So here we are again at the second installment of Patti Larsen’s blog-hop. The topic this month has been suggested by me so you can guess this is a subject of some importance to me- a problem that bugs me frequently, making me devise various schemes to counter it. It comes in various shapes- phases of severe idea-drought, a complete lack of the will to write which sometimes culminates into a fear of the writing act (is there a name for this phobia?), the feeling that nothing I write is good enough and therefore pointless…no matter what it is- there are periods when even the most prolific of us have difficulty in carrying out the one activity that means so much to us. My idea behind suggesting this topic was that by having all of us share our opinions and experiences, we may be able to help this out, and I’ll begin by listing out some of the things that I have tried myself with some degree of success. So here we go:
1.Take a walk. I do it in the evenings, on the roof of my house where I can enjoy a little seclusion and even talk to myself without anyone feeling the impulse to call the psychiatrist. You can change the place and time to whatever suits you.
2.Morning Papers- Everybody knows about it, of course, and when done seriously and regularly, it does help one to come up with new ideas. For me, it’s not strictly morning papers, though- or put in another way, morning is twenty minutes before I start the writing proper at any time of the day! It’s all about just jotting down whatever comes to mind, no worries about spelling, grammar, caps or quality because no one else is going to read it - I find the use of the ‘stream of consciousness’ method an extremely freeing exercise.
3.Change your equipment, timings, location. I used to write fanfiction a few years back- and I usually wrote my chapters in a paper notebook first, and then type out the 2nd draft on my PC. Whenever I got stuck in the first draft however, I would abandon the pen and paper and come straight to the keyboard. And it did work most of the time. Similarly, a change of the room where you write or the hour at which you write may help in some cases.
4.Take a short break from your WIP and write something else- a different genre may be. Flash fiction is an excellent idea, it is short enough so you can come back to your original project, there are sites that offer flash writing prompts, and tweeting about #FridayFlash usually gets you lovely comments that would make anyone want to write again!
5.Re-start. Forget what you’ve written so far and make another beginning. Or write another part of the story and connect the dots later. That’s how I managed to finish The Maneater, my entry for Lisa M Stull’s horror story contest.
6.Read your story to yourself. Tell it to a friend and ask for suggestions. You may come up with something yourself during the discussion.
7.Write about the stumbling block in your WIP before you go to sleep at night. You may wake up with a solution.
8.Plug off the internet, or at least block facebook and twitter and whatever site you’re addicted to (I’m addicted to mugglenet, for instance). And yes, please don’t say practice what you preach to my face.
9.Indulge in your other passions and hobbies- singing, gardening, dancing…whatever it is. The plot for my first ever Friday Flash came to me while I was practicing for my Indian Classical Music class.
10.Describe things, places, people and smells. Could be anything from the sunset to an anthill to your favourite lipstick. It keeps you writing, and you never know- one of these paragraphs may end up in a bestseller someday.
11.Meditation, yoga, fitness classes- I do not know this yet- I’ve heard they help you concentrate. I’m planning to start this month.
12. Give yourself a deadline- or give yourself short goals- like writing for ten minutes, or writing a page, and then carry on from there. Again, this is a method I used for The Maneater, forcing myself to put word after word, sentence after sentence, on to the next line. When it was finally over I was so exhausted I could not bear to read the finished draft for two days.
So that makes twelve. And here’s the half bit:
When nothing works and you can think of nothing to write about, you can write a blog-post about Writer’s Block.:P
And although this writer here presents a hilariously bleak view of dealing with the problem, just listen to Mr.Wilde up there and keep fighting. We love to write, so we will, right?
Finally, links. Here’s another list of How To’s – perhaps you may find it helpful. And yet another blogger has shared a few tips on writing and the pros and cons of every method.