Monday, January 30, 2012

About Writer's Block

There must be different kinds of writer’s block. The worst I can imagine is not being able to come up with anything to write for days on end – egads – maybe even a whole week. Here’s what I think. If you are trying to come up with a new story and only have that blank screen staring at you, suck it up for at least an hour, the whole time playing little mind games with yourself. Look out the window and talk to a squirrel. Decide who you think the squirrel looks like. I once had a teacher who looked kind of squirrely.  Think about the squirrel in your life and talk to him or her. 
You don’t have to physically put words on the page to be writing. If you are a writer, you are writing even as you are thinking. You’re storing your little gems or germs for future use. Try another mind game. Pull on a hair on your arm and see what reaction you get. Now give that reaction to a character. Write the name of the character along with his or her reaction. Go from there. Now how can you say you have nothing and that you suffer from writer’s block if you just wrote about the tears that welled in your eyes as you watched the skin pull up from your arm when you jiggled that little hair?
There must be more than one kind of writer’s block. Maybe writers are referring to a brain fart stopping them from working on a specific scene/chapter/or plot they want to write, even though they could probably come up with a line or two on something totally unrelated. Like a squirrel. Or a monkey. I can relate to that.
My advice is to trick yourself. It is often when you are doing something you detest that great ideas pop into your head, or your characters say things and you wish you were at the computer--so put the horrible duty of washing dishes or whatever is keeping you busy aside. Some may view this as a way of talking yourself into procrastinating on household or other non-writing obligations. And it is. But so what? If it works, use it.
To me the worst chore ever, or at least right up there with cleaning a toilet, is cleaning my bedroom. I’m one who prioritizes, so the first room I clean is usually the one company would step into first. Why clean more than that if they never get past the point of entry? Plus, that is the room that will give the first impression, thus the most important. Second, I clean the next room they might pop into, if they’ll be staying awhile. The kitchen or wherever we’ll eat if they’ve come for a meal. I rate each room in this way, which means the bedroom is last. Company never goes in there, and my subconscious must know this, because I always seem to run out of energy or time before I ever get to it. On those rare occasions I feel I must clean the bedroom, I don’t accomplish much before some character in my head pulls me away. It’s almost automatic. Yeah. Don’t look under my bed.
It’s easy to shut the bedroom door and dance my way back to the computer with a clever line floating in my head.
Try it. Use your worst chore to your advantage. When that blank screen is haunting you, smile and head off to do whatever it is you hate. Trust me. You’ll be back to the computer in no time.

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