A confession. I find myself stuck in that sterile non-writing wasteland. And not just because a man just so happens to be clinging to internal scaffolding feet away from me fixing one of our roof-lights. Obviously it's not easy to work for the crashing and banging of staple guns, not to mention the fact he wants to joke and chat with me. (And in case you're wondering why I don't just work in another room, remember I live in a converted chapel and it's mostly open plan.)
I've been here before, alas, as you know if you follow this blog. I have been doing a lot of thinking as to exactly why I am once again struggling to write anything half decent these days. I'm not saying I don't, from time to time, come up with something I'm reasonably pleased with but it seems so much like hard work to put one word in front of another. Yet the crazy thing is, there's nothing else I'd rather do. I don't want to give it up or learn a totally new skill either. I want to write. I hate that loathsome phrase, 'Writers' Block' and know how many busy and successful writers see it as a fancy name for lack of ability or laziness uttered by someone who won't stop whining instead of Getting-On-With-It.
To be honest, I used to think that way. I never had any trouble writing short stories that I was proud of and that even got published and won prizes from time to time. I've even written novels (one published). I could happily bash out a first draft and then enjoy shaping and polishing it. Rejection never upset me unduly because I do understand why most work is rejected. After all, it's all part of the writer's life. Only I don't know how to do it any longer. It's all dead-ends and wrong turnings. And rejection, once par for the course, now only serves to tell me I can no longer do it. I've even entered about half a dozen competitions so far this year to give me a focus and a deadline and have got absolutely nowhere. I've joined courses that should inspire me but only confirm that I can't do it any more. In other words I have lost my way.
I'm in a muddle. I have no idea any longer what I want to write and where I want it to go. Do I concentrate on literary fiction or aim for the more commercial? Do I write long, short or very short? Should I start novel three that is forming in my mind? But then again what is the point of slogging through another full-length manuscript when my writing is not floating anyone's boat at the moment? Surely these are the thoughts of a novice writer and not one who's been at it for night on 25 years? With me, it all boils down to is shrinking confidence. And the longer it goes on the harder it gets to regain it.
I have tried to avoid sinking into despondency over it. I've tried all sorts of ways such as walking away from my desk for days at a time and not even thinking about writing anything at all. I've gone for long walks and all those other things that seem to work for other writers. None of it has worked.
Please excuse the whinge but sometimes I refuse to play the game and present a happy face. Surely I can't be the only writer who feels like this from time to time? The world of social networking creates a false sense of achievement, optimism and opportunities that is hard to cope with at times. Of course, no-one loves a party-pooper, least of all me, but sometimes I can't play the game any more.
Any tips that actually work?