Of late, I've been a bit blocked, creatively. Not exactly writers' block-- but more a sense that the flow isn't what it should be. Even writing this is taking more effort than it ought to.
I know what part of the problem is. Space Opera has been crawling through my brain like a fungus, absorbing my focus away from the things I'm trying to finish. But it's still all setting, very little character or plot. Also, it's not what I'm "supposed" to be working on, in as much as I'm required to write any specific thing at this juncture.*
But more of the problem is just a general creative malaise. The juices are just stagnant, or at best only oozing when they should be bursting at the seams.
So, how to get past this? Part of what I do in times like this is more work on worldbuilding, and in a pinch, mapwork or other goofing around on photoshop**. This helps do a degree, changing the creative channels in my brain and shaking things up.
But this time, I think I need something else. Something to really blow the doors off my brain. I have almost a perverse urge to cover the walls in giant sheets of paper and start scrawling, in an explosion of brainstorming and long term planning. I like the pure visceral feeling of doing this, physically writing these things down. As much as I love working on my laptop and with Scrivener, there is something cathartic in actually writing things out.
I probably won't do that-- at least, not in a giant, take-over-the-walls way. I don't think my wife would approve.
But the other thing I can do is get a better grasp on these elements that are causing me trouble, especially with the space opera stuff. Character and plot are still eluding me, so some writing exercises to play around with these things might be in order. Not stories, not anything that have to have structure or beginnings or endings. Just vignettes, sequences, with no purpose beyond getting my head together. Deleted scenes that no one is going to read.
There's a lot of freedom in this. If you know you have no intentions of sale or audience, it's just for your own growth, you can be indulgent. Infodump like crazy. Have characters just chat, without the conversation having to mean something or drive the plot forward.
I think this can be a very helpful exercise, and might be just what I need to break through these blocks.
*- I would prefer to have at least a rough draft of Way of the Shield, so I have all four of my intended Heroes of Maradaine series started before I move into Space Opera proper. But a big part of this blockage is Dayne is not being a cooperative protagonist.
**- Frankly, this mostly serves to remind myself that I am not an artist.