Friday, June 20, 2014

How I Overcame Writer's Block by Jonathan Weeks


This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Leave a comment to win a $10 Amazon gift card and click the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

How I Overcame Writer’s Block


I wish I had an ocean vista to share but, as you can clearly see, my writing environment is far less exotic. I live in a modest house on a quiet little street in Northern New York. We’re just minutes from the Canadian border. There are few outside distractions when I write so I have nothing external to blame my literary failures on. The creative process has not always been particularly easy for me.

Many moons ago, I was a prolific writer. During my elementary school years, I used to churn out crudely drawn comic books by the bushel (derivative superhero stuff mostly). I peddled my work to classmates at a highly reasonable price of five cents per copy and invested most of my profits in baseball cards. When the market for hackneyed comics dried up, I branched off into short stories, poetry and essays. Though I wouldn’t make another dime off of my writing until I reached my mid-forties, I was happy just being creative—for awhile anyway.

After graduating from college, I took a stab at the “great American novel.” That’s when I experienced the ultimate writer’s nightmare. Though my head was full of epic ideas, my keyboard couldn’t translate them. Each session was worse than the last. At first, I couldn’t produce a single coherent paragraph. And then, as self-doubt began to creep in, I couldn’t string more than ten words together in any agreeable order. My quest to become a published novelist was over.

Or was it?

There are dozens of viable methods used to cure writer’s block: meditation, reading, watching movies, talking to your characters (etc.). None of them worked for me. I found other creative outlets while I was waiting for the darkness to lift. I composed dozens of songs on my guitar. I formed an acting troupe with a few friends and helped produce several episodes of a sketch comedy show called Mind Warp, which aired on public access television in Schenectady, New York. Eventually, I tried my hand at screenwriting.

I have heard it said that a screenplay is not a piece of art, it’s an explanation of a piece of art. I find that statement to be somewhat accurate. I was pleased to discover that movie scripts are actually easier to write than novels in some respects. In a screenplay, all the elements of a story are in place without the descriptive passages. For years, that’s what had been flustering me—those descriptive passages!

My jaunt into screenwriting did not immediately lead to a novel. That came later with a little elbow grease. In the meantime, I began writing non-fiction books on my favorite topic—baseball history. In 2012, I was published for the first time. Long before then, I had developed a pretty good working knowledge of the game and had been toying with the idea of writing a baseball novel. When I got around to it, I discovered that the dreaded block was still in place so I wrote it as a screenplay instead.

In script form, The Bridgeport Hammer was a bare bones story that desperately needed to be fleshed out. For months, I stared blankly at my work, pondering how I would make the conversion. I decided to construct it as a memoir. Preparing myself for the worst, I struggled to compose a few introductory paragraphs. And then, something miraculous happened. As I began to identify with the narrator, the story took on a life of its own. The words came pouring out of me as if they had been there all along. After years of failure and frustration, I had finally completed my first novel!

From my perspective, The Bridgeport Hammer is more than just a novel. It is one writer’s triumph over the forces of literary evil. If I can get a few readers to share the joy, then my victory will be complete. You can visit my author pages at Amazon or Goodreads. I also have my own blog with weekly postings. You can find it at: www.jonathanweeks.blogspot.com.

Happy Reading!

“The beauty of baseball is that you never know. The game you’re watching may have somebody turning an unassisted triple play, a pitcher flirting with his second consecutive no-hitter, three guys on third base—you just never know. In Mudville Madness, Jonathan Weeks takes us on a whirlwind journey from the nineteenth century through the 2013 season—through the wild, weird, wonderful world of baseball. Fasten your seat belt and enjoy the ride!” (Jan Finkel, SABR Biography Project)

About the Author:
Weeks spent thirty-eight years in the Capital District region of New York State. He obtained a degree in psychology from SUNY Albany. In 2004, he migrated to Malone, New York, and has continued to gripe about the frigid winter temperatures ever since. A member of the Society for American Baseball Research, he has authored two non-fiction books on the topic of baseball: Cellar Dwellers and Gallery of Rogues. His first novel, The Bridgeport Hammer, (a baseball story set during the WWII era) is being released in the summer of 2014. He writes about the game because he lacked the skills to play it professionally. He still can’t hit a curveball or lay off the high heat.

Check out his “Cellar Dwellers” blog at: jonathanweeks.blogspot.com

1 comment:

Jonathan Weeks said...

Thanks for having me, Judy. I just want to clarify--since I ranted about my novel in this post--that I have two new books available: Mudville Madness (a non-fiction baseball book covering more than a century of baseball's oddest occurrences) and The Bridgeport Hammer (the novel I am so proud of). You don't have to be a fan of the sport to enjoy either.