Finding my way out of writer’s block.

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The past year and a bit has been a hard slog. I was diagnosed with diabetes and there have been life-changing health issues impacting me and those I love who are closest to me. And there has been transition from my old day job to a new day job. There has simply been a lot of stuff happening in my life and for the past sixteen months or so, I have felt the weight of it all. I’ve been, at times, somewhat automaton-like; going through the motions of day-to-day life without finding the joy in anything,

I’m serious. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a motivated individual.  I take great pleasure in helping motivate others like those good people who are members of Saskatoon Writer’s Meetup.  I’ve acted as a mentor to other writers. I’ve been cheering people on as they complete their projects and try to seek representation or a book deal.

But for the last year, it just hasn’t been there. My writing as suffered because I have neglected it. I simply didn’t have the juice or creative energy or whatever magic elixir kept me at it through eight published works.

My literary agent Lane Heymont has been great. He’s done a fantastic job for me and has been a huge support through whatever the hell this was. Thanks, man. You are the best. 🙂

I used to think that if one can create a light at the end of the tunnel for oneself, then you could overcome anything. What I’ve learned is that only works when life isn’t dumping new and painful ways of creating stress. There have been many days over the past year when I’ve wondered what I’ve done? Did I cause this? (Probably with the diabetes as I like pizza and beer too much.) I’ve also wondered if the crap that was bearing down on me was spilling over into other people’s lives.

I’ve had what I call a “stress ball” in the pit of my stomach now for many long months. It’s always there, patiently waiting for the next ordeal. And I’ve had panic attacks. Crippling, crawl under the sheets and want to hide out from the universe kind of panic attacks.  I can’t think of any worse feeling than to be in the throes of one. I’ve seen a counselor, I’m going back. There is much to do. I need to figure out how to manage them because I am literally a shaking, incapacitated gelatinous mass of nerves when the panic attacks come.

This month has been particularly difficult. Both my wife and I are praying that July is going to be better than June. I am so thankful for my wife’s support. She is my anchor. She helps me see things clearer. She is the source of strength that I lack and I love her very much.

All of this has come at a cost in my relationships, my health, my happiness and my ability to make others happy. It has also created the perfect storm of writer’s block and I will confess that I have contemplated walking away from writing entirely.

It’s important to understand, as well, that my writing is a way for me to manage how I feel about myself. It has helped me deal with post traumatic stress disorder because I was in a very bad way about fifteen years ago and my life collapsed entirely. I don’t want to go back there. I can’t. I barely survived it.

Writing helped me through it all. It was a barometer for my mental health. If I wasn’t writing, something wasn’t good inside my head. When I was writing, I felt I could do anything.

I have been blessed over the past ten years as an author. I’ve had a book deal or two. I went to London with my wife … twice. I’ve met fans of my books and I’ve formed friendships with people outside of Canada.

But the last sixteen months have been hell. I’m fighting through it. I’m doing the best I can and I am writing again. Not a lot, not anywhere near my previous output. Right now I am doing about 1000 words a day. I am interested in the projects I am working on. I feel invested in the plot and the characters again.

My agent has managed to get some major interest in one of my projects. We both have our fingers crossed on that one.

I am hoping, still, to get THE GIRL ON VICTORIA ROAD out to readers this summer. End-September at the latest. Thank you to everyone who has fallen for Tim Reaper and who have emailed me to say they loved the book and can’t wait for the next one.

In the meantime, I think I am coming out of writer’s block. Those health issues are still there, but I can’t be held hostage to fear of what may come because in my nearly 50 years on the planet, I’ve learned that personal shit storms seem to be cyclic. I am hoping this one is near its end.

Bear with me folks. I’m still here fighting the good fight and trying to write the good write.  Nobody said life would be easy the older you get. I’m not sure why I thought that it would be.

I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last year. Chief among the things I’ve learned is that I have to manage my stress better. I can’t let fear of the unknown consume me. I need to be better so I can take care of those closest to me.

Peace. I’m still here. I’m writing again.

Things have to get better.

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I Have Writer’s Block. 2016 Has Been A Hard Year.

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hat

(Multi-published author with writer’s block buying epic hat at Universal Studios Florida)

I thrive on writing. Or at least I used to, and then 2016 marched on in and kicked me in the nads. It’s been kicking me in the nads all year long and I’m very nearly at a point where I’m ready to throw up my arms and say, to hell with it.

Yes, I know that most of us experience writer’s block from time to time in our lives. This is the first time for me and it’s so utterly soul destroying to want to write something but you find there is nothing in the creativity cookie jar. Not even a few crumbs from which I might get at least a first chapter to kick around and see if it’s got enough to make me want to write a second chapter.

I tried to force myself out of my writer’s block by participating in the 3 Day Novel Contest. I’ve always written better when there was a deadline. The need to get it done on time always stimulated my creative energy, but not this year. I’m doing NaNoWriMo to try and finish what I started in the 3 Day Novel Contest again, believing that a deadline might work. Nothing. Nada. I’ve pumped off a few thousand words here and there but I have no idea where the story is going even though the premise is stone cold brilliant. Christ, I should be jumping for joy at the character I have created and the challenge he faces but it’s just not working.

I feel bad for my literary agent. I’ve promised to send something new twice this year and I haven’t been able to deliver.

2016 started out terribly for me. I injured my back at the end of December 2015 – I have a pair of herniated discs from my years as a soldier. I’ve been living with chronic back pain for two decades and still managed to write. But I screwed it up badly and the pain was so intense that I had to be medicated with a drug called Lyrica, which, I think, screwed me up even more. I could barely even walk most days. My back responded to physiotherapy but it took nearly four months to recover and by then I was already fairly unmotivated.  (I have since re-injured my back and there are shooting pains up the center of my spine right now as I write this. Not as bad as it could be but bad enough to distract from the task at hand.)

I left a job I liked after nearly a decade. I found a new job I like far better with far more perks and for a lot more money. That should be offsetting how crappy things have been and I am grateful for the job, but I’m still having trouble writing consistently.

Later in the year I learned that I am diabetic. So hello, complete lifestyle change. My wife has been an incredible support throughout all of this. She’s even changed her diet alongside me to make it easier for me. I’d be lost without her.

I should be really happy, you know? My book THE NORTH was republished by Severed Press and became one of their bestsellers. I self-published IMMORTAL REMAINS and it is selling like crazy! I’m getting emails from fans wanting to know when they can read the next Tim Reaper book. I’m actually making freaking money off that book. Like, every month there is money in my bank account! Who knew?

The motivation should be there and it isn’t. Health issues have been a black shadow hanging over my household all year.  I want to write. I try to write. I fail to write anything that I want to continue writing. I want to be a cheerleader for the folks in my writer’s group and I am having a hell of a time trying to do that because I can’t even help myself.

And I am losing my mind about this because I am a fairly prolific writer. I generally write about two books a year. I’ve been published each year since 2010. I want to be published again in 2017, but right now I’ve got nothing and I’m starting to wonder if I’m going to ever complete another project. (Because one must first have a project they like enough to continue writing and right now everything sucks on an intergalactic scale.)

That’s bleak. I need to get through this.

I want to get that second Tim Reaper book out next summer because the first one is doing so well. I want to get something really great off to my literary agent and I’ve got a couple of projects with potential but the inspiration just isn’t there.

I’m not depressed. I feel good about my life and where I am as I approach fifty years of age. I just can’t seem to break out of this writer’s block and it’s driving me insane.

Rant over. Thanks for reading.

Maybe I need to just let the year slip by and try again on January 1, 2017.

 

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