Thursday, December 8, 2011

Punching Writer's Block in Its Strange Blank Face

You sit down to write. You open your Word document. Your fingers are poised over the keys. You reread the last few lines you wrote. You reread the last page you wrote. You reread the last chapter or so you wrote, then wonder if anyone Liked your last status with the obscure lyrics so you log onto Facebook. One of your friends posted a Cracked article, so of course you have to read that, which piques your curiosity so you glide on over to Wikipedia, and then you accidentally click on your Word document again and remember, Oh yeah. Writing. That thing.


I've been there. No matter how much you love writing, sometimes you just don't feel motivated. I find that I write best when I'm really into what I'm writing, and you can't flip that on. But you can try a few tricks to get you in the mood. In my experience, here are some ways that have worked pretty well for me:

1) Draw your characters.

Even if you can't draw. I'm not a great artist but I love to draw my characters while listening to music. Usually I draw scenes that will never happen. My characters vary greatly from drawing to drawing, but it helps me picture them more like real people. I design their outfits, I try out hairstyles, I give them different expressions depending on who they're interacting with. Sometimes I find pictures I like and copy them, but put my characters in place of the people in the picture. Sometimes I like the scene so much that I find a way to work it into my novel. In fact, I created this logo for the organization in my novel. I'm not even sure if it appears in the novel. For fellow visual learners, I recommend giving this a try.

Making up comics is fun, too. Has anyone read Death Note? It's a manga, so already pretty visual-- but some humorous comics (which is odd; Death Note is more of a drama) using Death Note characters appeared a few times in a Japanese magazine. Though I wouldn't call that "canon" material, it was still fun to see these characters in a different setting, and to watch short snippets of their life that were unrelated to the main action.

2) Write a scene between characters that will never appear in your novel.

My very first NaNoWriMo novel started off with the suspected suicide note of a beloved man. When I went back to make edits, I felt like I'd lost touch of the dynamic between a woman and him. But he was dead. So I went back and wrote a scene between them-- their final meeting before he died. Then I deleted the scene. If I kept it, it would be too concrete, too much like a definite piece of the puzzle. All I needed was that feeling between them, and I got that.

3) Create a soundtrack for your novel.

I get really inspired by music; often I'll just close my eyes and listen to the radio. Whatever song comes up, I try to imagine what character would be most likely to sing that song and imagine that character singing the song. It might sound funny, but it totally helps. You can also try a variation of this. Imagine your novel is a movie-- would songs could underscore the scenes? If your novel were a musical and you could choose any songs to be the songs in it, what would they be?

4) Create a new character.

This is a little more drastic because it actually affects the rest of your novel, but it really helped me once. I had debated whether or not to include a mysterious, peculiar man, because I wasn't sure if he was necessary to the plot. Turns out, he was instrumental.

5) Read advice on writing.

Everytime I do this, I immediately apply everything the author says to my writing, and it makes me want to edit like crazy. Also, I love this book:

It's broken down into different sections based on what the advice is concerning. I often just flip to a random page because it's good through-and-through.

6) Write by hand. 

The first draft of my main WIP was entirely written by hand. I love this process. When you type it up, then you can edit along the way. Notebooks are really portable, too, and more subtle than computers or tablets. I also find that when you write by hand, since it takes longer than typing, you really become enveloped in that scene because each sentence is like a thick brush stroke.

7) Fill out a character sheet. 

I got mine from a writing group (and made a gazillion copies- one for each character ever), but there are probably some pretty great ones online. Or you could make your own. Ask all sorts of questions. These could include but aren't limited to: age, family, favorite food, least favorite food, preferred music genre, best quality, worst quality, dream job, wildest fantasy, pets, pet peeves, favorite book-- and anything else you can imagine. You'll know your characters are well developed if you can answer ANY question about them. Put them in different crazy situations in your head and figure out how they'd react. Imagine they're standing--or sitting, or leaning, or dancing-- in front of you and have a conversation with them. It'll be a bonding experience. :]

How do YOU fight Writer's Block? Have you also tried some of those methods? If you decide to try them after reading this post, please let me know if they work for you!

{ I'm listening to "E.T." right now... many-a-time did I visualize my sci-fi novel in front of this song. ;) }

1 comment:

  1. hmm. usually my writer's block tells me something isn't working in my story, so I spend some time away from my WIP wondering what it is. other times, when I want to write but it's just going so sloooow, I'll take a few minutes to really visualize what's supposed to be happening and jot it down like a step-by-step process. I'll listen to a lot of music. I'll look through a lot of pretty pictures. I'll read! I've drawn before as well, but I've never written by hand. way too time consuming for me :|