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Kevin G Hare

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Overcoming Writer's Block

October 21, 2017

Writer's block is that nasty demon that creeps up and sucks the creativity out of us until we can no longer find the words to print on the page. It can be a devastating and debilitating experience to endure and I see post after post on Facebook on how to quell this carefree critter.

It may want to make us quit our project and never write again. It causes us stress because we want to write, we want to see the story through to completion and that extra stress causes extra blockage for the creative flow.

I know, I've been there. At some point it happens to us all but have no fear great wordsmiths, there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

You might be surprised about what causes writer's block and therein may be the key to resolution and a sudden gush of creativity. There is a myriad of conditions that may bring on a block and they will be different for different writers but understanding the problem may help relieve it. Some of the basic conditions may include fear, thoughts like 'I don't think my writing is good enough', 'no one will want to read this anyway', 'is this chapter too short', 'is my book too long', 'writing a book is more daunting than I thought'. These are easy enough to work around - just don't worry about them. No writer ever started out knowing how to write and wrote best sellers the moment they picked up the pen. If they did, well, that was an outstanding condition, a prodigy amongst the common. You, me and all the others joining facebook groups to learn about writing are just beginning a new journey. One that takes practice, experience and a knowledge of crafting a story. Of course, spelling and grammar also take precedence but that's part of learning any new trade. The bottom line I think writer's need to understand is what the rest of the world is going to think about your story comes after. Nobody can form an opinion on something that does not exist. There are no set rules to book length or chapter size, you get a feel for that as you go. There's no right or wrong way to outline or develop a story, find a method that works best for you, it's all about getting your thoughts down so you can figure out how your story will flow and move forward in an intriguing manner. Write it first, then you can be concerned with how the world will think about it because it will be finished.

Maybe you feel you need to edit too much as you write and that slows you down, maybe the time when you sit to write doesn't feel right. You don't have the mindset to get your brain basting with ideas. The first draft of your book is going to be rough, know this and get it into your mind. The sole purpose of the first draft is get the story out of your head. Editing comes later because I find rereading it later gives me fresh ideas on how to make it better. How many books have you read where you thought, 'I would have done that scene different'? That's how it works with your own stories too. Have fun with it. Puke out the first draft if that's what it takes knowing how much fun it's going to be to rework later. This is your world you are creating, if you aren't enjoying every minute of it, pick a different one.

That is the great part about being a writer, you don't have to be a perfectionist on the first draft. That comes in the number of editing stages until you feel it's done. Which, incidentally, you never really get to that point, it is only ever good enough because someone wants to read it.

So, what are some things we can do to get past the blockage beast? My first answer will always be - write more. Yes, you may say I'm being silly or outright bonkers but pay attention a little longer, it will make sense.

You are trying to write a specific story or start on a new one and you can't get going. Nothing is coming to you... nada... zip, zero, zilch. Now may not be the time to work on that one so find a writing prompt and pump out a couple of paragraphs or a short story just on that prompt. If that works, do another one, and another. You may discover two things, it may spark an idea to use on your next (or first) scene and, since this is not a writing project that you have to finish for anybody, you are able to pump out those words like crazy and get it done.

See? There's the mindset and common root of the blockage problem, in my opinion at least. Stress. There's no stress involved with a writing prompt you really have no other reason to write and your performance peaks. The same should be for any story you craft. Remove any thoughts about who you are writing it for and why. Don't think about if your setting works unless you have to be historically accurate. Your first draft is not the time to worry if your chapter is ending just right, the end of Act One was too far into the novel or if you spelled grievous properly.

I have more than one project going at any given time. If I get stuck on one story, I switch to a different one. I can write a blog post, jot down some thoughts on a synopsis, review a story idea or outline for another book - anything writing related that will help me out. And it works, every time. I'm almost always writing something. I don't stick to one genre, I have three blogs to keep up with, three YouTube channels that need outlines and scripting, plus website content. I'm never bored and I always have something on the go to keep the writing process moving.

I don't suggest getting away from your writing and do something else as a means to clear your head and come back with a fresh view. I only do that after a lengthy writing spell and I just need a break, never to clear writer's block. You need to write and that's where finding an easy prompt is your best friend. Write something. Something funny, something stupid, some classy or romantic, anything. It may only take one single sentence to unplug that u-bend in your mind. Talk out loud to yourself or discuss your story with the closest family member in your vicinity or even your dog, but just write something.

I am very much interested in learning what practices others use to get past this ugly critter. Post a comment or reaction and sign up for the newsletter on my site for more tips!

 

 

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