The fantasy writer Terry Pratchett has been quoted as saying, “There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.” I understand this (beyond the unfair slam to California) because writer’s block is a great excuse for someone who wants to write but doesn’t want to write THAT much.I don’t know if my problem is writer’s block, but I recently gave up on a novel. Not permanently, but I set it aside for now in favor of another story which also needs working on. I’ve never done that before. I usually find that when I hit a snag in a story, I just think about it until I get over the hump and then it’s smooth sailing. Also, I hate, hate, hate to give up on a project. However, I’ve been thinking of how to end the story for about two years now, without any suitable solution. For those of you who read my optimistic post at the beginning of November, that’s the one I’m talking about. I made a lot of progress and got a lot of good ideas, but I still can’t finish it. I just went and read a bunch of quotes about writer’s block by famous authors and all of them said basically the same thing: suck it up and get writing, and I totally agree. But…
But here’s my question: when is it time to put something aside and when is it time to keep hammering your head against the craggy face of the story, hoping for a breakthrough? I’m not whining or complaining or even trying to justify myself, I’m genuinely wondering. I feel like a failure for giving up (even temporarily) but now that I’m working on the other novel, I’m much more excited about writing it. I look forward to going back at it.
I’m sure any professional writer would read this and scoff; I probably would too in their place. I have the freedom as an amateur writer of not being under contract and under a deadline. But also, being an amateur writer, I feel I have the freedom at the moment to pick and choose which projects to do, even if I am aspiring to be professional eventually.
What do you think? Please be as brutally honest as you’d like. Do you think it is acceptable for a serious writer to put aside a piece because of not being able to make progress with it, or should you always power through any difficulties? What are your experiences in this area?