Monday, January 21, 2013

Writer's Block

Writer’s block, dum-dum-dum-dum.

They say writer’s block doesn’t really exist because it’s only in your head and that may be true, but that’s also where the stories come from, so that still makes it tricky to produce the brilliant, mind-blowing (cough) stuff you usually write. Stress, however, can also affect parts of the brain that are needed to write. And in my case too, when learning to write, you’re not taught how to explore and work out any ideas you might have. You just get graded for your story at the end. This can make you focus more on the importance of the end result instead of how to get there.

Well, as you can guess I’ve been smacked in the face with this little ‘affliction’. And it’s a frustrating feeling. It felt like I was on a remote island watching my characters sailing away on a boat. And they hadn't even left snacks. My little block probably had something to do with the fact that life stuff got in the way of my vigorous writing that I usually do on a daily anti-social basis. Nothing is as unproductive as getting out of touch with your own story.

So I did what seems to be the most logical thing to do, I started rereading the first few chapters and for some reason it all seemed crappy and sucky. So then the next thing I did was brainstorming on a new awesomer (that’s right, I said awesomer) plot that would make it far better than my original plan. This process pretty much felt like my brain had been invaded by a tornado, whirling around all my ideas. And when finally an idea managed to fall on my head, it somehow seemed less good when I said it out loud to someone. But to be fair, the best way to judge a story is to actually read it. Especially in my case since I know (from my teachers) that I have a good writing style despite any seemingly uninteresting plots. In any case, I felt more lost with each day and so I started rereading again and then I realised it wasn’t actually crappy at all. So now I’m making notes and seeing what works and what needs to be adjusted while my characters are pouring me cups of tea in the writing cave every now and then.

My point is that for me putting it away and then reading it with fresh eyes really helped. I also need to remind myself there is no rush, even if I do want to get this story written so badly and start my adventure as an author. You do it right, or you don’t do it at all. That’s going to be my motto from now on. That and: stay calm and drink hot chocolate.

So that is what worked for me, but there are also other strategies that might come in handy if your plot bunnies are refusing to come to you.
-          Talking about it with other people. Either a writing group or friends.
-          Free writing. It’s exactly what you think it is, just take a pen (or laptop) and start writing whatever comes to mind. Let it flow, as they say, and go with it.
-          List making. Make a plan or strategy as to what your process of writing should be and analyse what your plan has been so far. Ask a lot of questions.
You can also make a list of what you want to write and then figure out how you want to go about it. (You can see my post on plotting.)
-          Rereading. Delve into your story so far and read it like a reader would. What would you like to see changed? Where do you want to go?
-          Encouragement. Get your personal cheerleader or be your own. You can do it!

J Write now!