Monday, May 31, 2021

Writing through the Summer

This has been a trying year for all of us. With Co-Vid changing our lives so drastically, sometimes it feels like our whole world has moved to another universe. It can be hard to write in our pretend world when the world we live in seems more like fiction than reality. And that can lead to a problem that hits all of us at one time or another as writers. Sooner or later we hit the wall with our writing and we suffer through that old , well-known, feared syndrome called “writer’s block.”  We fear it, we try to hide from it, we fight it, but more often we give in to it.

So what do you do when it hits you?  Do you fight it? Do you give in to it? Lots of people say they know when it hits them and they try to shrug it off and get back to their writing.  For others those blank, empty days of staring at the computer screen or playing games or just ignoring the latest work can start to pile up until they fear they will never write again. It's even worse when the world around is also a little different than the world we had a year and a half ago, and we are very uncertain about the future.

When writer’s block visits me, I try not to give in, but with each passing day I don’t write I find the fear that I’ll never write again. That in itself can drive me back to the keyboard to prove that I can still tell a story, whether it’s a fiction work, or just a blog on not being able to write.

Here are some ideas for coping with writer’s block:

1.      Write something – anything – this is something I usually try first. If I find myself unable to face my characters and my latest stories, then I do work on a blog or try writing a lecture for one of my writing classes.  Sometimes by doing that I find new inspiration for the fiction story I am working on. Often when teaching a writing class I find that reading over what some of those other students are doing makes me want to work on my own writing.

2     Look over old stories – this is always a good way to get something finished. By reading an old story that I started several months ago, I find myself with new ideas that I hadn’t thought of before – maybe even something that had given me writer’s block and stopped me back when I was working on this story. If there is something that was stopping me in my current story, I can just set it aside and work on those old things and maybe get something done. Usually finishing a work will propel into the next book or story. I've been doing that anyway this month as I work on edits for the sequel to my book Dead Man's Rules. I just signed a new contract with my publisher, The Wild Rose Press,  for the second book in that series so I am going back through not only the first book, but my ideas for a third book to finish off the trilogy. 

3.      Get away from your desk and try write somewhere else – a change of scenery can be like a breath of

fresh air. Sometimes just sitting at your desk every day can seem like drudge work. I am a big fan of going to a restaurant or coffee shop with a note book and writing long hand for a while. Then when I go back to my computer and transcribe the pages it spurs me on. Of course I have also been known to take my computer to a library or coffee shop to write. Sometimes the change in scenery and just getting away from the house can spur creativity.  These days that choice may be dicey, but since the weather is so nice as we head toward summer, it might be a good time to try a park, or even sitting outside in the backyard with your computer. I've often done that. Fall is best for me, but summer evenings outside or even in the shade can be great!

4.      Try a plotting brainstorming session – I love to do this with friends or a writing group. We will sit and toss story ideas around and I either jot them down or put them into the notes feature of my iphone. That way I have the ideas to refer back to later. I use this especially if I run into a knotty plotting problem that needs extra help. People love to play with story ideas when they don’t have anything invested other than offering their opinion.

5.      Have a dialogue with characters – sometimes I realize that my characters are either not fully formed or I don’t know them as well as I thought I did so they are refusing to take those next plot steps. That can lead to a dead stop to the plot. I just can get that next scene written. Often a little conversation with those characters can pull out a new idea or make  me realize just what is ailing that character. Then after a while I find myself getting back on track.

Sometimes it just takes getting away from things for a while. I will put something down and let it sit. Sooner or later those characters will start yelling and I’ll have to come back and finish their stories.  I’m never sure what stops me from writing, but I know any or all of these things can pull me back. Sooner or later that will lead to THE END getting written!

These days some of these techniques can work and can even be stress relievers as well. After all, in the world you are creating at the keyboard, YOU know what will happen. You are setting the boundaries and getting to make all those decisions. It's YOUR world and YOU are fully in charge!  

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