Well, today's topic is for 3red! She asked me today how I deal with writer's block, the great bane of all writers, and I don't think I can really handle the topic in a comment. So, I decided to do an entire post about it. Hope everybody enjoys it!
Before we get started, though, I'd like to apologize for it being so late in the day. I planned on doing this post much earlier, but, well, life is rarely how you plan it. First, I shut the internet off for 4 hours or so to work on my book (got my 3000 words). Finally, when I got back on to get to work, it was time to go pick up the goats we bought.
Yep, you heard right. Goats. 3 to be exact. All female. We have the grandam, the dam, and the kid. The grandam (yes, that is the correct word) is four years old, the dam is two years old, and the kid is around five months old. Now, if anybody reading this has ever held 3 goats down in the back of a moving truck with only 1 other person to help and a speed demon at the wheel of the truck, you know how much fun that was.
Anyway, I'd also like to say I am not an expert writer, by any means. In fact, I believe it would take longer than the 100 year lifespan most of us hope to attain to become an expert writer. But, well, I have about 10 years of experience doing just about everything wrong in writing you can, so that has to be worth something. You might want to take those facts in mind before taking any advice I may offer, however.
All that being said, let's move on to what we're here for...
So, writer's block. Has anyone else out there ever had it? It can be a very frustrating affliction, sitting at a computer, ready to type, and...nothing. No words come to mind, no pictures of what's happening in the story you're working on, no idea how to get from Point A (where you are in the story now) to Point B (where you want to be in the story, because you know what to write when you get there). It reminds me of getting stuck up in the mud with a pick-up truck. The tires go round and round, but you ain't getting anywhere.
In my experience, writer's block comes because of one of two reasons. Number 1: Some plot hole is tripping me up. Usually, I don't even notice (consciously) that I've written some kind of paradox, but subconsciously I know it. When that happens, I can sit at the computer for an hour and stare at the screen and think. And think. And think. And still get no where. How I fix this type of writer's block is to sit there for that hour, and if nothing comes to mind, I re-read the entire book to that point. Whether that is a few paragraphs or 20 chapters, I read it all the way through to the point I'm stuck on and see if I can't find some flaw in the logical construction of the story.
And usually I find something, fix it, and voila! the block is gone.
Number 2: I can't get started. Let's face it, beginning to write, even when you did it just yesterday, is hard work. It's like revving the engine when it's too cold outside. You got to let the engine warm-up first, if you plan on getting anywhere.
There are a lot of ways to warm up your writing engine. The one I use: poetry. For some reason, poems come more naturally to me when I don't feel like writing. I choose a subject, an emotion, anything I feel like writing about that day, and start rhyming. This gets me going, and when I come to the project I'm working on, it doesn't seem as difficult to get writing.
Another warm-up I do is to find a poem or short story somewhere that I've written on paper, but haven't typed up yet. I just copy out the words I've already written. I don't know how or why that loosens up the writing muscles, but it does help (usually).
Several warm-ups are out there. You could use a writing prompt (there's a half-billion on the internet). Or find a picture that inspires you to write a story. Or think of a popular song you like and try making the lyrics fit an original story of your imagining. Or write a journal entry about your day or the day before. Or write an entry in your blog (but not too much, as that can become a distraction). Do something, anything, that makes you write. It's the best if it gets you writing creatively.
Think of it this way: singers have to warm-up before a performance. So do actors. Even painters often sketch before they tackle the painting of the day. Writing is an art, and sometimes the magic won't come. So, try warming up and see if that helps. You may find the magic happens.
If, on the other hand, the words aren't flowing, but you know what scene you want to write, maybe the problem is just that you need to relax. Do some stretches, take a walk, or do some yoga. Another great thing to remember: Breathe. Seriously, ten, deep breaths can calm you down quicker than just about anything.
Try changing your music. Classical is said to improve brain-power, while jazz is often soothing. If you like pop, that's great, but I personally find the lyrics distract me a lot more than I realized. Something instrumental with no lyrics helps the words flow the most, in my experience.
Here's some music that might help:
If none of that is working, there are a lot of places to find out more about writer's block. Here's a few I found with some helpful advice (I think):
One thing I'd like to add: sometimes the biggest block is simply the fact that you don't have the time left in your day to write. You have kids to care for or work or a big event planned. That's okay. But try to carve out just 10 minutes a day. Maybe get up in the morning 10 minutes earlier or go to bed 10 minutes later. 10 minutes of writing, every day, adds up.
Anyway, hope I haven't bored you all to death and someone out there finds this useful! Time for the writing quote of the day, and then I'm done, I swear!
Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake. ~E.L. Doctorow
Thanks for reading everybody! I really appreciate you taking the time!