Thursday, February 16, 2012

Writer's block

It's a cliché, really. And one should never subject oneself, or others, to clichés. So kill it! Quick!

I reckon 'writer's block' happens for a few reasons:

Perfectionism: You're so worried about getting every word exactly right that you don't put anything down on the page, or at least all the words that do manage to fall from your pen/keyboard are immediately destroyed with scribbled lines or the backspace key. Solution: freewrite in a separate document or book, and don't worry about what's coming out. Don't worry about spelling or grammar. Just do it. Or try writing in a different medium - some people find they don't worry so much if they use pen and paper as opposed to typing.

Plot knot: you've tied yourself into a knot you don't know how to get out of. Solution: go for a walk. Take a break. Then draw pictures or diagrams or think about things from different characters' points of view or go back and figure out what choices led to this point and how the choices might be made differently. Think of all the different options at the current knot, and cross off the ones that don't work. Keep writing at a different point in the story and come back to it. Often you find things click into place eventually.

Writing from the wrong direction: I had this yesterday, where I was plodding along very slowly and coming up with not much. Solution: I changed tack, from past tense telling to present tense showing (I'd been trying to communicate lots of information quickly, but what's the use in that if the writing's dead?). Much better. If your writing's going slow, think about the scene from a different angle. What are all the different ways you could show it? All the different points of view through which you can see it? Which is the best for this scene?

Any other reasons for writer's block that you can think of? Any more solutions?

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