How I broke a five year writer’s block

I wrote a novel called Malspire. It was HARD WORK. It was my first novel and I set some very high standards. It took me around three years to finish it (with help from Liz, Martin and Maria). When it was done, I was a broken and haunted man in terms of creative writing. In terms of any creativity for that matter. Utter apathy set in, and I am still, to a certain degree, climbing out of that dark pit.

Hundreds of hours of work. My blood sweat and tears – pouring my soul into every page. Did it sell well? Nope. It has probably made me around £60 in total. That is $70. I was working for pennies an hour.

Still… Was it worth it? Was it not fulfilling? I wrote a god-damned novel for Christ’s sake! If you had asked me then, I would probably have laughed maniacally while self harming by plucking nostril hairs one at a time. A tear is a tear. They are all the same when you have lost your marbles.

Ask me now and I will tell you this: It was worth it. It was worth it because I walked the fiery path to the temple of knowledge where I saw with my own unfiltered eyes some of the secrets of life. In other words, I got burnt, but I learnt a lot.

Once I got over the fact that I had failed, I started to realise that I had not failed so much as not finished. I had simply taken the first step on a longer journey. I learnt that however good a book might be, it does not sell itself. I learnt that there is not quick route to the goal.

What is the goal you might wonder? That ain’t rocket science. The answer is money. For me, a father and husband, the very first and most important item is money. I have to provide. It is my job. If I want to write stories, then they have to make money. Art is great. Having fun is great. Integrity is important, but they all fall way behind the fact that I have to put food on the table and pay the bills every month without fail. After that I want the satisfaction and joy of creating stories and taking people on a journey into another world. But, money is number one.

I learnt. And now five years after publishing Malspire I am continuing that journey. I am not writing the second part yet (it is meant to be a trilogy). I am saving that. I am instead writing a new story. One of the things I learnt was to not be so hard on myself. The book does not need to be perfect. It needs to be enjoyable and a good read. That is all, and not even everybody needs to like it. I just need to find a group that does like it. They are people who like my writing. Malspire did not sell well, but it got a lot of good feedback. Many people did like it.

I broke my writer’s block by realising that writing a book is only half the work in this day an age of indie publishing. The other half is promotion. Promotion does not have to be so bad. In fact it mostly means more writing as far as I can tell. See this blog post as an example. Here I am telling you all about writing and now you know all about Malspire – go and buy a copy now. What is a good way to promote a book? Write another book. If people like it they will by your other books.

The realisations that I only have to find readers who like my stuff and I mostly only have to write more stuff in order to promote my stuff led me to writing again. It led me to the keyboard and a blank page where I have now written a sci-fi novel called Cybernetic Soul – currently being edited. It took me two months, not three years. It was so much faster due to the lessons I learnt on that fiery path. I suddenly wanted to write again. It was fun again.

I am not expecting the world. I am hoping for good results, but I ain’t giving up the day job yet. These are early days, but the good news is that I am writing again. The plan is to keep going.