When I started taking writing seriously, I focused on screenplays. Just like with my novel writing, I attended workshops and classes, got feedback and rewrote. One of my screenplays, Aliens Among Us, Part I: Discovery, even garnered agent interest (I think from CAA. I've moved thrice since then and the correspondence between us is something I've not looked at in years and it's all in a box in my basement) and reached the quarterfinal round of the 1996 Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition. During those years of screenwriting in the 1990s, I'd written three other scripts - Hong Kong Boy, Jenny and Holy Communion and during the sessions of tapping on keys (Jenny was written on a typewriter) I'd spent many collective hours staring at the brown wall behind the IBM Selectric and at the lonely white screen of my Mac. And, this is even with a plot outline! Some days the muse just isn't there.
Today, as I focus on writing my second novel, the muse has taken another vacation. I could be suffering from 'second book blues,' trying to sort out if I really have another story in me. I think I do. I've managed to complete four screenplays, after all, and I've managed to plot out the first in a YA fantasy series for my next book. I'm also trying to adapt my novel, Back Kicks And Broken Promises, into a screenplay. I am, however, also ridiculously busy (teaching, coaching, being a parent and husband and training for a marathon, among other things) and life, as many of my fellow writers who wear other hats will attest, does challenge one's writing goals. When I do get to sit down, the juices just aren't flowing right now. About fifteen years ago, when I'd get blocked, I'd give myself anywhere from 15-30 minutes to see if any words came out. If they did, I'd run with it; even if that meant hitting the backspace key as soon as I'd finish typing. If no words came out after the given time, I'd call it a day and go for a run or watch a movie. One time, when I happened to be working on more than one project, after the time was up, I closed the file in front of me and opened the other one. And the words flowed. Since then, I try to make sure I have more than one project at hand.
Unfortunately - and back then I was working on two screenplays (the same form of media) - switching projects isn't even working for me right now. I'm having a hard time with creating the draft. My novel, Sage Of Heaven, is plotted and loosely outlined (I'm not a big outliner and when I do I keep them very loose so I have room to adapt it as my characters lead me) but I'm stuck three chapters in; not in what I want to happen in the story but in how to express it, describe it, illustrate it. Heck, I'm more than stuck. I'm blank. I've started another novel - well, it's probably going to be a collection of related short stories - set in a Filipino-American community in New Jersey. Switching mindsets has helped the juices flow a little but I need a more aggressive jump start. Like I said, my difficulty right now is with creation, not with ideas.
So, what I've decided to do is adapt a work. Like I said earlier, I am working on an adaptation of Back Kicks And Broken Promises into a screenplay but I think and feel that I need to step back from it for a bit. I spent ten years working on it and it's a very pesonal story that, perhaps, someone else should write the screenplay. (Any takers? Haha!) Instead, what I'm doing is taking my screenplay Aliens Among Us, Part I: Discovery and turning it into a novel. Really, I'd love to turn it into a graphic novel but I'm not an artisit. I'm doing this, ultimately, as an exercise to get my mind back to a writer's mindset - a novelist's mindset - but if I like what it turns into I may pitch it. Who knows, right? Or, I may self-publish it directly as an ebook through something like Createspace. At least I have a fleshed out story that's more than an outline so it's not creation. It's...adaptation.
Either way, I hope the exercise can get me back to writing; writing with a purpose. If it works, I'll have found my muse and she'll be from another planet at that! (I do believe in aliens but that's a story for another post).
Happy - and successful - writing to all!