What do you do when you're running up against a deadline and you can't get into the right headspace for writing?
I've had a brilliant start to the year. As I discussed last time out, numbers are up across the board. When I logged in to write this post just now, I discovered that this is the first month I've ever had on this blog where I've had over 10,000 pageviews.
But this month, I've barely written anything. In fact, by the standards of previous years, I've barely written anything in the whole time that things started looking up. It's not quite writer's block; I can write sometimes, but I'm a lot more prone to getting blocked on a scene for a while. Doors (my writing nemesis) are stickier than ever. I've spent far too many hours this week staring at the full stop at the end of the most recent paragraph of The Second Realm (whichever paragraph that happened to be at the time), with my brain feeling Tipp-Exed out between my ears.
There are several factors at play. My imagination just hasn't been as active since getting seriously stuck into the writing of my PhD thesis a couple of years ago. I've thought or dreamt up far fewer new ideas - only two that I thought were any cop in the last twelve months. I'm sure this is just a matter of finding time to properly unwind, but I don't think such time will be available in time (if that makes any sense ;D).
There's also the length of time I've been at work on The Second Realm. This month's episode was the twenty-fifth, spread across twenty-eight months, and through that time, work on it has been fairly constant. I've taken breaks, for NaNoWriMo 2011 and 2013 (in 2012, I wrote Second Realm episodes for NaNo) and for a couple of other hiccups, but for over two years my normal state has been 'working on The Second Realm'. I don't take well to this kind of drawn-out process; I prefer to work in short, sharp bursts with long periods of down-time (more accurately, other projects) in between.
Thirdly, there's everything else that's happened in the last three months, particularly with my day-job. Since there are issues of client confidentiality involved, I shouldn't say very much, but what I will say is that it's been impossible to tell, week to week and sometimes even day to day, when I would be in work and whether I would get paid if there were cancellations. As a creature of routine and habit, I've found this hugely exhausting and disruptive. I am desperate for the Easter break to start, but there's another week still to go even before that.
And I feel like I'm letting an opportunity slip through my fingers. I know that bursts of interest like the one I'm reading to all these sharp spiky peaks on all my graphs need nurturing, that they can drop off very quickly if you don't keep delivering. Ideally, I need a new episode of The Second Realm to put out in no more than about three weeks' time, but my strategy for 'delivering' seems at the moment to be 'hiding from the blank space at the bottom of the page in the next episode' and playing lots of World of Warcraft.
So I'm appealing for suggestions (besides the obvious ones, like 'less internet/gaming/moping') - what can I actually try to rejuvenate my inspiration? How do I tackle scenes where I'm getting stuck every other paragraph trying to work out what a character would say next?