The SketchCop on writer’s block.
When I wrote SketchCop – Drawing A Line Against Crime, I found that one of my biggest challenges was writer’s block. After a career spent writing millions of words, onto tens of thousands of pages of police reports, you would think that it would be simple for me to write a book. Not true. Writers block is a something I experienced many times. If you don’t believe me, think back to when you were stuck staring at a blank computer screen. Instead of seeing words, all you could see was the look of frustration staring back at you in the reflection from that empty page on your computer screen. It’s that look that makes you want to throw your hands in the air and give up. Take my advice – don’t!
Surrender is NEVER an option. But taking a short break won’t hurt. Sometimes I’ll walk away. You have to. Taking an occasional break and returning with a fresh set of eyes and a new attitude can be the best approach. Walking away is a technique I learned as an artist. It’s something that I still do when I am working on commissioned art, or a forensic project.
Another alternative that works well for me is to write… and keep on writing. Letting the words spill onto the page in all their glory can be helpful. Don’t worry about poor spelling, poor grammar, or poor sentence structure. It makes no difference how it looks. What matters is that you put something down. You can always go back and tidy things up later. In my opinion, what’s most important is that the idea gets on paper.
I have also found it helpful to keep a journal, with writing tool, nearby, at the ready. Or, if you’re a tech geek like me, a computer. There are many times I have been jolted awake at 2 a.m. and just had to jot that idea down before the moment of inspiration passed. Creating a quiet place and time to write is important too.
I think that the hardest part about writing a book is getting started. How you approach writing and the enjoyment you receive, is personal. I was lucky because cops are great storytellers. But, telling stories is much easier than writing them. Thankfully, I overcame writer’s block so I could share mine with all of you.
My best advice is not to panic. Writer’s block will happen. Sometimes you have to just push through it. And before long, your book will be finished and you’ll be ready to tackle the next one.