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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Writer's Block- Can We Beat It?

Remember forever ago, when I promised you a special post about a topic chosen by Harpley (the first Candor Friday's winner)? Well, after much anguish and stress, here it is. And, before you all say it's ironic that I couldn't write about this, it isn't; she gave me two options and this is the second one. I really wanted to write the first one and hopefully I still will. Someday...

Writer’s Block.

Surely you’ve heard of it.

Some writers live by it. Some writers try their whole lives to beat it but can’t seem to get fully out of its grasp. And some writers swear it doesn’t exist.

But what is it really? Can it be beaten? What kind of a disease are we talk about here? One with a cure? Or one writers doomed to suffer from forever?

First, let’s define writer’s block:

According to Dictionary.com “writer’s block” is: a usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible toproceed with the writing of a novel, play, or other work.

(That “usually” part before the “temporary” is a little daunting, don’t you think?)

Seems simple enough. Basically, writer’s block is when a writer can’t write. But, why can’t the writer write? Before we start talking about cures, let’s take a look at some things that cause it:

1) Lack of Inspiration or Boredom with Your Writing

More often than not, writers get bored with whatever they’re working on. It’s easy to lose interest when all the magic of creating the story is gone and all you have left is the hard work of stringing the right words together to for an actual work. So, when another story idea comes along, it’s easy to blame writer’s block for our lack of interest and move on to something else.

2) A Need for Perfection

This is the writer’s greatest enemy. We want so badly to write the perfect story or novel or poem that we end up not writing anything at all. Because nothing we come up with is good enough. And then it’s not long before we’re unable to write anything that’s even mediocre, because we’ve mentally blocked ourselves.

3) Lack of Drive or Dedication (otherwise known as laziness)

I know I do this more often than I’d like to admit. I get lazy with my writing. I want it to be all the fun and games of creating a new story that when it comes time to do the actual work, I just get plain lazy. I don’t feel like writing. I don’t actually want to write. I want to plan the book and then have it write itself. Sometimes, it’s just so hard to put the words together that I just plain don’t want to do it. But, I still try (because I even though I don’t want to write, I want to accomplish something) and when the words don’t come, I blame it on our little friend, Writer’s Block.

So, there we have it. Three reasons why writers suffer from writer’s block. But, as I asked before, now that we’ve examined the disease, is there a cure? Or, are we all just doomed?

Good news. There is definitely hope for writers. As long as you’re willing to put some time and dedication into it (and, of course you are. You’re a writer, after all) you can beat this thing yet.

The first thing I’d like to address, is that some of you are probably thinking that your writer’s block isn’t caused by any of these things. You’re just plagued with the inability to write. And, I know how you feel.  But, I firmly believe these are the three causes. And, I also believe more often than not, we’re not aware of the reason for our pain. So, if you’re simply unable to write and you don’t know why, take a step back and ask yourself which one of these things you’re suffering from.

All right! Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at some ways to beat this thing.

1) Give Yourself an Incentive

Last year when I was doing NaNoWriMo we had a whole basket full of peanut butter cups left over from Halloween. And, I wanted to eat them all at once. Because peanut butter cups are my favorite.

So, in order to both keep myself from eating too many of them, and also get me to up my word count a little faster, I only allowed myself to eat sugar of any kind (not including the sugar I put in my tea because I need tea when I write) every 5,000 words I wrote. Which meant I only got to eat sugar about every other day or so. And, it made me write a whole lot faster because I didn’t want to go two days in a row without a snack.

Maybe it’s not sugar for you and it doesn’t have to be 5,000 words. But, find something that will spur you on to write more and use that as a reward for writing.

2) Give Yourself Permission to Write Poorly

As I said above, perfectionism is the writer’s greatest enemy. We try so hard to write the perfect novel, that more often than not we end up not writing anything at all. So, a good way to beat that is to let yourself write badly. Even the famous authors start out with a rough draft. J.K Rowling had to edit bad parts of Harry Potter. Trust me, I read excerpts of it. No lie.

3) Look at it From a Different Angle

If you are having trouble writing that one particular scene, something that really helps is looking at it from a different perspective. Say your book is written from Fred’s perspective. Try writing the scene from Joe’s. No, the scene won’t make it into the book. But, it might help you figure out what’s really going on. Maybe getting into someone else’s mind will help you understand what’s happening and help you write the scene from the correct point of view.

4) Work on Something Else

I know this is going to sound like bad advice, but hear me out. If you’re having trouble working on whatever you’re working on because you have a new story idea, I have found this really helpful. Open up a new document or get a blank piece of paper or so whatever it is you do when you start writing a new story. Then just start writing. Don’t worry about it being perfect or making sense or anything like that. You’re not actually going to show this to anyone. Just write about that idea you want to write about. Either the scene playing over and over in your head or type up the outline you’re trying to figure out. Just do it, without thinking too hard. Just get it out of your head.

I find this helps me get the idea out of my brain without me having to worry that I’ll lose it. Then I can go back to my other project with a clear head and undistracted imagination.

5) Take a Step Back

When all else fails, walk away. Not forever. Doesn’t even have to be a whole day. Just take a step back, work on something else. Watch a movie. Take a walk. Hang out with friends. Do something else. And then sit back down and try writing again. Oftentimes we try too hard to write that it takes away the creative juices. So long as you make sure to go back to it afterwards, there’s nothing wrong with walking away from it for a little while.

And there you have it. Those are my ways of beating writer’s block. As always, if you have anything to add, feel free to drop a comment below. I love hearing from you all!!!

And, I don’t usually do this, but I’m having trouble making a decision, so I’m just going to go ahead. I’m working on a story idea and two of the characters adopt a baby boy. Only I have too many name choices. So, let me know which one you like best:

Remus, Cassian, Cato, Felix, Junius, Julius, or Titus. (If it’s helpful, other characters in the series are named: Gypsy, Apollo, Eris, Rysh, Romulus, Leon, Callie, and Chloe).

So, drop your vote in the comments section below and we’ll see what we come up with!

See you all on Friday!

1 comment:

  1. Always good to hear from you and see that (and what) you are writing.

    My vote is for Cato