A. L. Buehrer What I Write and Why

Friday, February 2, 2018

Strange Ways I Fight Writer's Block

Writer’s block does happen. I have heard people rant about how it’s just your imagination and how “real” writers don’t get writer’s block. “Just keep writing,” they say. “It’s an excuse for laziness,” they say. Oh, okay, if that’s your philosophy, fine, be a snob about it. But for the rest of us, something’s got to be done to get out of the rut.

  I know the feeling. Your mind gets all clouded and dull and drifty. You can’t look at the screen. You can’t remember how anything is spelled. Your vocabulary is down to like, five words. If you start writing, sawdust and dead moths start piling up inside your word document somehow. Maybe it comes from physical exhaustion, maybe it’s lowkey depression, maybe you feel harried by all life’s other demands on your mental energy.

   These are real problems that are going to affect your creative output. It’s only natural. If you know there are practical things you need to fix before you can write—hey, do them. If you don’t know what needs fixed…try doing it my way.

·         Read really bad writing. I know, this is not something most author blogs encourage aspiring authors to do, but it can fire me up. I suggest hitting a fanfiction site and finding a story from a fandom you care about with some really sloppy writing in which the author makes some decisions you really hate. Be angry, be very angry. Then crack your knuckles and open your manuscript. Show ‘em what real writing looks like.

·         Start writing your scenes as dialogue only. Writing dialogue fills up a page fast, and it’s encouraging. It also narrows your focus to one element of your writing so that you’re not grappling with so much at once. Writing fiction involves balancing so many skills at once, it’s no wonder it gets overwhelming. Just focus on making the dialogue work. Come back and write the narrative in later, and feel free to alter it then.

·         Use really weird words and expressions. Don’t worry about your readers. You can edit all you want later. The idea here is to loosen up and get your brain into play mode. One thing that’s sure to cause writer’s block is taking yourself and your work way too seriously. There’s a very fine line between genius and crazy—forget it until you make yourself laugh. Laughing is good for your artist’s mind.

·         Move to a completely different project. Don’t get tunnel-vision on your main project. Always have several other ideas on standby to stimulate your creative circulation. These can be writing projects (probably at least a few should be), visual art or a craft, if that’s your thing, writing a song, building a model, remodeling a room, teaching your cat to sing the entire Ring Cycle—whatever. Just try channeling some serious energy into some other interesting activity.

·         Start a notebooking challenge. I’ll probably end up doing a whole post on this in the near future. I don’t know if this is a thing, or if I invented it, but it involves making a list of prompts for yourself in a notebook. (I know how many creatives are obsessed with notebooks.) The prompts I write typically involve a combination of writing and drawing. Some examples I’ve done are: Draw islands that represent emotions, find random words in the dictionary and write new definitions for them, draw a creature that looks the way you feel…things like that. It’s a great exercise if your creative muscles are stiff.

·         Talk to somebody about your project. If you can find a friend or family member sympathetic to your cause, it can be very helpful to have someone to talk to about what might be stalling your progress. If you have someone in your life who has read some of your work, all the better, you’ll have less to explain. They may have some interesting insights about your project that you yourself were blind to. Other people can be very helpful, even if they have no advice. It’s just good to let somebody else in your creative world now and then.

·         Do something completely out of the norm. Adventure is a great cure-all. Just get up and go somewhere strange, do something unique. The rhythms of everyday life can make you feel trapped sometimes. You have freewill. Go ahead and break them. Remind yourself you’re not a robot from time to time. Robots rarely write great stories.

  So, there’s my advice to those suffering with writer’s block. I like to think I’m a pretty good example of a hyperactive idea-generating dynamo, but I won’t pretend even I don’t get burned-out on occasion. I definitely do. But I’m doing better now. I can feel the change writing this post has made to my brain chemistry. I’ll get some novel-writing done today.

No comments:

Post a Comment