Every so often I get overwhelmed by the prospect of writing a book.
I’m at one of those stages right now. I have about twenty half-baked ideas for stories jostling around in my head and I can’t pick one.
Which one has legs? Which one is worth several months of research and deep thought, followed by months of late nights and wrestling with plot holes and cursing and elation and guilt and joy?
I don’t know.
I wouldn’t call this writer’s block. I’d call it writer’s custard. It’s feels gooey and opaque. Very disorienting.
I started to feel a bit stink about it. I felt I should be working on the next book by now. I frequent some writers’ Facebook groups and the people are lovely and supportive, but they’re also saying things like ‘my goal for 2018 is to publish six books’ and ‘my goal is write a blog post every day’.
Now, I know it’s dumb to compare yourself to other writers. I know that. But it’s so easy to fall into the trap, isn’t it? To think, ‘Six books!? I’d be glad to write one! OMG I’d better get going!’ and that subtle, insidious pressure begins to grow, and you start to get tension headaches because you’re not writing, and of course the harder you try to force an idea, the less the ideas come.
So, I decided the best thing was to make tiny carnival masks for make-believe creatures.
Publishers don’t want masks that are approximately 4cm across. No, they don’t. There’s no market for them. But that’s the point. I wanted to do something playful and pointless. Something that would let me enjoy a silly act of creation with no expectations attached. Because I hope that by letting myself play, I will let my mind run free. I can start thinking ‘what if?’. I can stop stressing and have fun – and then, soon, I hope, the next writing project will become obvious.
How do you decide what your next writing project should be? Do you crochet daleks or whittle squids? Or maybe you have a completely different approach to the decision-making process? Please let me know in the comments below – I’d like to try your tactics!