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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Writing Tip: That Pesky Writer's Block

Perhaps it's my recent encounter with a pesky tick or maybe it's the funny but gross video below of Enchanted's "The Happy Working Song"....

I've finally come to see the writer's block I've been battling for the past few weeks in a whole different light.  It is just a bug.  And you know how some bugs keep coming back?  I decided that sometimes I need a pesky bug of my own to wage war.  The only way to beat a bug is by going at it full force...

In case you need some help, here are some things that worked for me:

At a loss for the right way to convey an emotion?  Watch some movies or listen to music that convey a mood you're attempting to create.  Watch or listen to enough of these, until everyone around you gets restless for something different, and get yourself to your computer or pen and paper and write away while you're in the mood.

Debating on the right word?  Rifle through your thesaurus and play around with the words.  Turn it into a game and get yourself into your character's mindset.  It's no use if you try it from your point of view.  

Irritated with your characters that nothing interesting is happening?  I have only one word for you--Improv.  It works with actors, right?  So why not in writing?  No matter how outrageous, write out a scene.  Or comment along the side of your manuscript with your impressions of each scene.  

Get your characters to bicker with one another in their voices and something or someone is going to emerge the winner.   Write on.  

Trying to tie up a plotline?  I never thought I'd say this, but organizing it all in writing--whether it be on a bulletin board, chalkboard, stickies, your wall, on your computer, etc.--makes it easier to figure out what is missing.    

Can't find the time to write?  Are kids, your job, significant other, family, friends, or other responsibilities getting in the way?  Block out chunks of writing time and make sure everyone knows they can't interrupt you unless it's a major emergency.  If writing in the daylight hours is impossible, wake up a half hour earlier, or work on your writing when the kids are in bed.  

Even if you manage to cough up 10 or 15 minutes at a time, don't shrug it off.  You can write a few sentences, think of a plot line, develop your character.  It's valuable time, use it to your advantage.  

Friends and family don't understand your anguish?  Commiserate with your writer pals.  Most know of the ill effects of Writer's Block and will offer words of encouragement.  

Or they post things like this, this, this or this, that make you realize other writers feel doubt, worry and wonder...and it's okay.  It's okay not to know.  That's what makes life and writing so interesting.  

Appreciate this incredible community and write so you won't embarrass your writer pals for believing in you.

Can't get in the mood to write?  Sometimes your mind needs a break from the story.  Do something fun and get away from it for a day or so.  Any longer and it'll be difficult to get back to writing.  Trust me, I speak from experience.  

Then, get your butt in the chair and write anyway.  Sooner or later, the nonsense you've written will evolve into something tangible you can work with.  And you'll be back on a roll.  Happy Writing!

Any other ideas?
  
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And if you have a moment, watch this video.  It'll make you look at cleaning your mess (in the home, on your manuscript or whatever else is important to you) in a new way.

14 comments:

m. thompson said...

OMG! You're right. The video is gross. But so funny.

Thanks for these ideas. Very helpful.

PJ Hoover said...

Awesome advice, HWM! Love these posts :)

HipWriterMama said...

M. Thompson,
Glad you found these helpful.

Tricia,
Thank you! Can't wait to hear all about Big Sur...

Christine M said...

Great advice! I hope you've overcome your writer's block now.

Nowheymama said...

What a great post! And you reminded me to add "Enchanted" to my Netflix list.

HipWriterMama said...

Chris,
Yes, writer's block has finally disappeared. Thanks for your help!


Nowheymama,
Glad you liked the post. And definitely watch Enchanted. It is really cute.

Jennifer said...

I never get tired of reading posts like this. Maybe it's because that block can be so persistently pesky! Thanks for the great advice.

HipWriterMama said...

Jennifer,
Thanks for visiting! Glad you liked this post.

Patty P said...

I haven't seen this movie yet...so funny. My daughter will love it! Thanks for the motivation. I've been dragging my feet with writing as well. Take now for instance. I should be working on revisions but instead, I'm enjoying my favorite blog!

MotherReader said...

My girls and I loved Enchanted - even the roaches cleaning the tub part.

Great suggestions on writers block. Mine is going on nineteen years now, so I suspect it will clear up any day now.

Kidding. I'll print your tips for my writing days, whenever I can squeeze them in.

Liz in Ink said...

As always, your go-getum posts are so spot on. I particularly like the reminder that you should even grab 15 minutes in your chair. It feels bite-sized, manageable, to grab that and it almost inevitably turns into more. Good and more...

courtneywrites said...

Great post! Thank you!

Kaylie said...

I get writer's block from impatience. I want to be published now! Now! Did I mention now? So when I think about slogging through 150 more pages until my first draft is done, somehow eating the Girl Scout ice cream in the freezer is more appealing. Don't think about it, just do it (and I'm not talking about the ice cream).

PJ Hoover said...

Girl scouts sell ice cream? All we ever get are cookies.