Today I welcome Author Natalie Charles to my blog! So over to Natalie...
Writer's Block: Writing the Book I Never Thought I'd Write
I remember it was mid-July, 2012. I'd just sent off the rewrite of my April release, THE SEVEN-DAY TARGET, to my editor, and I was more than ready to move on to something new. After all, I'd written THE SEVEN-DAY TARGET twice: once, for the Mills & Boon Introduces anthology, and then again for Harlequin Romantic Suspense. I loved Nick and Libby, but after spending nine months with them, imagining and then re-imagining their story, I was done. So, I practically popped the champagne as I settled onto my favorite writing couch and fired up the laptop.
That was the first time I realized it: my screen was blank. I had no names for my characters, no concept for my story, and no words on my page. I was finally free to write something new, and that freedom was utterly paralyzing.
It was writer's block on a level I'd never experienced. I wasn't just a soon-to-be published writer. I'd achieved publication by winning a writing competition, and that somehow increased the pressure. I was gripped by fears that I had only one book in me, that I'd never write again, and that if I did, I'd never live up to myself as a competition winner. I was almost too terrified to verbalize this fear. To write one book and then to never finish anything again…no. That would not be me! I would write something.
And so I wrote something, and it was awful. I deleted it. Then I wrote something else, and that was awful, too. I kept writing and deleting, tweaking the vague outline I had in my mind. I estimate I wrote 50 to 60k until I finally found a first chapter that wasn't perfect, but good enough to get my book started.
The difficulty I had writing my second book illustrates the fears I've had since winning Mills & Boon's 2011 New Voices. I'd gone overnight from writing for myself to writing for a publisher and an audience with expectations. Suddenly everything had changed, and that terrified me. Severe writer's block was the result.
So how did I finally move past my writer's block? It didn't happen until I took the pressure to publish again off myself. Once I decided that I didn't care if anyone ever read my next book, those words began to flow. I was writing for myself again, getting lost in my characters and swept away by the love story I was slowly, but surely, crafting. I fell in love with my characters and eventually finished the book. The book I never thought I'd write.
I'm constantly learning this craft, and I've finally come to understand that writer's block is fear -- pure, paralyzing terror -- but nothing more than that. It's not a reflection of ability or potential, and it can be overcome when we identify our fears and face them head-on. My new mantra is to write like no one's reading.
What are your best tips for overcoming writer's block?
Bio: Natalie Charles
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Blurb - The Seven Day Target
He never meant to speak to her again. Back in Arbor Falls for a funeral, Special Agent Nick Foster has moved on.
He has no plans to stay in his tiny hometown-or to reunite with the beautiful Libby Andrews. His onetime fiancée broke his heart, and what's past should stay buried.
Libby doesn't want his help. Her childhood sweetheart can never know the real reason she ended their engagement three years before. But when a serial killer targets her, she must team up with the rugged agent for her own safety. Something in her past has put her in danger, and the passion they've reignited puts their future in deadly jeopardy.
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