Tuesday, February 7

Writer's Block is a Lie

The dreaded writer's block. They say everyone has suffered from it at one time or another. It seems to loom over every one of us, threatening to cut off our supply of inspiration when we are at an important point in our story. It throws us in the gutter when we most desire to be productive.

Only, it doesn't. I declare, in opposition to many, that writer's block is a lie. It is an excuse people give when they are unable to rise up against the obstacles they face in their writing, when they things no longer come easily to them and they lose their momentum.

A common notion is that when you really get into a story, it is as though it is writing itself. The characters simply show you what to do. That is all fine and dandy, and that feeling is real. However, it doesn't last. You need to take hold of the wheel, and move yourself in the direction you need the story to go.

If you come down from the cloud, you can still keep going, regardless of how you are feeling towards your writing. If it is not living up to your expectations – or you're just not as in love with it as you were before – there are always things you can do to better the situation.

1. Ask, 'What If?'

What if my character decided to join a spontaneous expedition to a new world? That could mean a new country, a new planet, or an alternate dimension.

What if there was a sudden shortage of supplies? No more food, no more weapons, no more sunscreen when the UV rays are drastically worsening.

What if Earth had no gravity? Think about how everything throughout history would be altered, and how people would function today.

2. Hoard Treasures

For times of desperation, you should have a book filled with things you love – character quirks, mythological creatures, ideas for plot twists, shades of purple, trinkets, Latin phrases.

Think of this book as an array of spices. You put all your gems inside it, and when you are looking for something to give your story an extra zing, you can bet that you will find it within that book. Just add the new ingredient and see where it takes you.

3. Work Past the Sludge

We all reach points in our writing that do not turn out as we wish they had. The problem with writer's block as a concept is not that you are stuck. It's that you are unable to contemplate how you can rework the rut into something better.

When you get to a point that just isn't working for you in your story, you have to work through it. I know that it is tempting to skip ahead to a better point, but then you have to come back to it. Until then, it looms over you, leaving you with a sense of dissatisfaction.

Regardless of whether what you write in the moment is deemed "good," make sure you write something. The biggest hurdle for people who suffer from writer's block, is that they stop writing. There is nothing wrong with writing something which you are unhappy with. You can always rework it later. The important thing is that you write something.

If you are stuck, there is a good chance that you have solidified in your mind that something must happen in a very particular way. If you allow yourself to deviate and be wacky and wild, you just might discover something important: your passion, if not a plot point. Give your self-esteem a kick-start and keep trying.

I believe writer's block is a lie, something we envision when things don't go our way. However, I am in no way the end-all on the subject. I'm just one voice and I would love to hear from others about your experiences and opinions.

Do you believe in writer's block? What do you do to encourage yourself to write instead of drowning in a pessimistic pool of procrastination?

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