I am not a mountain climber. I have a terrible fear of heights.
I am also not a fan of mountain climbers (not the people who scale rocks, the exercise you do when you think you want to get into shape, but really just want to make yourself nauseous and tired). They are, definitively, the worst.
Needless to say, mountains and I don’t get along.
“That’s totally interesting, Erica,” you may say (with an eye roll you don’t bother to hide). “But what does that have to do with writing?”
For me, it means juggling multiple projects that are completely different. Which can be equally freeing and frustrating.
You know when you’ve been thinking about a project for a while, running plot scenario after plot scenario through your mind, struggling to figure out what’s next? When you’ve been thinking about your characters for so long, you find yourself talking to them in the shower? When your eyeballs dry up because you’ve been staring at a blank page for too long?
You know, that? That’s when you start to consider a lifestyle change.
Well, I suggest a genre change.
There’s a point in my MS (let’s face it, there are many points) when I run into a wall and just keep running into it head first, trying to figure out what to do. It’s frustrating. It’s draining. And getting more and more worked up about it doesn’t help.
So I do something else.
Something completely different.
For example, if I hit a wall with my gritty YA, I switch gears and work on anything but a gritty YA. I work on a fantasy, or a comedy, or something historical. I work on an MG or a short story or a bunch of nano fiction. I make a 180, writing wise, and it’s like hitting a reset button.
Changing projects gives me a second wind, and switching perspectives ultimately helps solve my writing wall problems.
Here’s the thing about problems: they burrow under your skin and refuse to leave. So yes, changing gears can help solve my writing problems…eventually. But until then, they can fester.
Hitting the writing wall is frustrating. And frustration is hard to shake. Let’s call it as it is: switching projects is a distraction. I am willfully ignoring the problem in front of me by changing direction and working until I hit a new wall. It’s like stumbling blindly through a maze of writing.
The problems still remains, and will remain until I face them. Jumping projects is me running away—not forever (hopefully), but long enough to breathe and become rational again. It’s a strategic retreat, in order to resupply and reassemble the troops.
It’s writing warfare.
Jumping around, logically, leads to extreme emotions. Surgeon general’s warning: may cause giddiness, delirium, rage, sleeplessness, and caffeine addiction.
And fear. But that’s symptomatic of most writing.