At times I have so many writer’s blocks I am tempted to name them Lego. Speaking of which, you will see a new addition to my sidebar. Help Wanted. These are things either I or someone else needs help with.
Anyway, back to writer’s block. I prefer to think of it as DWB. All the really cool afflictions are known by their initials.
I was visiting with some friends recently about DWB. For each of us, the cure is different, but if all the normal cures aren’t working, it’s time to look for a new one.
My normal tried and trues.
1. Leave the scene you’re stuck on and go back to one you like. Fiddle with it until you get the breakthrough and can go back to PS (problem scene).
2. Read someone who inspires you.
3. Sleep on it. Think about the scene leading up to the problem area. Visualize it in your mind up to the stopping point and go to sleep. I often wake up with the problems all worked out. The bad thing about this is, you have to condition your mind to focus on this a bit. The second bad thing is you have to write down the solution as soon as you wake up or it might poof.
4. Work on step-child manuscript. I always have two manuscripts going. If I get stuck on one, I fiddle with the step-child for a bit until I hit the breakthrough. My step-child now has five chapters and various oddball scenes.
5. Listen to music, preferably without words, that represents your work. Listening to music and relaxing in a warm bath is even better. Just let your mind drift through the work.
6. Close your eyes and imagine you are going into one of those elegant old theaters. You walk down the aisle with your favorite treats. You’re the only one in the theater. The curtains open on a scene prior to the one you are having trouble with. You see everything in glorious Technicolor, but you can also smell the scene. The camera pans around and gives you a full view of everything in the scene and the action begins. What do you see? Hear? Smell? What happens next?
This is a favorite ploy of mine because I see my stories as movies anyway. I can close my eyes at any given scene and “see” it. If I can’t, I know it’s time for me to fill in the blanks and make the scene come to life. I have to be able to see the entire book as a movie and not only a movie, but a tangible, interesting movie.
7. Get out pen and paper and write. Clear your desk. Turn off the computer and write. I don’t care if it’s a journal, a letter or part of your WIP. Just right and set your mind free.
8. Go to an emotional scene in your work. It has to be a scene that stirs you. Read up to it and look at what you did right. Feel your work. Realize that this is why you write. You create worlds that make people feel something. Copy it down in your notebook if you need to.
9. Go to your favorite writer’s hangout and pick out an exercise. Get your mind off your work and set it on the back burner. Write a 500 story based on a word. Scarlet, for instance.
10. From Gary Provost’s book 100 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR WRITING. Copy your favorite author or at least one who has written something in the same vein as yours. Pick out a passage and copy it. Let your mind analyze why he wrote in a certain style, why he chose this word over that, why he described this and not that. When you transcribe the passage, it reinforces in your mind how and why he is doing things you want to do.
This had to be one of the greatest epiphanies for me ever. By transcribing the work, I begin to have a deeper understanding of the process.
Years ago, Beth Shope recommended I buy some of Gary Provost’s writing books. I did that this month, using the Amazon gift cards I had. What a tremendous blessing. I am so glad I found these books.
So, what is your favorite method for breaking through DWB (Danged Writer’s Block.)?
“My step-child now has five chapters and various oddball scenes.”
Ha ha. I do this too sometimes.
I should be embarrassed to say this, but I use a variation of your #10 from Gary Provost: I copy — re-type — the last few paragraphs of my own writing. It might be the same chapter I need to work on right now, or it might be the previous (a previous) chapter. But it (a) triggers momentum and (b) helps ensure continuity of tone or style or whatever.
Of course, this doesn’t do jack for me when I need to start writing something new. [g]
i pile my writers blocks on my mental blocks then send em all flying with a mighty kick… the blocks remain blocks, but i feel a hell of a lot better :O lol
Justus, I think alternative works are a good idea. It relieves the stress for me so I can get back to my happy place.
John, I think any trigger is good for writing. One thing I didn’t mention is just that a trigger to make your mind realize it’s time to write.
If retyping part of your work unlocks the block that is perfect. Don’t you find when you get enthused again it progresses just a little bit?
Can i send some of my mental blocks to you, Tony?
any time, julie… i get enough, i’ll make a BLOCKBUSTER! :O lol