Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Creative Writing 101: Writer's Block aka The Big Dead End

Imagine, you’re walking down the road minding your own business, clutching your ‘to-do list’ like the map to buried treasure. The sun is out, the birds are singing, it’s not one of those dreams where you’ve forgotten to wear trousers, everyone is smiling and waving at you...there’s not a cloud in the sky. It’s hot enough that you quite fancy yourself an ice cream. Then-


You get run over by a stolen ice cream truck.

Ironically, you got your ice cream.

Welcome to lesson numero deux on creative writing. Today we’re going to talk about Writer’s Block (no, not ice cream – that was just me being a smart ass).

Writer’s block is like that though. It strikes when you least expect it, and it can be hard to beat. I’ve used the above introduction to try and show you something. Basically, when everything seems to be going write, even when you have it all planned out...writers block can elbow its way into your head.

Everyone has different ways of countering writers block, but here’s some of mine:

Get Outside
You heard me. Get outside. Sure, we’re writers, stereotyped to dark corners and mother’s basements. Quiet places where we can get into our own heads. Now, I don’t know about you, but getting outside can clear your head pretty quickly (if it’s windy it might even blow a bit of fresh air between your ears!). Everything can seem so much easier after a walk :D

Yes, that’s right, you heard me. I’m lucky that my job requires me to maintain a decent level of fitness and that I am allocated said time to do so. It’s amazing how an hour in the gym can burn off the stress of writers block.

Mind Map
Write it all down. EVERYTHING. Get it out of your head when you can forget having to think about it and refer back to it on paper, later.

Read - Research
Read everything. I mean it. Read everything in sight. The newspaper is good, particularly if you read something you have heard of before. It’ll get the gears going in your head, get you thinking. Don’t just read YOUR genre, reads others too. And big thing – read your idols. Remind yourself who you want to write like (that is, if you want to write like someone else).

Research is another tag I’ve added to reading, as this is how I view it (it’s a matter of opinion). I’m a big history fan, particularly Roman, Persian, Nordic and Celtic. Research any given topic, you never know, you might end up using it!

Watch - Listen
As with reading the same can be said for both watching and listening. It’s the ability to take something away from a program, a film, an advert, a song, an audio book – different receptors pick up different things. Listening is a big one, as in my eyes, you can write something a thousand different ways dependant on what background noise you have, though I’ll talk about this at another time in my blog.

Change Story / Scene / Genre
Jump a chapter ahead, go back and edit (be careful of this second one! Don’t get sucked in!), go to a different story in the same ‘world’ (if you have one – for example I have several books concept’ed for different times in my fantasy world).

Change in genre is a little different. Primarily, at the moment, my focus is heroic-fantasy. I do however dabble in horror, sci-fi, crime, romance, thriller and yes, shame though I admit it, ‘adult’ stories (the girlfriend never seems to complain about this one – I guess it’s like having your own personal ’50 Shades of Grey’ on tap? Babe, if you’re reading this, the secret is out. Oh, and I know you have probably shared a story or two at work. THE CHEEK OF IT!).

Similar to mind map, but the idea here is to plan something that you want to write. It’ll give you a goal to aim for, a juicy chapter that you can’t wait to knock out!

Seriously, just write. Put pen to paper, finger to key (giggidy). Get on with it. Not every day is going to be a good writer day. Nor will every week or month. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and your story won’t be written in a year if you don’t start somewhere. After all, you can always come back and edit later...or even delete and re-start if you’re really brave.

Now, what’s your excuse for not giving it a shot even when you have writer’s block?


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