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13 July 2016 ·

Dealing with Writers’ Block – Part 1: Letting go of the previous story

I’ve never really believed in writers’ block – but I do think there are a lot of different reasons why we might have trouble writing at any one time. And right now I’ve hit one of them:
Aissa and Luki, and all the characters and stories of Dragonfly Song, have filled my mind for so long that it’s hard to let them go, especially now that I’m starting to hear lovely comments from readers. But more than that, I’ve just realised that I loved writing this story so much I’m afraid that I can never love another one quite as much. I remember a friend saying that she’d worried something similar before the birth of her second child. Needless to say, she was telling me because it hadn’t come true.
Of course I know this, but like a lot of life lessons (and most writing lessons are pretty much about life) I seem to have to learn it again each time it happens. But at least now I have some strategies.
·      Noticing it. It’s true that I’ve been very busy. I finished the final proof read of Dragonfly Song days before going to Crete and Santorini to research the next book; I came back and jumped into preparing for the launch. But the launch was over a week ago now and I’m still finding lots of busywork today. I think it now has to be labelled procrastination. Time to do something about it.
·      Timetabling. Structure the time that I need to start on the new book and the time for social media, interviews and emails. The new book doesn’t need huge blocks of time right now. It does need concentration and focus.
·      Research. Again, the important thing here is corralling this into a specified time. I could spend the next ten years researching – but I’m not an archaeologist, I’m a fiction writer. I need to sort out notes and pictures, and read more of my huge stack of articles, but I actually have pretty well all the research I need to plan and write this book. I’ll find specific things that I need to know as I write, but I don’t have to know everything first. If I’m feeling truly stuck, a couple of hours of reading is likely to bring me at least one thing that will start an idea.
Tapping for the inner critic, CYA masterclass 2014
·      Synopsis. By the time I finished this, a couple of months before the final proofreading of Dragonfly Song, I was falling in love with my new character and her story. Now that Aissa has jumped to the foreground again, I know that fleshing out the synopsis and asking the questions I need to know, will reignite the new love affair.

·      EFT Tapping. Always my go-to when I need to sort something out. After a round or two something about the story is usually so clear that I have to stop to get straight to work.


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Wendy Orr is a Canadian-born Australian writer. Her books for children and adults have been published in 27 countries and won awards around the world. Nim’s Island and Nim at Sea have also become feature films, starring Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island) and Bindi Irwin (Return to Nim’s Island.) Her latest book is Dragonfly Song, a novel in free verse and prose of an outcast girl who becomes a bull-leaper in Bronze Age Crete. Read full bio