Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Writers block, and you

Twenty-one minutes ago, according to my Twitter timeline, I was asked about writers block. The particular case was one of the worst I'd ever heard of from an aspiring author - it started last September. Look at the calender; it's September now. When I realised how dreadful this was, I began trying to recall every tip I'd ever received about beating the big bad WB.

One of the favourites: try something new. This can range from anything from new music, a new route to work or school or some other place you find yourself going to every week, reading a new book that's completely different to everything you've ever read, or anything else you can think of that's different in your life. The reasoning behind this is that the unfamiliarity of the subject in question forces your mind to examine it while it's fresh. That new route may contain a dozen ideas for stories that you'll start noticing because the entire area is new to you.

Then there's free writing. Free writing is one of those much discussed areas of writing that involved nothing more than a stop watch, twenty of your best minutes (or even just fifteen), a pen/pencil with paper, or a computer instead, and you, the writer. The idea is to pick a phrase or word to get yourself started, maybe even use it as the title, and just write for the allotted time. It doesn't have to be great writing, once you don't stop until the clock is up. When you're done, you should feel refreshed and ready to tackle that novel that's been hiding away at the back of your mind.

Something I tried recently was going through every single of a band (one of my favourites) and looking for a connection in each one to a story I'd like to write. The creativity behind this lies in finding a new way to tell a story the original author had no intention of doing, like a crossword puzzle, only with ideas rather than words and songs rather than clues. Looking at the lyrics to the songs also helps, in case you don't hear what the singer is saying properly.

These three tips for beating WB have been very useful to me in the past. I'm not going to promise you they work, but they might, and that's the important thing. You won't know until you've tried, anyway. Most importantly though, just write. If they don't work, just try putting your thoughts into coherent sentences, and if and when you get going, you can always edit the badly written parts. Or, if the novel seems daunting, try writing something much shorter. I tried this one as well: flash fiction, or stories less than 1,000 words, are an excellent way to do some writing without having to worry too much about what's going to happen down the road - it's a very short road!

I hope these tips are of any use to you. If you have any yourself, please share them in case these aren't right for our tweeting-writer in question.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'd advise your suffering friend thus: Do something else. As in, stop even thinking about writing. Go out for a long walk. Take up a new sport. Go watch a movie, or lots of movies.

Do anything except writing. And you will quickly find that you think of plenty of ideas without even realising it. As long as you remember to write down these ideas when you get them, you'll be fine.