Something that I can say without any doubt is that as writers we have all had moments where the words just stopped. It’s not that I don’t have a story to tell (okay, sometimes it is), but that I just don’t know how to tell that story in any way that seems even remotely satisfactory. The words that should be coming out with easy aplomb simply stop, and if I can get them out at all, it is only with an effort that makes smashing rocks look like easy work. Of course, this kind of writers block is frustrating, especially when you have deadlines, or even worse, a story that you really want to tell, but can’t. So, one of the things that a writer has to master is the art of going with the flow. We all know that muses are fickle beings, and much as (sometimes) we’d all like to chain up our muse in the closet so that he’ll/she’ll be within easy reach for a quick smack whenever necessary, life just doesn’t work that way. Even if it did doing something like that would probably be considered kidnapping.
So, when inspiration strikes go with it, even if that inspiration takes you to weird places. This past week I sat down to write what was supposed to be the start of a story. What I got was the introduction to a fictional research paper, written by a fictional author, in a fictional world. Nonetheless, it’s been an interesting project (I’m about half-way through), and thoroughly enjoyable. So far I think that it’s also quite good. Needless to say this isn’t what I’d planned to write. Really, I was pretty surprised at what it turned into, especially when I put in the first footnote. However, as I said above, when inspiration strikes you have to go with the flow.
Pushing limits is also something that is important for artists of any kind. This doesn’t mean that limits shouldn’t be respected (some of them are there for very good reasons), but never be afraid to try something new. This has certainly been new for me, but I have to say that it flows well into my own style. I’m used to academic writing, and I’m fairly good at it. Applying that to fictional purposes simply hadn’t occurred to me before. I have no doubt that others have done this before (in fact I’m fairly sure that both Terry Prachett and Douglas Adams had something similar), but it certainly isn’t common, and we all like to be unique… right?
Regardless, I’ve said before and I’ll continue to say: write what you write. Don’t try to be your favorite author because you never will be. No matter how much you try you will never be J.R.R. Tolkien, Frank Herbert, Clive Cussler, or Stephen King. No matter how much I want to I will never be H.P. Lovecraft, Glen Cook, or Steven Erikson. It won’t happen because it shouldn’t happen. Trust me, one Steven Erikson is enough for the world. As writers we all have our own unique voices and we need to find those voices instead of trying to copy the voices of others. Focus on developing the way you write and if that means trying something new then go for it. Maybe you’ll invent a new genre.