Thursday, September 2, 2010

Myth Busters #1: Hitting the Writer's Block Wall

Deep breath...

Just breathe...



We dread it. We fear it. We can see  it looming on the distant horizon. We blink. It is still there. We turn around and run.... and find it was behind us all along, just waiting to sneak up on us and POUNCE!

Writer's block is a very real, very tangible fear in writers. Ideas are stymied, words won't flow and our characters are off in Never, Never Land completely ignoring our pleas to, please, please, please don't leave us!

Hitting the Writer's Block Wall is my first installment in a month long series entitled: Myth Busters and there is a reason I am calling writer's block a myth.

Yes, it is a very real thing. It does sneak up on us and it does render us incapable of continuing our writing for a time, but I propose that there is a way to beat it. Run it into the ground and then dance on its grave. Because writer's block is merely an excuse for the writer when the bucket is scraping the bottom of the nearly dry well. So how do you avoid such a catastrophe?

Top 5 Avoiding Writer's Block Tips
1: Know your characters and where you want to take your story
2: No matter what, keep writing! Never stop no matter how much you want to
3: When you feel it coming on, pick up a book on writing and read
4: Keep your favorite novel handy and continue to feed the ideas growing in your mind
5: Pray for words, pray for determination

Knowing your story and the reason behind why you are writing it will go a long way in avoiding writer's block. I will admit I was worried I was going to hit that wall when I was writing my last story. But I knew where I wanted to go. I knew my characters and the arc they needed to travel to get to the end result. And in knowing that, I also knew what they needed to go through. Many things changed along the way, but I always had an end result in mind. When writing, continue to think about your end and the best way to get there while completely thrilling your reader. Start each day with an idea of where you want to take your story and expand upon it as you write. That is the sure fire way to make sure you never hit the writer's block wall.

Never. Stop. Writing. Let me say that again. Never. Stop. Writing.

When you stop writing, it only compounds that you will never be able to move past the writer's block wall. It will continue to loom there until you decide to scale it and the longer it sits there and the longer you sit there looking at it, the taller it will become and the harder it will be to climb over. Don't deceive yourself, taking a break will not ultimately help with the story. Write another 100 words, even if they don't make sense and then close the program. Continue to think about your story and go back and write again. Go write a letter, an email or a blog post, do something with words so it keeps your mind working. Don't let it rest during this temptation to give into writer's block.

 3 and 4 pretty much go hand in hand, but each one feeds a different need in your brain. The workbook continues to push your creativity level and the novel reminds you why you are writing, because you love to create and love to read. Much of writer's block comes from burnt out brains, so don't let your mind become fatigued, instead give it new fodder to consume by reading a page or two in your current novel and a paragraph or more in your current reference book.  Take a few breaks during your writing, move around, stretch, stop before your brain dies to avoid being overly taxed the next day. This will be a wonderful and huge preventative move against writer's block.

Number 5 is really the most important one of all and don't think I don't believe so when I made it last. Prayer for each writing day will take your writing a huge step forward. Pray for inspiration and the words that God wants you to write that day. And dive into your writing believing that it is possible to write a book and believing that God will give you all the inspiration you need.

The long and short of it is: writer's block is just a lie that the writer believes when they can't think of anywhere else to go. It is an excuse, a reason to quit. That niggling voice of doubt that is always reminding you that you can't do it. Believing that voice, listening to that voice only eats away at the time and energy you need to be storing up to write, so don't believe it. Refute it. And stand strong, remembering that writer's block is just as I said earlier, a myth.

So, your turn. Have you had writer's block? Fear it? Conquered it? Do tell.


Beth K. Vogt said...

I love practical posts with lots of takeaway value--and this is one, Casey. Thanks!
One of the ways I get through writer's block is by brainstorming my way through it with my critique partners. Their ideas are often the catalyst to jumpstart my creativity again.

Ralene said...

Great post, Casey. I've suffered from writer's block before, so I def appreciate the practical advice.

Casey said...

Beth, critique partners are great! I have heard Susan May Warren refer to doing that with her partner Rachel Hauck. But since I don't have any at the moment, I had to come up with some suggestions that would work for those that don't have that help. :) Glad you liked the post!

Casey said...

Ralene, writer's block can be conquered. It is just a matter of wanting to conquer it and taking the steps to avoid it at the very start. I am glad the post was useful. Happy writing! :)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Thanks Casey, Sometimes we just need someone to tell us to buck up..move CAN do this. You're our cheerleader :)

Casey said...

*grin*, Thanks Mary, you are mine. In a BIG way. :)