Monday, May 9, 2016

The Cure for Writer’s Block: A Deadline

For me, writer’s block does not come when I have a contract for a book-and a deadline that goes with it.  No, then I can focus on the work at hand.  As the deadline creeps closer and closer, the hours I pour into my manuscript are longer and longer.   When a team of people at my publisher is waiting on my manuscript, there is no time for writer’s block. 

It is between contracts, when I’m trying to figure out what project I want to tackle next, that is the closest thing to writer’s block for me.  That is when I clean out closets, drawers, and go to the mall where I wander around.  It is then I wonder what to do next in sort of a writer’s block. 

When I was first starting out, I wondered how authors could possibly come up with ideas.  Now I understand that ideas are everywhere and all around me.  The challenge is figuring out which idea is the right idea to become my next book.  Is the idea marketable?  Has the topic been written about thousands of times?  Are there any books on the topic?  If not, why not?  And is this a subject I can think about every day for the next several years?  Can I invest my mind and heart to the topic?  Is this topic worth my devotion? 

Let me give you an example.  A few months ago I was asked if I would be interested in writing about the Salem witch trials.  I said yes, I’d look into it.  (No contract, just discussing possibilities.)  But after I did a lot research, I found the topic so dark and disturbing that I knew this was not a topic for me.  I could not write a book on this topic no matter what.  I could not live with this topic for years. 

Yet around the same time, I decided to write about George Washington’s slaves.   The subject of slavery is also a disturbing topic, but the idea of this book is exciting.  It is a topic that is marketable, has never been done, and I am willing to invest my mind and heart to this topic because it is worth my devotion for years to come.   This is a book that I’m meant to write, and I am enjoying the research.   In other words, this book is worth my time.  

So while I’m working on BURIED LIVES: GEORGE WASHINGTON’S SLAVES OF MOUNT VERNON I do not time for writer’s block.  

But once this manuscript is done, watch out messy closet.  

Me signing the contract for BURIED LIVES.   Happy day!

Carla Killough McClafferty

1 comment:

Carmela Martino said...

>>Now I understand that ideas are everywhere and all around me. The challenge is figuring out which idea is the right idea to become my next book.<<
So true, Carla. Glad to know you're enjoying researching your current project!