Reader’s Block

By K. Trian

This blog post was originally published on writingforums.org, but I thought I’d share it here as well. Team T. K. Trian has been quite busy lately: still revising Solus and some of our hobbies have taken time (horses, Toni’s band), but hopefully we’ll be more productive the closer we get to autumn.

In any case, I thought I’d share this with you, interwebz.

I’m suffering of something I’ve come to call “a reader’s block” (wowsers, how clevah, K!). Anymoo, it’s like a writer’s block in the sense that I have difficulties with starting or getting back to a novel I was reading, even though I’ve enjoyed the story.

So I started to dissect this little brain defect o’ mine.

I realized that there are at least three issues that keep me from fully immersing myself into a story other than the one T.Trian and I are working on (yes, I write with a partner):

1) Plagcident

I’m afraid of finding something familiar in another writer’s novel. A plot twist, a character, something that’s similar to one or few aspects in our WIP. As if me not finding it would make these possible similarities go away! I guess it’s a matter of accidental plagiarism. But why should I even care? Everything’s been done already (“you just have to put your own spin to it, hun”). I think I’m just afraid of that crushing feeling when you realize something you thought brilliant-er than a strobo-chandelier has already been done and “recycling” it would just make you look dumber than Paris Hilton in a power suit.

2) Anal-lyzing

I seem to be going through a phase during which I’m over-analyzing everything, including this. I’ve become very anal about grammar, writing techniques, pacing, etc. so when I’m reading a novel, I catch myself (nit)picking the prose instead of enjoying the story. It’s pretty tiresome, and I guess, knowing how tiresome it is, I’ve avoided picking up novels. Especially in English.

3) Color Me Choosy

It’s been very difficult to find novels that I actually enjoy. I don’t often follow through with the recommendations from others, to be honest, unless they are really good salesmen. I use Amazon to browse reviews, but it’s fairly time-consuming because you can’t trust everything that’s said there, thanks to the relative prevalence of sockpuppets, plus some people bash books for no other reason but personal grudge or perpetual hemorrhoids. So I find myself returning to the novels I’ve read a gazillion times (and that are also safe accidental plagiarism -wise).
***

Curiously enough, I have no problem beta-reading. It’s fun. Maybe it’s more appealing because I feel like I contribute to something even though many stories I beta-read tend to have more hiccoughs than a published novel — which is understandable (our WIP doesn’t have just hiccoughs, it has effing TB).

Still, it feels like not reading as much as I used to deprives me of so many things. Partly it feels like being the only absolutist at a kegger, partly like I was that asshole player who shows up to the band practice but never practices on her own at home.

Should I worry? Should I just wait for this to pass? (it’s a phase, right, RIGHT?) Maybe I should just force myself to read more. Promise myself I have to read something new (and preferably in English) at least a little bit every evening before going to sleep, and that it has to be a novel, not a comic or a children’s book or a fitness magazine.

Yeah, maybe I’ll do that.

Truth be told, I hope I’m the only one with this reader’s block ‘cause it SUCKS, but on the other hand it would be nice to learn I’m not the only loser on the block and how others have dealt with it.

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A Writer in Anguish

By K. TrianpenEverything you put on paper turns to crap.
You fail to convey what you meant to convey.
You can’t plot to save your life.
Your characters feel unrealistic and clumsy.

Sound familiar? If not, consider yourself lucky! I knew this day couldn’t be avoided, that I would find myself in front of the computer and end up deleting everything I write. It’s not like anything actually triggered this feeling, I just felt it looming somewhere behind me, like it’s been there for several weeks now. It’s not a writer’s block, or maybe it is, it’s not like I’ve run out of ideas, but the ideas get garbled on their way to the paper. They look wrong. Like seeing a painting in your head, but when you try to transfer it on canvas, you realize you can’t paint. You can’t even mix the colors, and the brush you picked is of the wrong size and shape.

It’s actually quite scary. What should I do with this block? What’s the proverbial crate of dynamite I can use to blow it to smithereens? Should I get drunk? Let the stories sit a while (but I don’t wanna!), wait for it to pass? Throw up all the ideas and see if I could arrange them into a bearable form later?

But it feels like back when I tore a ligament in my foot and couldn’t run for weeks. That’s when staying in place is out of the question, but at the same time, if I try to run, it seems to only make things worse and I get more and more frustrated.

The annoying thing is that, I, myself, am the block. It’s my own standards I fail to meet, yet at times I wonder if those standards are as realistic as me trying to force myself to sprint 100m in 10 seconds. But something keeps me from lowering them; it feels like settling with the realistic 14 seconds means I’ve given up.

Anyone else been in this situation before? How did you get rid of the block?