Sunday, July 17, 2011

Writer's Block

You've all been there. That place where you don't know how to write another word because it's as though your mind has blanked out and you've forgotten how to spell. You start to feel a bit like this guy:

And then it escalates to the point where you start to feel more like this guy:

And you can't think of a single word because you're not sure words even exist anymore and you're confused about everything because didn't there use to be words? Or was it just something you dreamed up and none of it was ever real? And then you just go crazy to the point where they lock you up in a mental inst

itution and diagnose you with Writer's Block disease.

I don't actually believe in "writer's block". Call me crazy, but I don't believe in it. Before I go any further on this idea, I better mention something a friend of mine said to me, because I'm thrilled and flattered that he asked my advice. This is what he said:

I have been working on a developing book(s) idea for t

he better part of eight years. It's shifted and evolved as I have grown as a writer. I'm so close to what I want it to be that I can taste it.

But I'm stuck. I can't get past this last hurdle to see the overall story line. I know what themes the story has (they were the true birthplace of the story). But on top of that, the body that the themes take place in, it's all blurry. I can't figure it out.
Any ideas? Tips? Let me know if you have any thoughts on how to get past writer's block. Cause I can't think of a dang thing!

So, now that I've gone off saying I don't believe in writer's block, let me tell you why I don't believe in it. When writers say they have writer's block, essentially they are saying that they don't know what's going to happen next. They don't know what the story is going to bring or what choice the character is going to make. My advice to all you writers who start to feel writer's block, is to think about those times

when you get Life Block. You know, those times when you just have no idea what the world has come to and you don't know what you're going to do next or what will ever happen in your life. What do you do then? Live.

You feel it out. You get out of bed in the morning and you just let things play out. You have to live life before you know what your own story is. And the same thing goes with writing.

It's the BIC theory/rule/law ??


You have to sit down and write whatever comes into your head. Write the stupid things. Write the funny things. Write the redundant things. Write the brilliant ideas that your brain can finally produce now that your butt's in the chair and your fingers are typing away on thekeyboard. That's my quick solution to writ

er's block. You can't whine or complain o

r pull your hair out because you can't see a clear picture of the entire book. The only way to overcome writer's block is to write.

I remember my high school cross-country coach telling me to push through the pain. When you're running a tough race and your sides hurt, you have to run through the pain. The same goes for writing. There are definitely tough parts, and writing

hurts. But you have to write through the hard parts. Y

ou have to push through the pain.

Now, that may not be the answer my friend was looking for. But that's the simple solution. As far as other tips go, it might be easier if I knew specific details such as genre. I might say something different to non-fiction than I wou

ld to YA fiction mostly because in non-fiction you usually have to write the facts. In fiction it is all about getting to know your characters (something I've written about in previous posts). Sometimes you have to figure out why some things are the way they are. There are a lot of different ways to do this. One thing that might help is a critique group.

For example, my character Sophie is angry at h

er mother even though her mom seemed to do this heroic thing for her. I couldn't figure out exactly why Sophie is mad at her mom. While I was in a critique group, people were saying things about my story and how Sophie is angry and it makes sense and all this and all I could think about was this one instance when Sophie's mom walked in on a particular scene in Sophie's life and the two of them made eye contact and all Sophie's mom did was back away and close the door. She knew

Sophie's one secret that nobody else knew and she did nothing about it. (Okay, I'm going to be really honest and say that I actually didn't think of that specific thing until just now. I wasn't really thinking about it during the critique group, but I was thinking about how Sophie's mom knew what this horrible thing

was in Sophie's life and she didn't do anything.) The best thing about this post is that I just got myself a very specific scene in my mind that all of my character's emotions hang on throughout the entire story. WOW!

Am I good or what? Didn't I say to just WRITE? All you have to do to clear up writer's block is to start jotting things down. Get into your character's head a little bit. Or do some research on something specific. I know i

t helped me a lot with developing Sophie when I researched softball. I didn't know a damn thing about softball, but I had to learn because Sophie is a softball player. I've also found that just writing down your frustrations can help get things going. Try writing everything you hate about writing and stories and plot and themes and then just go from there.

I will also say this one thing concernin

g theme. Dear friend, I don't know what your themes are or even what genre you are writing, but you cannot let theme take over your story completely, no matter what kind of story you're writing. You've got to let the s

tory come out and let action and emotions drive your story. The problem you're having might not be writer's block, but it might be that you're trying to force something to fit a theme that it just doesn't fit. So, my advice is to start writing and see where that takes you and if you wander away from your original theme, don't worry; just go with it. Sometimes we can't force a storyline to follow a set scheme.

If you want your writing to be good and satisfying, then write. Don't worry about plot or theme or morals or anything else. Just write what comes out. And if you don't like something, you can always get rid of it.

In the end you'll be writing some brilliant ideas like mad and you'll feel more like this guy:

(he's supposed to be a happy writer)

Write on!

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