Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Writer's Block

So, I'm sorry this is a little late. The truth is, I had writer's block over this post and wasn't sure what to write about. That gave me an idea: let's talk about writer's block. How can a writer start creating again after running dry? I can say some of the things I do, but every writer has his or her own methods. I know of some writers who don't believe in writer's block. They're the lucky ones whose well of ideas never runs dry. But, I think, for most of us, there's a moment when we can't feel our way to the next idea.

When that happens for me, I start by going on a long walk. This helps because it gets me away from my computer and instead of focusing specifically on the part I'm writing, I can allow my mind to wander and think of the story as a whole. Sometimes I see things I've already invented (characters, subplots, antagonists, items) that could easily come back in to solve the problem. Long walks also let me free associate, which leads to ideas that straight thinking doesn't lead me to. By letting my mind wander, sometimes it stumbles on something I couldn't see when I was looking for it. It's like searching the house for your cell phone, and after you've used a friend's, finding it in the center of the kitchen table.

I also use music. I recently had some difficulty with my novel because I couldn't see how the story would end. I needed to get the plot moving in the direction of the ending, so I needed to know as soon as possible how my main character would end the story. Believe it or not, it came to me when I was listening to my iPod set on shuffle. The random selection of songs led my thoughts to grow in a way I couldn't plan, which brought together the ending I hadn't yet seen as possible. I will also build a playlist for my characters, so when I'm trying to get into that character's head and see how he will react in a situation, I listen to his list. I also have a soundtrack for the book I'm writing, with songs that set the overall tones for the character interactions, emotional feel of the story, etc. But I'm not saying what's on mine. It should be distinct for each story.

Basically, getting my mind to think in ways I haven't been is how I get over writer's block. I've heard other writers say just sitting down and freewriting is a good way to get out ideas you didn't see before, but that only works every so often for me. I guess the best rule of thumb for me is this: think about how you first came up with the idea for the story. What were you doing? How did that affect your thinking? And then, go back to that place. But then, that's the best rule of thumb for me.

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