Before I start, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank The Figment’s creator, Mia, for allowing me to guest-blog on her page. For those of you that write and follow this blog, join the forum, get involved and be active. You have a voice. Your story needs to be shared. I cannot emphasize enough how much this site has helped me with ideas; networking and making friends who share my passion. For a self-published author, networking and knowing people who not only share your passion but are willing to challenge that passion from time to time, is crucial. With that being said, thanks being delivered, let’s get on with it.
Writer’s Block. We all face it, we all hate it. We all despise when the words don’t want to come. We all rage when ideas fizzle out like a fourth of July sparkler. For many writers, this is an endless source of frustration—including me. For my own sake, here’s what I can tell you. These times pass if you persevere. Out of the four novels I have written, Hope's Child was the most challenging. The main character just did not want to tell me her story. Ironically, she’s one of my favorite characters to date. Perhaps because she challenged me, I am not precisely sure, even as I write this and that book’s publication is months behind me.
So that begs the question; how do you deal with writer’s block? I can give you a few tips that help me get unstuck but I am uncertain if they work for anyone but me.
• Free word association. Pick a word that grabs your attention and just run with it. Add another word, then another to grease the wheels so to speak.
• Protect your writing time. Carve out a little corner of your day. Half hour; forty-five minutes, an hour, whatever works. Set the time at the same time every single day and when your time runs out, stop. Whether your muse has shut her mouth or not, stop. For the first time, I participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I wrote for twenty two days straight, every day. I carved out the same time every day and whether I wrote 20 words or 2000 words, I wrote. This wisdom was imparted to me by a fellow writer. He said, at the time, the schedule helps structure your creativity. The tactic worked well. I hardly experienced any blocks or stoppage. Some days were slow, I might have only gotten a few paragraphs done but I got the work done. So that was my lesson from NaNoWriMo.
• Music. This idea is offered completely to those of us that are frequently inspired by music. For me, I have a playlist of every song I have ever gotten visual flashes to, some instrumental things that encourage my inner muse to pull her head out of the sand and work with me. (Readers: If you need musical ideas, contact me. I would be delighted to share and discuss what motivates or inspires us both
• Hand-write. I know this might sound odd to some but for me, staring at a laptop screen gets old fast. So to circumvent the irritations of getting stuck, I put the laptop away; get out my earbuds and a notebook. I feel more connected writing this way at times.
So that leaves ideas fizzling or feeling incomplete. I have a kind of entertaining tactic with this. If you have access to post-its or a corkboard and push pins, this idea helps me tie concepts together. Say you have a flash of an idea, or a visual (if you’re like me) and you have no idea how to tie things in, where it goes or what the hell brought it to mind; write it down on a post-it and stick it to the wall next to your writing area or your laptop or whatever works. Keep chaining those ideas together. Have you ever suffered from “what the hell was that idea I had three weeks ago that works NOW”? This helps with that too. We always have times where our muse demands attention right now. This helps get the idea out and, for me can assist in chaining ideas together in a way I may not have considered. I’m a visual person. Often, those visual cues help me find direction. If you don’t have a wall or available post-its, Windows has a nifty sticky-note program that is a blessing.
The last suggestion I have for any writer that struggles. Find a buddy. Find a person you’re comfortable brainstorming with and bouncing ideas off. Keep in mind, make sure this buddy is also someone who is willing to positively critique and give feedback. This has saved my butt more times than I can count when I’m stuck trying to build a story. Other writers outline, I am not that structured. I write by the seat of my pants so to speak.
So those are my words of wisdom. Go. Write. Don’t give up and push on through that frustration. Your story needs a very specific set of eyes—yours.