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Breaking Down Writer's Block
I’m a girl who’s got something to say about everything. So when I find myself with nothing to write about, I become skeptical. I have so many things to write about, expose and rant about or just to get out of my system and yet I just don’t. As someone striving to be a writer, this is frustrating because if I can’t get anything out now when there’s nothing like grades and deadlines riding on a piece, how do I expect to succeed in the future.
Instead of sitting here, defeated by the ultimate writer’s block I decided to examine things in terms of writers and their inspiration and motivation. In doing so, I came up with two sides; those who are doing things right and those who are going about writing wrong. Along my investigation, I also found lists upon lists of useful tips and remedies for crippling writers block that I wish to share with my fellow wannabe writers.
The Wrong Inspiration
I’ve come across a lot of writers who write because they think it’s easy. Taking this route, to them, means quick fame and monetary reward. This is far from the case. Those who write for selfish reasons, like to make a quick buck or be a household name seldom succeed. The industry is full of let downs and requires hard, dedicated, passionate work to keep it alive. Those who do not possess the true skills and qualities listed above tend to fizzle out because writing in not the quick fix they thought it would be.
Publishing books seems to also be the next step for the majority of celebrities. It isn’t enough that we are bombarded with their lives on television, in newspapers and other less credible publications. We read about their daily lives in the check out of groceries stores and we buy their overpriced products, such as cooking tools or clothes. The next logical marketing step is to publish your own tell all. Now, I do understand that most of the time these celebrities aren’t penning their own stories and I’m sorry to burst that bubble. But publishing a book to extend your brand and image across all form of media and merchandise as humanly possible is not helping the literary world.
Basically the conclusion I can make from this sections is simple: if you don’t have an interesting story to tell that has no ulterior motives, go green and save some trees.
The Worst Thing You Can Do
If you’re like me and tend to only write when feeling that spark of inspiration STOP. This will never get ahead with your writing. For one, the sitting around waiting for that creative lightning to strike is wasting valuable time. To only write during those times of heightened…whatever it is that motivates you is not going to get you published.
Saying this pains me because I have the remedy and yet I don’t use it. But don’t tell my professors that because they think I’ve got notebooks upon notebooks of my daily free writing.
So basically what you need to do to get those creative gears turning and keep them turning is simple: write everyday. It doesn’t have to be profound. You just have to condition yourself to get words down on paper (virtual or physical is up to you). It also helps to write at the same time every day. This way your body knows that at 8 AM or 10:36 PM you’re going to sit down and write.
Set a goal for yourself. Whether that goal is a time limit or a page limit is up to you. But every day you need to get out your three pages or write for that hour straight.
What you write may not seem useful or relevant now but it could be the source of inspiration down the line. You might come up with a brilliant idea and remember you wrote something, a scene or character that would work perfectly. Reread these pages when you feel stuck in a project because the missing piece could be within these pages you’ve buried away.
So I mentioned writing at the same time everyday. That is easier said than done for most of us because there are so many distractions. A. Victoria Mixon lends tips to writers on her website victoriamixon.com. She has mapped out “9 Ways to Find the Time to Write”. Though there are nine in total, here are a few I found most helpful.
The first is logical: unhook. You might literally need to disconnect yourself from the Internet if you are someone who types on your computer. For those who prefer long hand, make sure the television is off, the radio muted and your cellphone, video games or computer are out of you reach. It should just be you and the paper.
Another is creative: doodle a name. She suggests you pick up your pen and doodle your protagonist’s name over and over just like you would your own when you’re bored. The more you doodle it, the more you think about it, the more you connect yourself with their personality.
Another is something I’m an expert at: zonk out. Go take a nap if you can’t find that peace in your writing space whether it’s other people or just the noise in your head that’s clouding you up. You might end up dreaming about your story but more likely, you’ll be fueled to stay up later to work londer.
The last one that stuck out to me is a little more extreme: disappear for a week up a river or a mountain, break a leg, and get snowed in. Sometimes as a writer, you just need to get away. A change of scenery can stir up that smoldering inspiration or it can completely clear your head. Merely escape the monotony of your daily routine.
The full list and more advice from A. Victoria Mixon can be found at www.victoriamixon.com/advice .
This set of tips comes from writetodone.com. The site has a plethora of articles on writing but one that spoke to me was “How to Finish What You Start: A Five-Step Plan for Writers”. In this posting it lists these five easy steps.
Step #1: Stop Starting New Projects
This was the more logical for me. I mean what really gets in the way of your current projects. For me the natural progression is crazy inspiration followed by writer’s block ending up with a new crazy inspired idea that takes my mind off my present failure.
Step #2: Assess Your Current Projects
This is where you make a list of your projects and ultimately decide which ones are worth saving and which ones to pull the plug on. The longer you hang onto these things that are ultimately holding your creativity back the longer you’re going to have unfinished projects.
Step #3: Choose One Project to Focus On
You need focus. You need to channel your energy into one thing because obviously, what you were doing before wasn’t working and now you have lists of unfinished projects.
But don’t set yourself up to fail. Start small. Take the shortest piece and finish that. Work your way down the list until you’ve conquered any and all projects ranging from short stories, blog posts all the way to novels.
Step #4: Decide What “Finished” Will Look Like
You need to set that goal or end point for each piece because if you’re like me, there’s always room for some improvement and something more. With that mentality things will never be finished. Finished and polished are two different things really. Polishing can come later but having that piece of mind that you have a completed piece with a solid beginning, middle and end is what you should initially strive towards.
Step #5: Set Some Milestones (And Start Hitting Them)
Make your own deadlines. Remember that they have to be realistic. You’re not going to finish a novel in a day but you could set yourself on writing a chapter a week. The key is to not burn yourself out while staying active and motivated. The milestones are more of a guide or checkpoints to keep you on track rather than tying you to constraining deadlines.
Want more like this? Check out www.writetodone.com now.
I could go on forever with all of the tricks and tips I have stumbled upon (literally, at www.stumbleupon.com) but I can’t shove information down your throats. I’m also not selfish so I will keep sharing sites and tips as they come up in the future. Though what I’ve written above is interesting for me, the longer this goes the faster I’m turning you off to writing in general and that is not my goal. I hope you take the advice and at least consider it because we need more conscious contributors out there. The more we know the better the literary world will be whether your form is blog, poetry, short stories or non-fiction.