Once upon a time. In a faraway land…….(*Stares at screen blankly for several minutes*)
Dammit! Writer’s block sucks, right? You’re sitting there trying to create a masterpiece and all you’ve got is Chapter 1. Well, I have a confession to make. (*Closes eyes and waits for virtual mudslinging!*) I’m kind of embarrassed to admit this…but I’ve never had writer’s block before!
What? A writer who’s never had writer’s block? That’s blasphemy!
Okay, okay, allow me to explain. Most of the time when I get a story idea it flies at me in a nauseating frenzy. Like some deranged prisoner, desperately struggling to escape the bars of my mind with every fiber of its being. I could be driving/cooking/washing my hair and then WHAM…it hits me! And my mind just starts racing. Down the track at high speed, Danica Patrick style.
Character traits. Possible settings. Themes. And I am usually able to come up with a beginning, middle and end right then and there.
That’s not to say that once I begin the actual writing process things don’t change. In fact, a lot changes! In my debut novel, On The Run (The Moriya Chronicles: Book 1) for example, there is a very unexpected love story that develops between two characters toward the end of the book. And it happened completely unbeknownst to me! It may sound crazy to someone who has never had the honor of breathing life into a character, but once you do…beware! Those little people scurrying around in your head will literally develop minds of their own and start doing things that even their creator wasn’t expecting. In fact, on some days I feel as if I am nothing more than a vessel at the beck and call of my demanding subjects.
So what happens when I run face first into a wall? Well…I simply skip it and move onto something else. The next scene. The next conflict. The next chapter. I know where the story is going so its easy for me to navigate around the gray areas and address them later. Now if I’m at a place in the story where I simply can’t move forward…then I stop moving forward.
I’ll do some research. What does Oregon really look like? How do you properly hold an axe? What are some Irish last names?
Anything that allows my mind to remain in the right place, but removes the focus from that crucial scene I just can’t seem to finish. Or I concentrate on defining the character’s traits. Is her hair the color of flax or straw? Are her brown eyes kind or playful? Will the story be told from the third person, or multiple points of view? All of this allows me to avoid focusing on the problem, and keep my mind on the end goal…crafting an unforgettable story.
If you don’t use outlines and you have the grand misfortune of suffering from that which cannot be named, (*Harry Potter reference*) here’s what you can do:
• STOP! I repeat, stop aimlessly gawking at your computer screen! Good. Now walk away. Slowly.
• Take a deep breath. Prolonged oxygen deprivation from holding your breath during a nail biting scene you just can’t seem to conclude can do some crazy things to a person’s mind.
• Go for a walk or a jog. Get that blood circulating and those creative juices flowing with a little activity and a nice change of scenery.
• Eat something. You know, like real food. Not the Redbull and Swedish Fish combo you’ve been gorging on to keep yourself conscious during the wee hours of the night.
• Relocate. Is there a place in your house where you feel the most imaginative? By the fireplace? In the recliner? Locked in the bathroom with the lights turned off so your children think you aren’t at home? Wherever that place is…go there. Promptly.
• Look around. Your favorite photograph. That dirty fish tank. Even the sweater that you bought on clearance at Macy’s that you still haven’t worn. Draw inspiration from anywhere you can.
• Pick up a good book. Is there an author that inspires you? Reread that passage from your favorite series that still makes your breath catch in your throat. Let the stimulating energy seep in and use it to help you propel yourself forward.
• Press play. If a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, perhaps a few minutes of Julie Andrew’s voice will help you bulldoze through that mental block with 1960’s class. Let your playlist inspire you to make music of your own.
• Turn to the boob tube. Perhaps an episode of a television show or a clip of a film that’s on pace with your story will help get things going.
• Pick someone’s brain. My brother, who also enjoys writing, once had a bad case of writer’s block. He came to talk to me about it, and we somehow got into a conversation about a movie I really enjoyed starring Liam Neeson called, The Grey. And then…Wham! Just like that, writer’s block solved, and now his sci-fi novella has a cool group of undomesticated canines featured in it. Sometimes, its just that simple.
• And if all else fails…give your brain a rest. Call it quits for today, but come back tomorrow. And the next day. And the next. Even if you only write a paragraph. The only way to complete the best story of your life is word by precious word.
So what’s your experience with word block? Or have you, like myself, never experienced it before? Sharing is caring and I’d love to hear from you.
Happy Writing and Reading…and Everything in Between 🙂