Feb 16, 2010

Writing Blocks by Gillian Polack

Writing is never one size fits all. Writing blocks are only one size fits all when you least want them to be.

It’s taken me a long time to learn what causes my writing blocks. I have had a vast flow of meaningful words this last fortnight, after not writing for months. This was because I’m writing something with a fiendishly complex plot and my mind had to sort it out enough to be able to get a handle on it.

Last time I had such a major block, it was because I had lost the voice of the main character. If I had written without that voice clearly in my mind, I would have written something much less good.

For the first, I kept dreaming up plots and solutions and conflict and curious situations until I was at a stage where I could draft the dreams that worked (as opposed to the many dead ends I played with) into a detailed outline. That’s what I’m doing now. Writing notes and writing up notes. The outline is so detailed that I will be a third of the way into the book before it’s finished. This is as it should be for this particular novel.

For the other, it was terribly important to find that lost voice and I did. At least, I hope I did. I took my time and didn’t push and the book is with my publisher for editing. I guess I’ll find out if I really did find a voice when I get those editorial comments back.

Voice was so important to that novel that I would have waited years if necessary. I didn’t just wait, though. I read and reread what I had written. I thought of the world I had constructed and the particular dreams and themes I had brought into play. All the time I wasn’t writing, my mind was processing stuff at a deep level.

These days I let my mind do the deep thinking while I do something fun that helps. Right now the ‘something fun’ is Battlestar Galactica. It deals with some of the plotting issues I need to understand and it gives me time out and it’s brilliant to boot. What more could I ask?

Maybe I could ask for a solution to the less dramatic everyday writing blocks? I have those solutions and I promise, I will write a post on them. Just watch this space.

I am Gillian Polack. I answer mainly to Gillian, but also to Dr Polack, Ms Polack, Miss Polack and "Hey, you". I sometimes answer to "Gillian Pollack" because people simply can't seem to get my name right. 'Polack' is not an insult in Australia and it is most definitely the correct spelling of my surname. I live in the centre of the known universe (Canberra, ACT, Australia).

I write, I think, I serve on committees, I teach. I am passionate about people, about books, about history.

I talk a lot. I dream a lot. The Middle Ages sneaks into my dreaming, and so does speculative fiction. Cooking sneaks onto my waistline.

I am not terribly fond of writing webpages about myself (I really prefer inventing stuff fictional - truth is such a shaky proposition sometimes), so I really want to say upfront that Tamara Mazzei is responsible for this being here and me having written it. She also tweaked it for me when it looked like a dog's breakfast.

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