When I’m working on a book, there’s nothing I fear more than staring at my computer screen and not knowing what to write next. I find it paralyzing, nerve-racking, depressing, and downright scary. When I’m writing a book but not actually writing anything, I feel an enormous sense of guilt because I’m not being productive.
At least, that’s how I used to feel.
Recently I’ve realized that just because I’m not actually typing words on the keyboard, it doesn’t mean that I’m not working on my manuscript. In fact, a lot of the work I put into my books happens when I’m not even at my desk. I let the plot unfold in my head, essentially watching it as a movie before committing it to paper. That means that technically I’m working, even if I’m in the shower, or at the gym, or taking a walk. My brain is working on the book, which is what matters.
My personal challenge is to be patient and give my brain the time it needs to figure out how the story is going to unravel, wherever and however that happens. I’ve learned from experience that trying to force the creative process simply doesn’t work. It leads to frustration and a lot of deleting.
The creative process is different for everyone, and if there were a sure-fire remedy for writer’s block, I’d be first in line to buy it. But letting go of what you think it means to be “productive” is a good step in the right direction. Just be prepared to jot down notes when moments of inspiration strike. Not all the ideas that pop up will be golden, but you don’t want to forget the ones that are!
This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2016 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.