There was a very interesting discussion a while back about a client of mine who experienced writer’s block, and I was fascinated by the varied comments, suggestions, and feelings about writer’s block. Some of you felt there is no such thing, while others had a variety of suggestions on how to move beyond it. But what do you do if what you’re experiencing goes well beyond writer’s block?
I received a recent comment/question from a blog reader and have experienced this with a client. What do you do when the fun has left the writing? When you’ve become so paralyzed by the rejections and critiques that you don’t even know how to begin? You’ve gotten so caught up in what you’ve done wrong or what you should be doing that you’ve lost the ability to even find a story?
I guess I wouldn’t call this writer’s block. I would call it mid-writer’s crisis. It’s that point when you’re taking a look at your life, both personally and professionally, and you begin to wonder how you got here, why you’re doing this, and what’s the point. It’s when you suddenly realize that this craft you once loved is no longer fun. And it’s the most tragic thing for me to hear about. Yes, rejection is part of this business. Whether you’re published or not you’re going to hear it—from editors, agents, reviewers, and even readers who “don’t read that type of book,” but when it paralyzes a writer something is wrong.
I’m not a therapist (although there are days that I play one), so I can’t go into a long list of suggestions on how to get beyond your mid-writer’s crisis or even the psychological reasons for it. What I can tell you all is not to lose sight of why you got into this crazy business in the first place. It’s for no other reason than that you love to write. Just as I got into this business because I love books, I love authors, and I really love to negotiate. If we start to focus solely on something else—getting published, selling a New York Times bestseller, or making only the big deals—we lose sight of what we love. So, while it’s important to have goals, I think it’s even more important to keep the passion alive. Know and understand the market, learn from your rejections and from the comments in your critique groups, but don’t let them overpower you. You’ve been noticed for your voice and the stories you create and it’s important to hold on to that with everything you have.