Writer’s block is deadly, even more so when you are committed to penning a weekly serial as I currently am (Bleeder is ongoing at BleederBook.com and on Wattpad at http://www.wattpad.com/story/856099-bleeder, if you want to check it out). This week the dastardly demon reared its ugly head and forced me into battle. Here are some the weapons I utilized in combat.
1. The Book’s Soundtrack
Yes, yes, I can hear you griping already, “But Monica, books don’t have soundtracks.” Well, mine do. I imagine the story as a movie and which tracks would play behind which scenes, and then I make that playlist. When I’m blocked, I listen to it – now handily transferred to my iPhone – on my walks with the dog, while grocery shopping, while cutting the lawn, doing dishes. It helps keep me immersed in the story and the characters, and visualizing scenes, and it usually gets me excited about writing again too. So, #1, music as inspiration.
2. The Ever-Open WORD Doc
I think it was author and friend, Ian Rogers (Temporary Monsters, Black-Eyed Kids), who taught me this one. Regardless of what I’m doing at my desk (paying bills, chatting with friends, editing/reading other people’s stories), when I’m blocked I never get up and leave my desk without full-screening the problematic chapter. This means that every time I sit down in front of my computer, I’m staring directly at the thing that has me so stumped. And every time I sit down, I aspire to plug at least a couple more sentences into it. I find if I do this long enough, I eventually burst past the word dam and back into open waters. Writer’s block is not a permanent condition.
3. Just Write
Sure, what comes out of that may not be sheer brilliance, but sometimes the solution is just doing and seeing what ends up the page. The thing about writer’s block is that it wants you to stop writing, so sometimes I find I just have to defy that instinct all together and push ahead past it. No one sees the first draft but me so it doesn’t really matter how crap it is, it doesn’t really matter if I hit backspace a hundred times the next time I tackle my manuscript, what matters is that I’m not giving in to what would be easiest: giving up and doing something else. Sooner or later, with enough words expelled, I always find my path back to my story and usually in a sharper, more engaging manner than I expected.
It’s been said a million times, but still bears repeating: Writing is not easy. It is a craft. A creative one that’s subject to the tidal forces of life and mood and interruption. But like all things that are difficult, it is important not to give up, but to seek out the solutions that will work for you. These are three of mine, feel free to try them at home. Though, of course, exact results not guaranteed.