Hazel McHaffie

Not wavering but drowning

Some of the visitors to my blog have asked me to talk about what I do when I get writers’ block. Good question.

Now, up till this point I thought I didn’t have a superstitious bone in my body … hmmm. I find I’m having to inhale deeply … touch things … mutter mantras … and generally take arcane steps to overcome a powerful sense of reluctance, before writing my answer this week. Why? Because to date … pause for more ritual … I haven’t experienced this well-known phenomenon. Oh dear, have I now well and truly jinxed future creative flow? Would those well-meaning souls who asked for this tip kindly send positive vibes my way and execute your own form of hex-repellent.

My problem is not a block but rather the reverse. The world of medical ethics is so full of rich material just waiting to be captured in novels that once I get going my difficulty is knowing when to stop. I’m positively inundated with ideas and characters and plots that suggest themselves to me regardless of the hour, the mood or the setting. Indeed, I’m in imminent danger of being completely submerged by them.

But before my questioners grind their teeth to the gums in frustration, let me tell you about two little practices I adopt on a fairly regular basis which I find help to prevent me getting stuck in the actual process of writing.

At the end of each writing day, before I go to bed I re-read what I’ve written. Invariably my subconscious works on it while I sleep and fresh ideas are waiting for me next morning … or in the middle of the night more often! Sometimes that necessitates nocturnal perambulations to the computer and furious typing through the wee small hours; at other times a couple of hours of jotting pen on paper in the semi-darkness of the bedroom suffice, capturing the essence of the idea enough to be effective prompts next day.

And my second pre-emptive action? I try to leave the story at a point where I know what comes next so that as soon as I sit down in front of the computer next time I’m instantly into the flow.

So the short bulletin on the McHaffie state of writing health is: I’m not wavering but drowning.

Up till today at least!

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