Writerly Stuff: It’s not Writer’s Block, it’s Writer’s Drag

Writer’s block, if you believe the PR, is when you don’t know what to write or what to write next.  It is a dearth of ideas, a lull in creativity.  Writer’s drag is nothing like that.

The drag is when you have plenty of ideas, you know what you want to do next in the story, you have a good story idea to explore, but for some reason you just can’t get yourself to sit down and write it.  You wander from reading to some movie to a bath and a nap.  You hit the garden or tackle that long overdue project around the house, or maybe even do something for work.  Anything, rather than write, and the time fritters away.

I suffer from writer’s drag from time to time and as far as I know there is no cure.  It used to really bother me, to think that I had good, maybe great material to work on, but I just could not bring myself to do it.  Then I figured something out.

I can only speak for myself, but I have found that for me, writing is like a workout. A novel is like running a marathon, and it is only natural that there be down time after. Generally, writing seems to work for me like a sound wave, if you can picture that, with peaks (of productivity) and valleys (times of recovery).

Sometimes just sitting down and starting to write is all it takes to break through. Sometimes a good read or a good story on film can get the juices flowing. But most often I just need to rest it for a while, to reset my heart and reboot my creative mind..

During those valley times, I have learned to continue to work in two ways, however, so the frustration level does not get too bad.

1. I blog as a discipline so I am never completely unproductive. I come from a family of journalists and am well aware how annoying but useful deadlines can be. I also preach on occasion and it is helpful to have something to say on Sunday morning.

2. I work on the business of writing. I research agents, markets, networking, promotional and marketing ideas, and do just plain research for story ideas that I am stopped in the middle of or plan to get to, “soon.” Often, the research can get me going again, too.

So, have you ever suffered from writer’s drag?  Don’t fight it.  Give yourself the chance to catch your breath, and please don’t beat yourself up over it.  You are not alone.  As you work through your valley, I will be interested to know how it works out and if you find some good ideas of how to deal with it as you move out of the valley and toward that next peak.

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