During a recent interview I was asked what I do if I get writer's block. At the time I didn't have an answer because it had never happened to me; writing had always come easily, although some days more easily than others. But a few months later–after I put my first young adult novel out in the world–I suddenly found myself either staring at a blank page or feeling like I was squeezing words out drop by drop.
What had changed? I asked myself. It wasn't an issue of process; I'd already written several books before. It wasn't an issue of time; I had the same amount of time as I'd always had. I finally realized that the “block” was all in my head. My mind was literally getting in the way of the creative process.
The truth is it's a scary process putting your work out into the world, particularly a novel like WISH, which is a very personal story. The book received wonderful reviews for the most part but there were a few that were not-so-stellar. After reading a couple of them, my inner critics went wild and the results were crippling: every time I sat down to write, nasty thought bombs were going off in my head:
The bombs just kept coming. No wonder I couldn't get anything done. I couldn't even hear myself think over the noise.
Something had to change.
I gave myself a few days off and did things that make me happy: yoga, dance, walks along the beach, other kinds of creative projects. I talked to other artist friends about how they keep going in the face of criticism. I noticed that every author gets bunk reviews–even those I most admire (award-winning authors!). Lastly, I revisited the reasons why I write in the first place. Although writing is hard work, there's a special kind of magic that happens in the process. It's amazing to experience... and highly addictive. Writing is like painting with words; each story an opportunity to spread more light in the world.
All of these things helped me recalibrate and get the creative flow moving.
It simply isn't possible to satisfy everyone... some will like it, some won't. Who's really qualified to say whether something is good or not? It's all subjective. But digging deep within myself to find the heart of the story, saying it with unwavering honesty, finding pleasure in the act of writing...that's what keeps me coming back.
As long as I keep going, I know I'll get somewhere.
About Grier Cooper
Grier Cooper has performed on three out of seven continents with companies such as San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, totaling more than thirty years of experience as a dancer, teacher and performer.
She blogs about dance in the San Francisco Bay Area and has interviewed and photographed a diverse
collection dancers and performers including Clive Owen, Nicole Kidman, Glen Allen Sims and Jessica Sutta. She is the author of the new ballet-based young adult novel, WISH. Grier can be reached through her website at http://www.griercooper.com
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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