This is an edited post from my old blog. Thought it might be useful for those having one of those days in writing. So read on…
When words won’t come…
A writer is most happy writing. Yet sometimes our jobs, family life or even writing schedules become so humdrum that words are difficult to put down. Even more likely, the words are there but the will to capture and put them down in proper order just isn’t. This last happens to me more often than not. I can happily daydream perfect sentences and even scenes in my head but when it comes to putting them on paper or the keyboard, it seems too much like work! There is no FUN that writing is supposed to be. So what do we do when we need to get the words from our head to our fingers? Or even get them forming in our head, when creativity just seems as elusive as rain in an Indian summer.
First is it a block? A rock which can’t be got over? Or just a pebble you are looking at from very close up?
Are you making too much of a minor problem? Are you just tired ? That’s the first thing which dries up the drive to write. A good night’s rest or playing hookie from writing if you don’t have a deadline looming can do the trick. It’s very well to tell ourselves we must be regular but Sunday was made for a reason, you know. New experiences, meeting friends, even cooking a new recipe, trying out a new eating place, can all get you away from dwelling too much on your frustrations. Distract yourself from the problem. It has the scientific basis of freeing our synapses from impulse overload so that transmission can resume without the offending psychological fatigue. The reference of psychological fatigue brings us to the next question,
Are you sick of your work in progress?
This doesn’t imply that your work isn’t right or not proceeding the right way. It can just mean that the routine has got overwhelming. You’ve been ‘living’ inside the heads of the ‘same’ characters day in and out. Thinking in their skin. This can get tiring. It does for me because I write emotional stuff and and to write with feeling can be exhausting. You need to replenish the store. Or sometimes the characters can for whatever reason not just talk to you. (you’ll either get this or think I’m a lost cause.) Staring at the blank page is just not helping. You can do any of these in such a situation :
Take a walk.
I read somewhere it was someone’s top Writer’s Block Curing Tip and it is mine as well. A walk, preferably somewhere you can admire the serenity of nature, will do wonders. Must be why Keats wrote ‘Ode to Autumn.‘ ‘Ode to a Nightangle‘, Robert Frost wrote ‘Birches‘, Wordsworth wrote ‘Daffodils‘. Nature has the magic spray a whiff of which can cure writer’s block and a daily dose serves as a tonic which builds your resistance like Vitamin C building resistance against colds 🙂
Mull in isolation.
Writing begs solitude. Mental if not physical as well. This isn’t always possible. But even if you’re shut up in a room or just not talking to anyone else, it can serve. At a crutch, you can pretend to be reading. If you have music blaring in your ears, it can serve. For me, waiting for something to cook, when family thinks I’m busy in kitchen does the trick 😉 Activities which keep your hands busy while not requiring active mental engagement can serve. Washing dishes, cooking, maybe driving for some…you can devise your own. You can feel and think your characters through in those minutes and sometimes get startling ideas. Of course keep your device or pen handy for these times as memory can be very short term. A blink and it is gone!
Read over what you have written
This can provide insights you have missed. But you must read the right way. The ‘right’ way for me means taking apart every dialogue and thought of the character or characters and see if it really fits them. Have I missed some hidden motivation because I was in too much hurry to pour my thoughts on the keyboard? Or too taken up by the ‘beautiful’ (to me atm anyway) metaphors my brain had come up with? Language and expression has a way of cloaking your character’s real thoughts and motivational twists, I’m still learning this, though it’s happening less frequently than when I began seriously to write. A chance phrase would crop up and I would ignore what my character really would say in a scene just so I could use that phrase which at that time sounded witty. Writing is trickier than driving an obstacle course, I tell you.
Face it, you could just be acting lazy
Yes. Writers are also human beings so why can’t we have our weak moments? But too few of these and you get into the habit of shelving your work. It just wouldn’t call out to you that alluringly if you start to feel it’s a drag. So you have to dredge up enthusiasm when it isn’t there and suddenly after you type half a page, you are IN the story and it’s there. It’s happening. I read in a Reader’s Digest article that the motor system of the brain can influence our emotional state. For instance, smile, even when it’s a plastic smile and sometime later it can become a real one. Start writing, move those muscles, act like you love it and viola! a minute later, you are! Okay, okay sometimes it takes half an hour. BUT YOU GET SOMETHING DONE. Yes, writing is supposed to be something we love to do, but mothers will remember how sometimes kids can make you feel so unloving, yet you mother them. Same is the way with writing. You have to DO it even when you don’t love it. Kick that writer’s block by banging your head against it.
Slack off but only in very small doses. Make up in a big way. Write with love or by gritting your teeth but just write.
Which reminds me, I still have to type the scene that came to me yesterday when I was staring out of the window :p
So did you get anything out of this post? What are your secret tips on beating writer’s block. Do share!