Not quite an attack, but almost.
It’s scary – feeling like I can’t write. I think it may be the kind of fear that wakes me up from nightmares. It’s a taunting fear, too – it’s like the music buildup in horror films, the kind that goes into a crescendo just to calm again around the next corner, then climb again suddenly when the monster jumps out of the shadows.
It’s a vacant feeling, too. Like something disappeared. My rational, logical mind knows that nothing disappeared, that it’s still there somewhere and that today, for some reason, I just couldn’t reach it.
Instead of writing, I tried researching. And I got very upset about that too, since I couldn’t find the price of paper in the seventeenth century. I’m not sure it matters, not really, especially as I found some cool stuff that might be very useful and that gave me ideas, but still – the thought that there will be something glaringly anachronistic in what I’m writing bothered me so much that I had to take a walk, reading The City & The City by China Mieville, just to take my mind off it.
So here’s the question – I don’t know how many of you write fantasy of any sort, but if you do… How much license do you give yourself? How much creative freedoms do you think you can take with a story that’s clearly based in a different world?
7 thoughts on “Can’t. Write. Panic. Attack. Plus a Research Question.”
I used to write fantasy … and may give it another go. But as far as the creative liscene I used to give myself, the first draft I let loose and don’t check myself at all and then cut back in other drafts so I don’t seem too ridiculous. lol
Hmm I don’t write fantasy and I’m not a big fan of the genre either so I can’t help you there but with the ‘I can’t write’ part, I can say I’m quiet experienced 🙂
And I know how scary that feeling can be; you stare at the blank page, words look awkward when you put them next to each other and you feel like you’re hollow inside… The scariest part for me is the “oh my god, I LOST IT, I’ll never be able to write again, my existence just lost it’s meaning” part. But it’s never like that, the words will come back- they will flow. I guess sometimes our brains need a little break, that’s all… 🙂
I’ve written fantasy for years without bothering to research Earth’s history – my so-called Middle Ages were totally invented, that’s why I used to write fantasy, I could make up whatever I wanted to and use magic to explain things! 😉
Then I grew older and wiser, started to build a real world, with its history, many countries, rising and falling empires, thus I needed more background. I started studying actual history (I will soon recycle my crusaders screenplay in my fantasy world, as Hollywood doesn’t appreciate real ancient history, haha), doing some research, but then… you’re building your own world, you can set your own rules.
If you’d like to hear it from “the masters”, I recommend either “The Rivan Codex” or how David Eddings came up with his many fantasy sagas and “How to write sci-fi and fantasy” by Orson Scott Card, who made me realize I could make up stuff, but I also had to give reasons and have a logic behind whatever I came up with.
Hope this helps! Happy writing! 😉
Fantasy wise I give myself all the freedom I want. It is my world, so what I say goes. The end. 🙂
Don’t be too hard on yourself – this happens. To all writers. Some days you’re “on” and just putting down the words as fast as you can. The story flows from you. But other days it’s all you can do to write two sentences. It’s painful and frustrating, and the more you think about it the more aggravated you are. But this is natural, and the only way is to somehow work through it.
I think research was a good idea, a way to keep working on the story without directly writing. But, I wouldn’t worry too much about a detail like the cost of paper in the seventeenth century. Not at this point, and especially if it’s too hard to find. Sometimes I just like to throw a XXX in my writing as a placeholder – something I’ll come back to and fill in later. But I don’t want to interrupt my flow just to go find that number. I want to keep on rollin!
I think the stretch and the breadth of creative freedoms is what makes a story. When I put limits on myself (or try to follow some rule-of-thumb) I find myself stifled.
I write fantasy, and let me tell you… I give myself a ton of license. But I also obsess over things just like the price of paper in the 17th century. For some reason, little facts make me feel more validated in the incredibly unrealistic things I put on the page (fluffy flying dragons, for instance).
China Mieville is a great author, though. I haven’t read The City & The City yet, but Perdido Street Station was a mind-trip.