Writer’s block. We’ve all been there. Sadly, it’s unavoidable. There’s just nothing more daunting than the prospect of having to fill a blank page with intelligible words. I mean, it’s hard work sitting down and taking the time to create a master piece, but we must. And we do. Not because we have to, though. We do it because we want to. I’m not sure about you guys, but there’s nothing I enjoy more than telling a story and it just so happens that writing it is the perfect way for me to do so. I think that’s the key, though. You have to love it, otherwise a small case of writer’s block will turn into something insurmountable. Either way, I have a few tips that I’ve stuffed away in my toolbox from over the years and I hope at least one of them proves useful.
It’s Your Story, Know It
I think I expressed the importance of knowing what you’re going to write before you sit down in an earlier post about brainstorming, but I want to reiterate. Personally, if I’m unsure of what I plan to write beforehand, there’s no way it’s randomly going to come to me while I stare at a pixelated piece of paper.
So, my suggestion? Map it out. Write an outline. Create a story board. Do something that will get those creative juices flowing. Clichéd, I know, but it works for me. Sometimes I scribble an outline and add scenes and major plot pieces as they come to me, but this way I always have something to refer to if I ever get stuck. I decided to try something new for The School of Arts, though, and I’m discovering that it’s extremely helpful. I bought myself a cork board, some fancy markers, a stack of neon note cards, an assortment of green tacks and a left over piece of yarn, and with this pile of junk I created a storyboard. It’s hanging over my desk, so whenever I sit down to write it’s there, waiting to inspire me and keep me on track. I can add a note card or two whenever something comes to me, but I always know where I’m going next. It also helps that I basically have the entire plot planned at this time, but even if you’re only sure of the first few chapters, it could help to keep you on track.
Whatever You Do, Don’t Procrastinate!
Again, it’s clichéd, but don’t put off `till tomorrow what you can do today. Just don’t. Because chances are you won’t do it tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that and eventually a week becomes a month and you’re exactly where you started. Square one.
Set goals and create incentives for when you accomplish them. Finish a chapter, eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food. Finish another chapter, watch an episode of your favorite tv show. Finished three chapters? Heck, break out the Play Station and play a few matches of Uncharted! Whatever helps you de-stress and get back in the writing mood.
There’s never a deadline set in stone, unless of course you’re a published author working on your next big manuscript, so it might not seem like such a big deal to take a few days break, but they add up. Trust me. More than once I’ve found myself stuck in one of these writing doldrums, my sail devoid of that much needed inspirational gust of wind. Lucky for me, it’s always come, but I try to avoid the temptation of putting it off as much as possible.
Writing is a Two Way Street
You know that saying, about how love is a two way street? Well, writing is the same way. Everything you give you have to get back, otherwise you’re never going to find the inspiration you need to continue. You have to want to do it, so each page you finish is as rewarding as the last. If it weren’t for writing—the simple freedom of words on a page—my life wouldn’t be the same. Sure, I’ve hit a few road blocks along the way, but they’ve never kept me from my following my passion. I hope that every writer can say the same, because the only thing standing between us and our chance to make it in this industry is ourselves.
I’ll leave you to ponder this, a passage from Chasing Evelynn that shows the main character expressing her own passion for the written word. . .
“there was something endearing about words written on a page in a time long before now – a time when things had to have been different – that inspired me.” -Evelynn
~A Fellow Writer