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Novelist's Angst

Updated on January 22, 2015
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There are many joys in writing. That fact is known to most. Writing is an escape, an expression, and - often - therapy (What to do about that co-worker/human obstruction of your personal happiness? Fictional murder is gloriously legal).

However, anyone who puts a pen to paper knows that there are a considerable amount of struggles in the day to day life of a writer. Thankfully, there are solutions for such matters.

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Problem 1 - Writer's Block

Yes. You have heard of it and you probably saw it coming. Duh. Every writer, poet, blogger and screenwriter has come across this little sucker/huge monster depending on how you look at it.

You sit down to write. Maybe this is the first chance you've gotten to actually focus on your story for a while, mug of freshly brewed coffee in hand. This should go well and be a very satisfying few hours, right?

Forty minutes later, shards of a shattered mug are strewn across the floor and there's a hole in your computer screen nearly as big as the one in your soul.

It's ok. We've all been there before.

So... what now?

The solution is this: writer's block doesn't exist, so you don't need to worry about it.

What?

Yep. You read right. It's completely made-up. There is no wall blocking you right now. This is what you need to do:

1. Take a break.

Pick up your tear-stained sheets of scribbled-upon papers and brush yourself a pathway through the broken pottery and out of the room. Walk around a park. Call up a friend for a chat. Go see a movie. Watch Netflix. Spend time on another hobby. Chill out. You will be able to think better after a much needed respite.

2. Just write.

Words don't need to flow eloquently from your brain in order to get some ish done. So get some ish done! If you can't think of anything to add to the story's plot, develop your characters, locations, or background a little bit more. If you can't think of anything to add to those, Google up some writing prompts. In focusing on something that may seem off-topic or overly detailed, you will more than likely hit a spark of an idea. Once you have it, kindle that little motherhugger into a fire.

3. Consider changing nearly everything.

If it's a seriously messed-up situation, scrap it. Not necessarily all of it, but loosen up your mind and come close to starting from scratch. It's ok. Don't pull your hair out. You've learned so much just from what you've already accomplished. You know a little more about what you want, and what you don't. Be brave enough to begin again.

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Problem 2 - Fear of Judgement

Some have this one a little worse than others. But it makes sense! You just poured your heart into the form of words and precariously stuck them in a (sometimes) well thought-out manner. People who don't write don't understand this.

You want to be critiqued, but what if people think you're strange? You could have less skill than you think. That would be sad, considering your own assessment of your writing. What if it just doesn't touch your readers? That would be a fail.

This fear is just something you'll have to face. Get accustomed to brutal 'opinions' from villainous persons. Try not to have a knee-jerk reaction to any slightly harsh critique of your work. I understand. It's hard not to be bitter. So at least don't go hoisting your critic over your shoulder to be immediately harassed and disposed of. It's considered unethical in most cultures.

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Problem 3 - Lack of Control

This is your book. Your story. Who's in control?

Not you, love. Not you.

Characters act up (yes, they actually do that). The voices in your head start changing. Your inspiration has gone haywire.

How about another book? What about the sequel? I'd love for this story to have a happy ending, but the main character currently has an insanely unrecoverable emotional wound as well as a knife in his back. Who did that? Pshh. Wasn't me. I just wrote about it.

It's not only your story that looses control, but also your life.

It's five o'clock already? But the joyous flow of inspiration has not run dry yet! The muses are singing to me! All of them! All at once!

Yes dear friend of mine, this tragedy must be awful for you to go through. I wish I had the mental capacity to console you, but I'm too busy figuring out how to incorporate this in my novel. Bar your waterfall of tears, my notes are smudging.

Hello Mother. You are asking me why I am monologuing whilst wielding a fork and a letter opener as my weaponry? Research. Trust me, this is educational and completely necessary.

Despite all of these things, being a writer is an amazing pursuit. And you know it. Much luck to you in all your endeavors!

P.S. In case you were wondering, there is no solution for that last issue. You are a writer. you are going to be crazy. Channel the weird. Just embrace it.

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