Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Writer's block? - Rarely. Editor's block? - Frequently.

So writer's block is pretty much like erectile dysfunction - there's a lot of remedies out there, from the snake oils to positive mental attitude.

For me, this is a good news / bad news thing. The good news is, I very rarely (long may that last) suffer from writer's block. The bad news: the thing I do find myself suffering from, which could probably be described as editor's block, has no listed remedies.

Symptoms of editor's block (correctus petrificus) include: staring blankly at a draft; spending inordinate amounts of time on social media; writing copious amounts of another first draft(s); baking; doing housework.

It's not pretty. Especially those last two. Partly because editor's block side-effects include the attention span of a fruit fly on crack (I mentioned social media already, yes?).

Solutions range from the 'nuke the ground and salt the earth' options right through to sitting down and trying to adult my way through it (see my post on 'Scene it here?'), and vary in successfulness depending, really, on which way the wind is blowing.

Topical application of ginger beer also helps.

Option 1: Nuke'em!

At this point, I take a fresh document, run it side by side with the draft that I can't edit any more, and start re-typing the draft into a fresh manuscript. This is a drastic and very long-winded approach, and not one I use often. Downsides: you're re-writing an entire manuscript. Not for the faint of heart or those on a hard deadline. Upside: occasionally my fingers have wandered off in fruitful new directions using this approach and spawned entire new (and much better) storylines.

Option 2: Call the external contractor!

Persuade, bribe, or threaten someone else into reading it. Upside: A fresh set of eyes (a) means you aren't looking at it for a week or so, and (b) a fresh set of eyes will see things you've missed - no matter how good an author / editor you are. Even if your reader isn't an editor, they'll ask questions that require fresh pieces added / deleted / clarified, which may shift your block. Downside: you need a willing victim.

Option 3: Put your big-editor pants on!

Take a scene. Edit the hell out of it. Reward yourself with ginger beer. Repeat. Downside: requires dedication and ginger beer. Upside: the edit gets done and you get ginger beer.

Option 4: Sod this!

Go and write something else for a while. Upside: you get some writing done. Downside: your edit is still waiting for you.

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