Sunday, May 1, 2011

Writer's Block

Have you ever experienced this phenomenon? If you pen much, and especially if you do it for a living, the answer is most likely yes. But, what *is* it? I think most of our preconceived notions of writer’s block are just wrong. Normally, it isn’t the lack of *any* ideas that plagues us, it’s the lack of *good* ideas. We think that if we cannot come up with something epic, and immediately, that we cannot write anything, and that simply isn’t true.

I have experienced times when I was stumped on something to write about, both in fiction and non-fiction. Sometimes, depending on what’s going on in your life, or even just that day, it may be best to simply walk away, as we so often do. If we are feeling ill, or hungry, or really tired or really stressed-out, our creative juices may not be at full capacity anyhow. But many times, our muse can be revived from its slumber simply by writing. I know it sounds funny, but it actually works.

Open a blank document, and just start typing. Tell a story, any story. Get something in your head, and run with it. The inspiration could be a number, it could be a letter, it could be a movie you’ve seen recently, it could be a pet, it could be a clock. Literally anything works. And don’t worry about jotting down publish-worthy material, because you probably won’t, and that isn’t the idea anyhow. The idea is to keep our thinkers limber. Any athlete knows that he can’t ignore training and expect to be competitive at the big event. Writers, too, need to work out very regularly.

If you blog, write one every day when you have a spare fifteen minutes. I know time is valuable and hard to come by, but days where a spare fifteen minutes actually isn’t available are rare. It’s okay to skip a day here and there, but don’t let that become habit. You know what they say about idle hands...

If you write fiction or poetry, set a word count for each day and try really hard to meet it. Mine is 500 words per day, and often times I go way over that, which makes me feel good. What I end up with is likely a folder full of garbage tales, but they are *my* garbage, and I feel that with every story I pen I improve. Small improvements are much more important that large leaps, trust me. Keep writing, keep learning – those are the only cures for writer’s block. Of *course* you have writer’s block if you don’t write. People who run every day are far less likely to pull a muscle, ya know? We have to stay on the ball, or our muse becomes cloudy and tired.

So, instead of staring at the intimidating blank white page in front of you, get your hands on the keys and type words. See where they go. I’ll bet you will be surprised at what you can accomplish, simply by making yourself do it. In the end, you’ll find it’s actually far easier to trod through the mire and force words onto the page than to tell yourself it isn’t a good day for writing and play Facebook games instead. Try it. You’ll like it.


Jeffrey Beesler said...

Right now the only block in my way is my lack of energy from having been blogging so much during the A-Z Challenge. I set out to visit all 1282 blogs during A-Z and I'm not about to stop now. Still, I have got to take a moment for myself and my writing.

Thanks for sharing, and it's a pleasure to meet you via the A-Z Challenge!

Eliza said...

What do they say about idle hands? Big feet? Wait, what? Good post! Also talking with another creative person helps too. Start riffing on ideas back and forth and maybe something will spark. Which is why this A-Z challenge is so good, to connect creative people with creative people, especially connecting writers with people who actually write!

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Derek, we did it! Congratulations! I have an award for you!!