– I’m pleased to announce that my Flash Fiction piece, Another Oldie but Goodie, is being featured today (Friday, October 7) at Bibliophilic Blather, hosted by author Karen Wojcik Berner.
– I’m also excited to tell you that a new short piece of mine entitled I Spy, With My Little Eye was read live on The Eclectic Artist’s Cave, a radio show on Shark Radio Network. Joann Hamann Buchanan (from the EAC) hosts a Writer Wednesday (kind of like Friday Flash). The theme this week was “What’s in the round box?” I had a great time writing it. Took sort of a Pulp Fiction (without all the language) meets Hellraiser (without all the gore) approach. Hope you get a chance to go by and read it. In fact, if you’re short on time, maybe go by there first. Click here to read I Spy, With My Little Eye.
What does the future hold?
Next Friday I’ll be posting a review of the very popular YA dystopian novel being picked up by many adults as well. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Is it worth the hype? From a writer’s point of view, she has done some interesting things, but has she done enough to win me over? Check back and see.
But without further ado…
Let me start by saying that I believe there are two ideas of what “writer’s block” actually is.
The first is the more Hollywood version of writer’s block… the almost clichéd stories of young authors who had a success once but who now can’t think of anything to write.
If this is truly the case, if you don’t have any ideas on anything that you could possibly be writing, then I think you got bigger problems, and my first suggestion is to take satisfaction in your accomplishments and consider moving on to your next career endeavor. I believe that most writers have notebooks (and random scraps of paper in my case) full of ideas, scenes, characters or whatever with which they could be composing, but more on that shortly.
The other writer’s block is what I think more of us suffer from… getting started or getting unstuck. We sit down at the computer, typewriter, notebook, whatever and we just stare.
Well, this actually segues nicely into my first suggestion. If this is the case, you’re on the right track
1 – Just plant your butt in the seat. If you want to get work done, put yourself in the place where work gets done. I had a great instructor at the Maui Writer’s Conference several years ago, New York Times Best Seller Nancy Holder. Nancy was the first person to tell me this Big Truth. She said to schedule time like you would schedule everything else, but most importantly, STICK TO YOUR SCHEDULE. And find ways to reward yourself when you do.
And don’t start out with an unrealistic schedule. You may only start with 20 minutes a day, and then work your way up as you see fit.
Which brings me to my next suggestion.
2 – Don’t go over your schedule, either. Or at least not by much. I know many authors who will disagree with me on this one, but it has worked for me. Stick to your schedule. You may really be rolling with ideas, but if you keep working past your schedule until you run out of steam, you’ve left nothing for yourself to get started when you sit back down the next day… ergo, future Writer’s Block.
This is like preventative health care for writers 🙂
Give yourself time at the end of your schedule to bring things to a stopping point, write yourself some notes to jump start things tomorrow, and then reward yourself for a good day. Whether you know it or not, your mind will keep processing this story while you’re doing other things.
Which brings me to my next suggestion. Sometimes getting through an hour or two can be a real battle with our writing. We may have all of the ideas, but they’re just ramming into one another. Or you know exactly where your character needs to go, but you’re running into a barrage of obstacles getting her there. Trying to force my writing rarely works, so instead…
3- Stop working for fifteen minutes and go do something physical. For me, half of the year I can go work in our ridiculously large garden (we have water rights to prove) and the other half I can shovel snow. Whatever you need to do, stop thinking about your story and let your subconscious mind do the work for you, make the connections you aren’t able to visualize. Whatever it is– vacuuming, doing the dishes, raking the leaves– just take your focus away from your story and see if you don’t come back with some new ideas. If nothing else, the physical activity will be good for you.
But if you come back and you still got nothin’ for the next forty-five minutes of your schedule…
4- Work on something else. Anything. Create a random character. Do a profile for one of your current characters. Do a little more work on a short story you started but never finished. Or flesh out one of those fragments from one of those scraps of paper.
Any writing is productive writing. This is one of the reasons I’ve loved doing the Flash Fiction pieces so much. It’s been like mental sherbet to cleanse my mind of years of editing The Imaginings. There are plenty of places out there where you can find a variety of Flash Fiction themes (including photographs), but if you want some suggestions, let me know.
And speaking of The Imaginings and this particular suggestion, funny story. The Imaginings actually started as a short story that I thought I had finished back in 1996 and subsequently shelved. It wasn’t until I was writing another short story probably six years later that I realized I was actually writing the continuation of the earlier story, and my first novel-length idea was born.
Anyway, moving on. But wait. Still nothing? Your character is still stuck with nowhere to go and nothing to do?
5- Go back several pages and have your character make a different choice. Maybe even a few chapters if you have to. Usually writer’s block starts to form several pages before you run directly into a wall. Perhaps it was a choice your character made in the last chapter that started a chain reaction that led him/her through a coinciding series of events that has turned into a boring “Choose Your Own Adventure” story.
As writer’s we have the ability to turn back time and change the past for our characters. Sometimes if you go back and change a character’s decision (have them go left instead of right, buy that extra beer instead of going home, actually walking over to the good looking girl, whatever) you’ll see that it changes the whole game.
They’re our creations right? Half the fun is having the control. Now take it back and get back writing!
What do I want from you?
Do you have any other tips that you’d like to share? Anything that has worked for you? A testimonial to the success of using one of the techniques I’ve mentioned here?
Also, even if you’ve already read Another Oldie but Goodie, Karen features a variety of genres for her chosen Friday Flash stories of the week, so I hope you’ll go to her site when you get a chance (but just so you know, October is Halloween-themed). Click here for Bibliophilic Blather.
Finally, for the schedule for The Shark Radio Network (including The Eclectic Artist’s Cave), click here. You can also live stream the station there.
And don’t forget to check back next Friday for my review of The Hunger Games.
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