“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.'”
Writer’s block is one of the worst things a writer can experience. It is right up there with having to kill one of your favorite characters to make the plot work, and realizing that the last ten pages, or more, of your story have to be thrown out.
Actually, now that I think about it, writer’s block is worse than both of those.
Now just in case you are unfamiliar with the term writer’s block it means that you cannot write. It is like there is a stone wall in your head between you and all the wonderful words that you would like to write, and all you can do is hit your head against that wall over and over and over again hoping that somehow that it will make a dent to let the words out.
Sometimes hitting your head against the stone wall of writer’s block can get you through, but more often it just causes headaches and frustration.
At least, that is what often happens for me. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am going to guess that this sometimes happens to you as well.
So, we need a strategy to get through this wall. There are many strategies, however, my time is short, and here I will share three of them.
The first strategy, and often the best if there’s time, is to write through it, but not to just continue to write randomly because that would mean continuing to bang your head against that stone wall. When I say write through it, I mean, that you choose a time each day and even if you do not feel like it sit down and just write. This is the one that I tend to use for better or worse, since it often means that I spend a week or so trying to break through the writer’s block. This method is often slow, rather like a siege, but from my experience it does work.
The second strategy, that I would like to share is writing down ideas about where the story should go next. This one is more about focusing on the weak points in the stone wall of writer’s block and making those weak points bigger. I find that writing down about ten ideas helps, and then working from there. The ideas do not have to be good, in fact, welcome all the ideas especially if they are not good. This is an idea that I got from Gail Carson Levine’s Writing Magic, and is very helpful if you do not have the time to write your way through the wall which at times can be like trying to dig an escape tunnel with a spoon.
The last strategy that I would like to share with you here is using a fairy tale. Now, this strategy will not work as well if you are in the middle of a story, but if you are willing to write something new this one is fun. With this one, choose a fairy tale, it can be any fairy tale from Cinderella to Puss-in-Boots to one so obscure that few, if any, of your acquaintances have read it. Read through the fairy tale and then rewrite it. You can change it as much or as little as you like. This strategy is less of a frontal attack on the stone wall of writer’s block, and more of a way to slip around the wall.
I hope that these strategies will help you, and that next time the dreaded writer’s block comes your way that you will try one of these strategies.