. The only way to write is to write.

There I go intellectualising things again.


  1. Would you like to borrow my sledge hammer?

  2. I've hit this wall myself more often than not. In fact, it's the one thing that has probably kept me from getting any kind of fiction into a publishable form. Although rationally, I know every writer faces this, it's nice to hear, in a sadistic way, that even the successful ones do from time to time. :)

    As you say, work through it. Once my personal life settles down that's exactly what I intend to do myself.

  3. Agreed. Relentlessly hammering away may be the only answer. Frustrating, laborious and maddening...until the rock cracks.