July 28, 2011

Writing is a Highway

I hate traffic, unless it's blog traffic. Unfortunately, I live near the nation's Capitol. Traffic abounds. Every time I get stuck in it I go tense and joke about losing minutes off my life. Nothing about aggression, congestion, and speed goes with driving vehicles in my book.

Don't worry. This isn't a post ranting about traffic. Instead, while I was stuck in it today, I realized how much like writing it is. Sometimes there's flow and all the structure put into place keeps things moving. Other times no matter how well-prepared a writer is, you just sit. Nothing happens.

Traffic equals chaos to me, and I prefer order (and manners!). Same for my writing. I like the words to follow the plan. I am learning to appreciate some organized chaos. If the words are flowing too fast, I type faster. But if chaos outpaces order for long, I lose focus and productivity.

Patience, perseverance, and problem-solving are required in traffic and writing. Writer's block is my writing traffic. I don't have patience with it. I've learned the best medicine is writing, even if it's a blog post, and reading. The more I persevere, the better it flows. Characters block me out sometimes; they throw me problems I wasn't expecting in my story. Usually the character wins.

Today I was impatient to be home and complete my blog post. Blame D.C.-area traffic for this long analogy. All I could think about was frustration. I felt the same way last night staring at a blank screen. I made time to write, wanted to write, but the writing wasn't working. I was at a standstill.

I sat and waited. Nothing. I realized I couldn't force it, those cars weren't moving. I picked up a book and read. Fifty pages in, an idea sparked. I put the book down, opened the laptop. The words came slowly at first, but the scene started developing. It wasn't the way I wanted to get to my destination, but I did get there.

How do you deal with roadblocks?

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