I finally, after weeks and weeks of barely writing, finished the book I was telling you about last month. Finally! <3 It’s currently being edited; I hope to have it up for sale in a week or so.
Instead, this month, I’ll write about writer’s block, which is sort of what I had. I wondered if Jane Austen had even suffered from an inability to write, so I did a Google search and sure enough, she did!
Back in 1801, when Jane was twenty-six, her father moved her, her older sister, Cassandra, and her mother to Bath. He had retired and it’s speculated he hoped Jane and Cassandra would find husbands in the seaside town. Jane apparently hated Bath. (Remind you of anyone in one of her novels? *coughAnneElliotinPersuasioncough*) That move did a great deal toward stopping her writing.
I can tell you that even when you are happy to be doing so, moving house is more than capable of causing creativity to cease for a time. It happened to me, five years ago.
Not only did Jane and her family move to Bath, they had to move within the town to cheaper accommodations now and then. I’m not sure how many times they moved, but it was at least twice. She may have only just got her feet under her when she had to go through the entire process again, still in a town she disliked very much.
I’m certain Jane was very aware of her family’s lack of funds, which was the reason for moving to cheaper places. If things were then as they are now, some of those more inexpensive accommodations might have been in sketchier neighborhoods, which can also be anxiety-producing. First-hand experience tells me that worry stops creativity.
In addition to moving house, there was the social whirl of the town … balls in the Assembly Room, social calls, nights at the theater, dinners, and visits to the modiste. It was probably very hard for Jane to find time to get quiet and write. I can tell you from my own experience, when I have things to do outside of my home, it pulls my attention away from my project. Now, I’m highly adaptable and that’s a large part of the reason for that, but I can’t imagine the amount of time all that social stuff took in the 1800’s even if a body could focus amongst a lot of distractions. I’ve heard of people who can do it, but I have never experienced it myself.
Jane and her family lived in Bath for five years. Her father died when they lived there … and of course, grief is definitely something that will prevent a writer from getting words on a page. From what I gather, that half a decade was the worst of Jane’s life. I feel for her. She was able to use her experiences during that time in her books, of course, once she was able to write again.
Thankfully, my writer’s block didn’t last five years. In the end, the reason for my resistance to this most recent story was that I was trying to make it longer than it needed to be. I had a list of plot points I wanted in the story and was trying to fit them all in, when the story neither needed nor wanted them all. Once I decided to forget about the rest of the stuff, I was able to pound out the end of the story in just a couple hours. I’m very happy with how it came out, and I have learned a valuable lesson: don’t cling to the “outline” so tightly that you can’t write.
Have you ever been stuck in a project? How did you get unstuck?