Tag Archives: writers block

Writer’s Block: Part 2

This is my second in a series of posts in which I hope to lay down some thoughts and tips on overcoming writers block. You can view part one by clicking here. Don’t think that because I’m writing on how you can overcome writers block that it doesn’t affect me. It is a battle that not only authors have to fight, but students and anyone else who writes on a regular basis. I struggle with it at least a few times a week in my writing.

You know those days when the words just flow so freely from your keyboard that you can hardly type fast enough?  It’s the dream scenario for those who love to write. It’s like catching every green light in town on your way to the store. You just keep going. Nothing can stop you. I’ve churned out 20 pages before on such days.

Then, there are those days when you sit down at your desk, knowing you need to write, even knowing what you need to write, but you can’t find the words. It’s like there is a mental block. You begin to wonder if you have digressed back to the third grade. This isn’t how it is suppose to be. You are a writer! You’ve done this before. The words should come freely. Nonetheless, you just don’t know what to put down on paper. Everything you start writing seems stupid and senseless. You delete that first sentence you took ten minutes to cook up and start all over. Writers block.

Tip #3: Write something else. If you can’t find the words you need on one writing project, work on another. Once you have your creative juices flowing it will be easier to go back and get something going on that first project. I’ve tried this many times and it seems to work.

Tip #4: Realize nothing is going to be perfect! This is huge. I’m such a perfectionist, especially when it comes to writing. Every word has to be perfect. Some days I become consumed with this mentality and spend almost an hour on just a few paragraphs. A few hours on the opening paragraphs of a story is one thing. What I’m talking about is excessive. Sometimes we think too hard about things. If you can remind yourself your project will not be perfect (especially the first draft) you may find yourself able to continue. Don’t sit and wait for words from above… write.

When it comes to “perfection”, remember: “The greatest achievement is to outperform yourself.” – Denis Waitley

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Impromptu vs. Outlining

What kind of writer are you? Do you write going from scene to scene, making it up as you go and not really knowing what happens next? Or are you the type of writer who plans everything out?

I like to call my style of writing “impromptu”. I don’t know how legit of a name that is, but it is what I like to use. Basically, I dive into all my stories knowing very little about where they are going. Yes, I have images and scenes in my head I want to implement into the story, but oftentimes they are the epic scenes of the climax, near the end of the story.

For example, most people are familiar with the story The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. If you know the storyline, imagine sitting down to begin those books with only a few things decided. You have developed the idea of The One Ring, the Dark Lord, and your world in general. You have hobbits, dwarves, elves, orcs, men, and have even cooked up some of Middles Earth’s history in your mind. Knowing you want to start the book in the Shire with one of your main characters, Frodo, you sit down and begin writing. You might have epic mental images of a fight underground with a massive beast of fire (The Mines of Moria, The Balrog), and of a vast swamp full of dead people (The Dead Marshes), but you really have no guidelines or plan. It’s all just scenes with no names. You have no idea how you are going to get there.

As you write, you create new and unexpected characters and throw them into the fray. Your imagination is the limit as you invent your story. It goes where it wills and in retrospect you realize you unconciously took one road out of hundreds. The story, as you write it, could go this way or that way, and ultimately you choose a path and dozens more paths open up. The story grows and grows. Slowly, everything starts falling into place and the skeleton begins to fill out, forming a solid body of work. Before your eyes lays an evolution of literature that had no plan, no sense of direction until it finally evolved to encompass all those grand images you began with.

I start my stories with just a few images and scenes to inspire me. The hard part is creating the scenes in-between that connect the dots and to do it in a way that makes sense. However, impromptu writing is a sure recipe for breeding writer’s block. When you make up everything as you go you will find that some days you just don’t know how to direct your story. Your characters begin to scream back at you “this is stupid! Turn us around and start over!”

What do you think? How do you approach stories? Which style do you think is best? Personally, I love the evolution of impromptu writing but know an outlined story is worth the time it takes to make one. Maybe someday I will actually outline a story before I write it. For now, the story I am editing continues to evolve, just as it has since the first day.

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Listen and Write!

Writing to music. It’s like writing on steroids, for me.

This is one of the best things for writers, I believe. People talk about situation and atmosphere in writing and how it can effect your tone and levels of inspiration. Having a good situation and inspirational atmosphere help immensely. Music is perhaps one of the art forms that inspires and affects the human soul the most.

I love music. A lot. Most people do. I particularly enjoy trance and techno but find movie soundtracks inspirational in writing as well. I listen to music during most of my writing periods. It just helps the words flow. If I’m writing a battle scene, I listen to intense music. If I’m writing a scene about the natural beauty of the world, I listen to serene music. If I’m writing an epic description of something, I listen to epic music.

If I can’t seem to find the words for what I want to say, I change the song. Suddenly new images flash into my imagination and the words begin to come. As the music moves me, I begin to write, hoping to move my reader in the same manner.

Music and words have a lot in common. Music provokes thoughts and images. I hope to use the music of my words to provoke thoughts and images as well. It’s like a dance. It’s like poetry. Poetry is word music. It’s lyrical. Novels aren’t so poetic, but they can be as inspiring and moving as any great song if done correctly. This is an aim of mine: to move people with my words as much as the greatest songs of all time have done. Knowing the power of music, if I can do that, my writing will be successful.

Listen and write!

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Writer’s Block: Part 1

This is my first in a series of posts in which I hope to lay down some thoughts and tips on overcoming writers block. Don’t think that because I’m writing on how you can overcome writers block that it doesn’t affect me. It is a battle that not only authors have to fight, but students and anyone else who writes on a regular basis. I struggle with it at least a few times a week in my writing.

You know those days when the words just flow so freely from your keyboard that you can hardly type fast enough?  It’s the dream scenario for those who love to write. It’s like catching every green light in town on your way to the store. You just keep going. Nothing can stop you. I’ve churned out 20 pages before on such days.

Then, there are those days when you sit down at your desk, knowing you need to write, even knowing what you need to write, but you can’t find the words. It’s like there is a mental block. You begin to wonder if you have digressed back to the third grade. This isn’t how it is suppose to be. You are a writer! You’ve done this before. The words should come freely. Nonetheless, you just don’t know what to put down on paper. Everything you start writing seems stupid and senseless. You delete that first sentence you took ten minutes to cook up and start all over. Writers block.

In this post I will share two things that help me overcome writers block. In the future, I hope to add additional tips that have aided me as I solidify them. Hence the post title “Writer’s block: Part 1”.

Tip #1: Skip ahead. This is okay to do. I use to hate the notion and tried to discinpline myself to grind out the words. Sometimes, it works. You grind it out, and the words begin to flow. This, however, rarely happens (to me at least) and I found that skipping head can be one of the best things for overcoming writers block.

Unless you are writing something extremely short, skipping ahead is a viable option for almost any writing project. Whether you are writing a novel, a short story, a poem, a letter, or an essay for school, you almost always can skip ahead. If you don’t know what to write in a certain scene/point/idea/paragraph, don’t sit there and stare at your screen, hoping the words will come. Write ahead. And then when you go back to fill in the gap, it suddenly becomes like connecting the dots. It is easier.

Tip #2: Change your writing situation. Sometimes, overcoming writers block can be as simple as changing your situation. Altering the atmosphere in which you are trying to write can spring the words you’ve been searching for. If you’ve been working at your desk for the most of the week and suddenly find no inspiration to write, move yourself. Head to the living room, to a friends house, or the library. Go to a place where you know you will be inspired. Go to a place that will help you. If you are writing a poem about nature, maybe head for the yard? If you are writing scene’s for a novel, maybe you will find inspiration at a library? It has worked for me countless times. Maybe it will for you?

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