I’m not a big fan of change. I don’t like to admit my fear of change, but it’s true. I tend to steer away from change or avoid it if I can. Which makes the events of the last few months somewhat amazing.
For the last few months I’ve been in a writing funk. I was writing the kind of stories I normally do, with the kind of characters I normally enjoy, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t care about the stories, or the characters. I know that if I don’t love the story or the characters there is no way that readers will.
I don’t know if you could call this kind of funk a writers’ block or not. I had ideas. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced writers’ block, in the form of having nothing to write or no ideas at all. I always have ideas. But sometimes I just don’t have the focus or interest to write. Or I have trouble connecting to the characters or story, which can make writing difficult and unfulfilling. That was the issue I was having for the last few months.
So I decided to take a little break. To give myself the freedom to not write unless I really wanted to. And for a few weeks I didn’t write anything at all, which was very unsettling for me. Usually I write every day, for at least a few minutes, besides maybe vacations and holidays. So to not write for a few weeks felt like insanity to me. But when your heart isn’t into what you’re writing, what comes out in just crap. And I figured my time would be better spent watching the latest season of Orphan Black, than just spinning my writing wheels.
After a few weeks of not writing, and a whole lot of TV binging, I started to get the little tingle of an idea in the back of my head. It’s not the type of idea I would normally write. The heroine isn’t a character I would normally be interested in spending 30k words with. She’s selfish, out for herself, and not apologetic about it. Sure she has reasons for feeling that way (which I eventually discovered) but I still wasn’t sure it was something I wanted to write, or even was capable of writing.
But this idea tingle wouldn’t leave me alone. It just kept gnawing at me. For a good few days I tried to think through the idea, and how I could change the characters and story to be more in line with what I normally like to write. But after a few days of wrestling with this idea, trying to tame it into something I felt I would like to, or could, handle, I gave up. It just wasn’t going to work. I had two options, to not write the story or to write the story as it was.
Given that I’d been in this writing funk for so long, I decided just to give into it. What did I have to lose? I hadn’t been writing for a few weeks anyway. If I didn’t write this story I wouldn’t be writing at all. If the story ended up going nowhere, it wouldn't put me in any worse of a situation.
So I sat down to write, and figured I would see where the idea took me. After only a few days of writing I started to see glimmers of beauty in this story. Touches on honesty my previous writings didn’t have, and I continued to move forward. Two weeks ago I finished the first draft of this story, the only first draft I’ve finished all year. Not only do I now have a great story completed (though it is going to need quite a bit of revision) but my creative juices are flowing. Already I’m working on another story, and I’m excited to be moving forward on a bunch of different projects.
Though I admittedly don’t usually like change, being open to it has offered me a lot of new possibilities. New stories I might want to write, new characters that I want to spend time with and explore. Sure, I’ll go back to the stories I usually write. I still have a ton of ideas left to bring to life. But it’s fantastic to have all these other opportunities and venues being open to me. Just for being open to change.
Sure this is a small example, but being open really has brought me a lot over the last few months. I encourage all of you reading this blog to take a look at your life, and see what change you can be open to. Even a small change can make a huge difference. I know it’s not easy, and I don’t feel comfortable doing it at all (even after this happy story, I’m still very hesitant), but being open to change can make you open to a lot of great things too. Hopefully I’ll have another great story out soon that I can credit to this new open perspective.
What can being open to change bring to your life?