Monday, August 23, 2010

Writer's block

Finally, quiet.

The kids are either in bed or at school or quietly occupied. Dishes are all clean and put away. Same goes for laundry.

You sit down at your computer. You are ready. Ready to write.

And then?

Crickets.

You got nothing. You're stuck and for the life of you, you can't figure out what comes next. You resist the urge to get on Twitter or Facebook or the dreaded Google Reader.

Because it's your time to add to the novel you've been working on for awhile now. It's your time, and you may as well have completely forgotten what that thing with the buttons with letters and numbers on it in front of you is for.

Writer's block.

You have a bad case of it. What should you do?

1. Silence your inner critic. Not everything you write has to be a masterpiece. The fact you're sitting down and getting stuff down? Is an accomplishment to be proud of. Don't get caught up in that voice telling you it's not good enough. You can always go back later and edit or rewrite, and you never know where the "awful" stuff might lead.

2. It's your job. That's right. If you were at an office getting paid for this, would you really be on TMZ reading about the Kardashians? No. No you wouldn't. You'd be filling your time with work. And in your case, that would be writing. So approach your writing session that way. This is your job. So turn off the interwebz and quiet those distractions.

3. Get up. Yes, yes, I know I just told you to sit down and get to work, no matter what comes out. But sometimes? You just need a breath of fresh air. Even if it's out to your mailbox and back. Set a time limit and stick to it.

4. Change of scenery. If you're writing on your laptop or netbook, why not move it to a different room in your house? Or, if possible, take the show on the road, possibly going to a local coffeehouse or library or even a park. Or even shut down the computer and go old school with a pen and notebook. It might inspire you.

5. Writing exercises. Challenge yourself to do an exercise. There are tons just a quick Google search away. Or, of course, check out our very own Red Writing Hood for some ideas. Try something quick that will get your mind going in a different direction.

6. Start at the middle. Maybe you're stuck somewhere near the beginning of your novel. Why not pick up with something that happens later on? Or maybe there's a part that you're really excited about - write it. You can decide how it'll all fit in later.

7. Set a schedule and deadlines. You might not have a certain time each day reserved for writing, but if you can swing it, try it. Knowing you'll have that time will condition you to be ready to go. Also, set certain deadlines for things you want to accomplish. Have a writer friend hold you accountable - and hold him or her accountable for his/her deadline, too.

8. Remind yourself why you're writing. You know, remember when you had a great idea and you couldn't wait to get started? And now you've started, and you're rolling - until suddenly it screeches to a halt. Think back to those heady days of deciding you're going to write. Remember and try to recapture it.

9. What else is going on? Is there something going on that's deeper than just a little writer's block? Maybe you're having anxiety about the subject matter. Maybe it's stirring old memories for you that you'd rather not delve into. Or maybe there's simply too much going on in your personal life. Ask yourself if something is holding you back.

10. Take a break. Did you just finish a project? Take some time to regroup and relax. Or have you finally completed a particularly grueling re-write of a few sections? Maybe a day or two off will refresh you.

How do you handle writer's block? Add your suggestions!

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