Normally, a character will tap on my mental shoulder and whisper a bit of their story in my ear. I always listen, even if they decide they don't want their story to become a book. Only once did I decide I couldn't tell their story.
HOWEVER, I set an assignment for myself: I decided to write a prequel, enemies-to-lovers novella telling the love story of Eleanor Chalcroft's parents (Eleanor was in The Lady's Secret, book 2 of The Unconventionals). I have a plan for this which I will share soon.
Imagine my surprise when Eleanor's mother gave me a blank stare when I demanded she share how she fell in love with Eleanor's father!
Of course while I was deciding this, I returned to working in the office after working at home for 18 months AND enrolled in two grad classes (yes, I am crazy. As if the first paragraph of this post didn't inform you...) It finally occurred to me that Lady Eudora (Eleanor's mother) was not just going to share her most personal experiences to an author who was as distracted as I was. And yes, I learned all about cognitive load in last semester's grad class. So there it was, a fancy description of why I couldn't write.
But that didn't solve my problem. I actually started to worry a bit. For the past seven years, I've been able to write non-stop. With the romances, I usually knew what story was next before I'd even finished the one I was working on. Then I wrote a modern grief/relationship/science fictionish book and wasn't sure what to work on until a publisher acquired my last romance and I had a slew of edits to work on. I thought I was back in the game, but alas.
I am a strong believer in the power of the subconscious. Not in any sort of mystical way (although, why not? Our brains are pretty amazing), but in a "I will consciously state this problem and then not worry about it. Tomorrow or the next day, the answer will be ready for me." It's proven true with freakish regularity in my writing. So I kept thinking to myself "Lady Eudora hated Lord XYZ and then something happened to change that. What was that something? And why did she hate him?"
Finally today, I made myself take a long walk without earbuds. Every time I thought of something I needed to do or an email I needed to send, I shoved it away. Finally, at about step 3,000 she gave in! Not just her, but Lord Hugh (? I think that's his name...for some reason I'm sure it begins with an H) started sharing little bits of their love story. I even had a short scene play out in my head. You can't imagine the relief I felt! As soon as I got back to my desk, I jotted everything down so I wouldn't forget. And I'm taking Friday off of the day job to get some WORDS ON PAPER!!!
Great, all I need is one more reason to procrastinate! As if Instagram wasn't enough...