Keep Buggering On – or, Writer’s Block Sucks

What’s that episode of Doctor Who where Capaldi beats his way out of the icewall surrounding the castle? (It’s a good’un, as well).

Sometimes, writing feels like that – you’re making progress, but it’s really slow and all the remorseless keyboard-beating just hurts your hands.

Walk, cup of tea, keep buggering on, don’t edit as you go, walk, cup of tea…

But you try to go forwards, and slam! Your hands hit the wall, again.

Walk, cup of tea…

We’ve had two articles in the Guardian recently, one from the woman who wrote two novels and quit, and then the response from David Barnett, about how you’ve got to be tough with this stuff, so deal with it. And speaking as someone who did quit and then took it back up again, I feel deeply for both of them.

This week, quitting would be so easy. And keeping going is so hard.

Walk, cup of tea…

But the mark of a writer is not success. Don’t get me wrong – the accolades are great – but they’re not what makes the woman. The writer is one who writes, because they have to. The images, the characters, the imaginary things in your head – they won’t leave you alone. And yes, you need to be tough – and every time you bruise your knuckles on that icewall, it’s another tiny crack.

Walk, cup of tea…

I keep telling myself that the wall will come down. I just hope it doesn’t take me as long as it took the Doctor.

 

 

 

 

The Chapter of Doom

Bang!If you’re a writer, you’ll know the one. It’s the one that refuses to do what it’s told, that gets harder and harder, that you hit your head repeatedly against, wondering what will break first.

It’s the one where you cut and paste and cut and paste and cut and paste and realise that actually, you should dump the whole damn thing and start again – but then your sentences fail you and you stare at the blank screen wondering if what you just binned was so bad after all…

It’s the one that’s like pulling teeth, like pulling the veins out of your arms. You go out for air, you make yourself coffee, you buy Jazzies from the garage and you come back and you start it again…

And again…

Until you want to fucking scream.

Every book’s had a Chapter of Doom. For those who’ve read Ecko Rising, it’s early on – the cyberpunk chapter that’s Ecko’s run on Grey’s base. That one started in a sports centre, moved to a disused theatre, then flirted with the abandoned Underground… the breakthrough came when I was standing outside Titan House one day, looking up at the roofs opposite. Ecko Burning had one too, but that one hit the cutting room floor and was rewritten as part of the edit.

And Ecko ‘Endgame’ has one, of course it does. One I started over the holidays, one that’s been through the edits and the re-edits, the frustrations, the head-bashing, the sugar-rush, the going out for air, and the coming back in with my sleeves rolled up….

…and this evening, I’ve finally – finally! – kicked (headbutted?) its stubborn arse. Yay!

There’s absolutely no message in this post – it’s just a story about a story, about the stuff that happens to us all. And to say, that if you hit your head against it hard enough, and for long enough, it will be the Chapter of Doom that breaks first.

The bruises on your forehead are just a part of what writing is.