I have to admit, I get stuck frequently, where writing is concerned. Currently I’m struggling with a chapter in Sliced Vegetarian where Daisy and Gabe have a fight at a local restaurant. This kind of scene is very uncomfortable for me, yet I know it’s important to my story. Thing is, when you write a scene like this, you need to “caricature” the events–go over the top with what happens, so that the scene is memorable for the reader. This is fiction after all–adventure out of everyday life. Still, a reluctance to go with yelling in public, making waiters and patrons uncomfortable, perhaps throwing food give me the creeps and may be keeping me from attacking the scene with gusto.
This reluctance and subsequent lack of words leaves me with that horrid, no-good, yucky feeling of writer’s block.
Yes, there are those out there who claim they don’t have time for such a nonsensical thing as writer’s block (and I hate them), but I also did a little research on the subject and feel that the monster under the bed is real to a certain extent. Famous authors like Stephen King and Earnest Hemingway have admitted to it, as well as many of my friends in my writing group.
So, how do you deal with writer’s block, work through it, or smash that block to smithereens? Here are five of the best tips my research came up with:
- It’s your responsibility to write–would you ever go to a dentist’s office or other appointment and put up with having the receptionist say “I’m sorry. The doctor has dental block today and won’t be able to help you. Come back another time.” No excuses–butt to chair, fingers to keyboard, and write!
- Write well or write bad, but keep writing!–I think sometimes its easy to get caught up in trying to write your entire article, chapter, or even book in your head before putting the first words to paper. What I learned in my artwork of my younger years is that warm-up sketches help not only getting your pencil moving, but they clutter the page and take away it’s pristine state that is so intimidating. You’re not writing to win the Pulitzer, you’re writing simply to tell a story, give a piece of information, or persuade one reader at a time. No click on the keyboard is sacred, but the action of clicking lots is important. Start writing anything, then polish words and envision great success later. Give yourself permission to write badly, but never give yourself permission not to write.
- Be consistent with your writing time–If you only have stops and starts to work with, you will fall out of the habit of writing and begin a downward spiral where writing is lost to other priorities in your life. Even if you only have a few minutes each day, when you are consistent with those minutes it’s amazing what you can produce. When you jump around with your writing time, your subconscious has no chance to work with you. I firmly believe we all have body clocks that allow the more primitive portions of our brains to help us survive by knowing what to expect. If you train your brain that from 5:30 to 5:45 each evening you will write–guess what? You WILL write! Amazing.
- Write who you are–This may sound silly, but its simply an extension of the thought that success is based as much on who you know as what you know. And what better person to know than yourself? I’m in the midst of reading a good book, The Freelance Writer’s Bible by David Trottier, and the first section is full of self-discovery exercises. Why are these important? Because when you write to your true self, your writing will be stronger and easier to complete.
- Be organized with your writing–One of my favorite books in the past year has been David Fryxell’s Write Faster, Write Better. He too has a chapter on getting rid of writer’s block, and it centers around being organized to write. He used to go to interviews well in advance of his writing deadlines in order to leave time for his subconscious to organize his thoughts before beginning his articles. The difference between what Mr. Fryxell was doing, I think, and what those who get stuck are doing, is that he would jam his head full of content not full of problems about writing. This prepared-to-write attitude helped him produce multiple columns, articles and books for several years.
Okay, now its your turn. What will you write today? When will you write? No pile of dirty dishes or lawn care chores are more important than the chance to express yourself in your own unique way. Go for it, and good luck!