Writer’s block sucks. It really, really, really sucks.
It sucks because it’s difficult to connect with fleshed-out characters and rich plots. It sucks because of trite advice people freely offer like golden miracle pills that don’t even have the benefit of the placebo effect.
I found the advice similar to the recommendations people give to those who suffer from depression or anxiety, like take a walk, ask for help, and meditate. I’m talking about the medical conditions, not how people often use those words to mean they’re having a bad day.
Perhaps writer’s block is one way depression or anxiety manifests itself in writers.
And don’t even get me started on people who say writer’s block isn’t real.
My block started when my mother got sick. At the same time, my daughter was struggling at school because of bullying. In my own job, I was burned out beyond anything I’ve experienced before. There were a lot of months before resolution, which means a lot of months without writing.
Writing is my pressure release, so when that disappeared, I found it very difficult to maintain peace.
I tried the usual fixes for overcoming a block like getting up early to write before my brain was fully awake. I wrote and refused to edit, even minor spelling errors. I used Write or Die, which times you and offers rewards and punishments based on your word output.
Like I need added pressure to write‽
I created intricate plans of stories, posted story ideas all over my office, talked to friends about my story ideas, and thought about characters on hikes. I even bought a laptop so I could write at coffeehouses and in parks. I tried mind mapping, free writing, and I even typed nonsense into my keyboard in the hopes that my brain would want to engage in this activity again. Instead, I ended up with paragraphs of this: fjkdla;ueri opwq gnbkd;md fkl;a sutieopa.
What helped me was not allowing myself to write at all.
Instead I crafted. I decided to homeschool my daughter and redecorated my writing space. I planted a garden. I also took a leave of absence from my job, but I did that for my sanity, not to help me write.
There was one more thing. I went back to old stories I’d written and started to rework them. Editing was somehow easy, and I felt like I was doing something. I’ve always enjoyed editing, so I decided to play with old stories until my brain decided it was time to get back to writing.
Years ago I wrote for a very specific audience. I was and still am a lover of fan fiction, though now my obsession is hockey!fic. I know what to expect, so I don’t have to spend time falling in love before getting to the heart of the story.
From the first story I wrote, I felt like I had to compress my characters into specific molds to satisfy readers even if what was in my head was much richer. It’s no surprise to me that I was constantly adding characters of my own to my fan fiction. I also connected with secondary characters, less fleshed-out characters. Nearly every story I wrote was labeled either alternate universe, out of character, or all human. And I went with M/M from the start though the original was M/F. I’ve always had a hell of a time conforming.
When I started editing these old stories, I felt free to able to expanded and transform those characters into the people they always were inside my head. More importantly, I was able to work past most of my writer’s block.
And this is where The Measure of a Man comes into the world.
William Harris is a reserved man content living with secrets. He’s kept his sexuality private since he came out as a teen and sees no reason for coworkers to be privy to personal information, especially when there’s no one to go home to.
Nate Kelly comes into William’s life at a work function dressed as a beautiful geisha named Momo. From their first date, Nate turns William’s well-controlled world upside down. William tries to keep Nate at arm’s length, but there’s something that keeps drawing him back to the light-hearted man. William must decide if his under-the-radar life can contain someone as immeasurable as Nate, even if that means risking his long-held secrets.