December 5, 2012

IWSG - writer's block?

sometimes in your writing, you just get stuck. things won't flow. characters won't cooperate. the plot plods along like an old plow horse that's lost its will to take one more step. i think they call this writer's block. whatever it is, it can be annoying and frustrating. you want to throw the whole thing away. i speak from experience.

so what do you do? you can't stay here forever or the story goes nowhere. if you plug in "writer's block" on google or bing, i'm sure you'll get hundreds of sites to visit. it's all great advice, from writers with more experience than i have. but this is IWSG day and though i'm coming in a little late (internet restrictions, you know), i have my own bit of advice. or rather, things that work for me sometimes. (your results may vary, some restrictions apply, beautiful chaos and its subsidaries cannot be held responsible... blah, blah, blah, etc)
--i write like a first grader. sometimes we try too hard to make our words sound perfect and polished. it's hard to make the inner editor go away. but if she's there, she restricts creativity. i try to get around her by writing like i'm back in first grade. "Arathor was angry. He was really angry. He was so angry he wanted to hit someone." i can fix it later.

--i set the story aside and do something else. sometimes it takes days to get back to it. sometimes it takes weeks. that doesn't sound very encouraging, does it?
--i read something in the genre i'm writing for ideas. ok, i've never tried this one before because i've never found a fantasy novel that grabs my attention, but a couple of weeks ago, i was asking my writing friends for help with how to present a certain concept, and my writing partner/friend of many years suggested i read Brandon Sanderson's Way of Kings. wow. what a great story. it's a hugely long book, but i'm intrigued. and it's giving me more ideas than i can use. (it was also very encouraging to read that he's been working on this for ten years or so. gives me hope that i won't take that long.)

--i try out some "what if?" questions. "what if so and so does this?" i try to go outside the box and think of things in a different way. sometimes i have to do this with my husband or my writing partner.
--i explain my plot to one of my writing friends. i do this every once in a while, just to vent mostly, but for some reason, telling her my ideas gets me excited to write again. and it doesn't hurt that she says it sounds like i know what i'm doing.

--i let go of my deadlines. now not all writers can do that. there are publishing deadlines, submission deadlines, personal deadlines. deadlines squash my creativity and i'm glad i have the luxury of taking my time to get this done. that doesn't mean that i don't get antsy to have it done so i can move on, but i have to let it be what it is. my life has been up in the air for a couple of years. i'm still settling into life in semi-rural Montana. i need to be kind to myself. deadlines aren't kind to me.
--i write something else. sometimes my mind needs a break from the epic story and it's fun to write someting short.

--i do something creative that doesn't have to do with writing. i started doing art journals a few months ago. it was nice to have something finished in an hour. my paints are all in a box somewhere right now so i haven't gotten to it lately. time to find those boxes.
--i pray and try to give the story to God. he's the one who gave me my ability to write and the imagination to go with it. he's not going to come down and write this story for me, but he can calm my mind and give me clarity. he knows this story better than i do.

i feel like i rambled, but maybe one of those will help. if you want more encouragement, you can go to Alex's blog for a list of IWSG contributors. 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Those all sound good, especially the last one!

M.J. Fifield said...

I've used several of these approaches when I've been suffering from the dreaded writer's block.

I like the "write like a first grader" thing. I do that and sometimes I don't have anything as details as "he was really angry." I'll have lines that read "Dana says something" or "Dana does something" and then I'll go back just as soon as I figure out what.

Becky Fyfe said...

Those are great ideas for fighting writer's block. For me, I find that writing despite feeling blocked helps me to get passed it, even if what I have written is rubbish and will need deleting from the story later.

Jeremy Bates said...

Oh, do I ever agree. I read some writings that are obviously forced. That tells me that the writer is attempting to be too formal and has not found his or her voice.

I write from the heart and allow the words to flow. I edit with my brain.

Cheers and never give up!

dolorah said...

I've put too many stories down and didn't go back to them. That's why I have so many writing projects - short attention span I guess.

Good tips for writers block though.


Tess Julia said...

10 years! Okay, I should be able to finish before that too. Nice to meet you :)

Loca4crafts said...

I have also found that telling someone about the plot of my story helps me beat writer's block.

Annalisa Crawford said...

I find staring at the ceiling and wailing helps. Okay, it doesn't help, but it's something I end up doing :-) I try not to think about the story, that's when my subconscious roams free and thinks for me - suddenly the way forward is obvious!

randi lee said...

I do a lot of these things myself--especially exploring other creative outlets. There's something about just doing something else for a while that can be really inspiring!