Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Writer Wednesday

Every writer has gone through it at some point. Call it writer's block, a missing muse, a lack of inspiration. Whatever you want to call it, it's never a pleasant feeling to stare at the blinking cursor, your mind as empty as the page your blank gaze looks through. It's not that you don't have an idea, you just can't seem to find that connection. It happens to us all. Even the greats. But fear not, my scribbling friends, there is hope on the horizon. Today I am chock full of tricks to get that inspiration back.

Tip #1 Take a trip that is connected to your book. whether it's to the setting of the story or just a character's favorite coffee house, this trip is about connecting with your characters, so make it count. Got a fashonista? Head to the mall. Try some things you could afford if you gave up eating for a month. Maybe two. Is your main a caffeine guzzler with a fifty bucks a day Starbucks habit? A caramel Frapacino might just put you back in touch with the jittery java junkie. There has to be something around you that relates to your characters. Find it and immerse yourself in it.

Tip #2 Write a blog from a character perspective. Character Monday's are as much for me as they are for my readers. Sometimes it helps me get my juices flowing when things seem to a little tougher than they should be. And it's fun to explore the voice of characters other than the main.

Tip #3 Call a friend who will let you talk about your story. Explain it to them. Explain the problem, explain where you want to go. You'll be surprised how the process of making them understand what you are trying to say gets things flowing again. A critique partner is good here, since they know the back story, but sometimes a fresh mind is good too.

Tip #4 Focus on something else for a little while. Let's face it, sometimes we all need a break. Sitting staring at the screen blankly is frustrating and sometimes you need to walk away. Clean the house, work on a prject you've been putting off, run on the treadmill. Do something that doesn't take your concentration and let your mind roam. I'm amazed how many times this works for me.

Tip #5 Focus on one sentence. After that sentence, focus on a second. Don't worry about the big picture, just focus on the next sentence. It never ceases to amaze me the seamless flow from this technique into rapid fast-as-my-fingers-can-fly typing.

Tip #6 Write something else. A blog post, a short essay, an email to a friend. Usually the act of sitting at the keyboard makes it easier to stay there.

Tip #7 Skip a part that's giving you trouble. There has been a time in the past where for a period of time, a chapter existed as a list of things I needed to happen in that chapter to set up the next chapter. I moved on and when I came back I was able to flow through the chapter with ease. If you can focus on something somewhere else in the book, don't dwell on what you can't get to work. 

Tip #8 Sometimes none of these tricks work. That is the moment when you need to reach deep down inside yourself and JFDI -- just fricking do it! I know it's hard. I know it's grueling. But the longer you keep at it, the easier it gets. Do it for ten minutes one day, then twelve the next, fifteen the next and so on. So what if less than half of it is crap, the point is to get words down. You can refine them later. 

So there's 8 good tips on how to get yourself out of rut. Now how about you? What helps you when you get stuck?

1 comment:

  1. Great tips Elizabeth! A friend of mine was actually stuck on writer's block the other day so I'll have to share this with her.