August 18, 2011

beating writer's block - part two



A friend shared a quote with me after reading the previous post about writer's blog. It was too fun not to pass on to all of you, too.

Yes, I get dry spells. Sometimes I can't turn out a thing for three months. When one of those spells comes on I quit trying to work and go out and see something of life. You can't write a story that's got any life in it by sitting at a writing table and thinking. You've got to get out into the streets, into the crowds, talk with people, and feel the rush and throb of real life—that's the stimulant for a story writer.
- O. HENRY

O. Henry makes a good point. Sometimes, you have to break from the norm and explore life to become motivated and inspired enough to create.

However, for those of us who can't afford to wait three months between production, here are some more tips for beating writer's block:

•  Play some music. I have playlists set-up on iTunes and YouTube dedicated to jams that help my creative juices flow. I've also become a fan of Turntable.fm for my music-listening needs. (Word of caution: That website can be addicting, and unless you turn the chat 'ding' off and don't plan on DJ-ing, you might end up being more distracted than you were before.) 

•  Re-focus your project. If you're really good and truly stuck, it might not just be you. There might be something wrong with your story. It might be necessary for you to go back to the drawing board and reconsider the direction you plan to take your book. I've had this happen with three of my projects. I'd get about 6,000-10,000 words in, and I just wasn't feeling it. Days away from my work turned into weeks, months and now years. However, by reconsidering the story and thinking up new plot elements, it's possible to once again become excited about your book. I've changed my outlines for all three of these projects and have them filed away in my future projects folder. 

•  Get an energy boost. Whether that comes from caffeine or exercise, use it. I notice I'm almost always a million times more productive after I have a cup of coffee. I've now come to associate coffee with books, and I only drink it when I need to buckle down and focus on my story. Maybe it's Pavlovian training, but now every time I get a cup of coffee I can't help but write, write, write. 

•  Write anything. Even if it's complete crap, just put your pen to paper — or fingers to keyboard — and start writing. You might write something you completely scrap later, but you will be working through the block, which is invaluable.  

•  Make writing a habit. An author once told me that the longer you go between sessions of working on your book, the more likely you will be to face writer's block. She suggested setting aside some time every day to write. If you do that, it becomes a habit like brushing your teeth or eating.

If you haven't already, please check out WriteOnCon. The free online conference wraps up, today, but you can still access the great articles and videos on the website. They cover every step of the process, and I've enjoyed checking it out the past few days.

Thank you for reading, and please feel free to share any tips you have for overcoming writer's block, and happy writing.

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