One thing about waiting until later in life to pursue a career in writing is that you have the perspective of having been a parent. This helps when your characters start to act like obstreperous children.
The second book in the series came to a grinding halt recently when my protagonist started acting like a real dick. Even as it was coming out through my fingers onto the keyboard, I was asking myself, “What the hell is he up to?” And yet, I could not steer him away from this activity because it was all valid behavior. I had set up an uncomfortable situation that needed to be dealt with and he was dealing with it. Not well, mind you, but he was dealing with it.
When your kids are misbehaving, you attempt to correct them with talking and timeouts. But you also have to listen to them so they can, eventually, tell you what’s driving them to act out. I woke up at four in the morning the other night and decided to just lay there in bed for four hours and listen to this character.
It took a while but I eventually heard what he had to say and that opened the dam that had been holding me back. Part of writer’s block is hesitation to commit because you think you’re just going to end up deleting it all and doing it over. Finding my way into his head allowed me to see far enough down the stretch that I could commit again.
Normally, I feel bad after a night of insomnia but not this time. I leapt out of bed to get to the keyboard when the sun broke through my window.