Tag Archives: writers’ block

Fighting writer’s block

Oh the dreaded writer’s block. Just the word “block” itself is enough to make any writer cringe – like saying the word ‘castration’ to any human male. It’s physically painful, mentally stressful and emotionally draining.

And it happens when you know you have something brilliant brewing inside you. You can feel it churning and hear its silent screams of agony pleading with your brain to get out of the way so it can take over control of your fingers and guide them to a perfect, eloquent expression that will alter existence as we know it. But there are simply too many luscious words to choose from and your brain is overwhelmed by the possibility.

Well, I say, “Block, be damned!” Instead of fighting you, I will embrace you. Instead of fearing you, I will call to you and dare you to enter my being. For I am writer. Hear me roar (figuratively in your face using my onslaught of carefully chosen words and cunning turns of phrase.)

And how will I do that, you may ask? How do I dare speak so boldly to the invisible one who appears without sign or warning? How will I fight an immortal foe who has plagued every writer in history of writers? How will I conjure such brilliance in the presence of one who appears all powerful?

With the element of surprise, that’s how. I will take the unexpected road. I will diverge from my usual routine. I will break the walls around me and step outside my comfort zone. I will release my secure blankey of the known and explore unchartered territory. Simply put, I will try something new.

And how do I know it will work? How can I speak with such confidence? Well, just think of those times when you can’t for the life of you remember someone’s name, or the name of that damn song, or that friggin’ actor from that friggin’ movie. Your forehead strains. Your mind hurts as you beg in vain for the name to appear on your tongue. And when it doesn’t come, what do you do? You walk away. You let it go and move on, until a time when you are completely immersed in something else, or just about to fall asleep, and the name uncontrollably – with a volume that startles even you – blurts from your lips.

That’s what writers need to do too. Lose the block by becoming immersed in something else, in something that takes you outside of your usual approach to writing – like writing in a different style; writing about a subject that is foreign to you; writing a different genre. It will help you let go of the stress you have built up and explore a new path if only for a little while. You might even surprise yourself by finding something new you are good at, or at the very least, breathe new life into your current composition.

Here are some ideas. Pick one and let it surprise you with what you may discover about yourself:

5 ideas to step outside your writing comfort zone

  1. If you’re not a poet, write a poem. If you are a poet, give yourself a challenge to write a completely different style of poetry.
  2. Open a book to a random page and make the opening line of your new piece the sentence your finger touches. Or write one based on a random tweet. Lots of great material there. (This one is thanks to @thegrahammilne.)
  3. Write about a first experience (e.g., first sexual experience – these are usually juicy with awkwardness)
  4. Write the opposite of what you usually do (e.g., write a fictional story vs a non-fiction essay)
  5. Set the timer for 30 minutes and don’t let your pen stop moving. Write any and all words that come to your head regardless if they make sense, come in full sentences, or are the same word repeated over and over again for the full half hour (in fact – that might very well tell you what you should be writing about.)

We write to discover more deeply who we are and what it means to be human, but this discovery can become stilted when our reliance on our usual writing routines and styles becomes more powerful than the freedom we demand as artists to express ourselves.

Try it. Have the courage to let the element of surprise be both your guide and your weapon – and tell us at Restless Writers how it went.

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Filed under Inspiration, Motivation, Writing ideas

You Come Here Often?

We Restless Writers are still swooning over the great Twitter chat (Twat? Oh dear…) last week with the writing group from Calgary. One question we kept asking – and getting asked – was how we (the Restless Writers) met. It began like many of today’s great relationships do: online.

I had taken some writing workshops with Brian Henry and he suggested that I find a critiquing group for my work in progress. I had no clue how to organize, find or join such a group so Brian offered to put an ad in his popular e-newsletter.

It was like match.com for writers: “Single, writing female seeks same for mutually beneficial relationship. Groups ok.” I received e-mails from an established writer (whose group had broken up a few years prior) and another writer who, along with her friend, was looking to start a formal group that focused more (or at least equally) on the writing as it did on the wine.

Getting ready for our first meeting was like preparing for a blind date: Will they like me? Will I like them? Do I have the goods to keep them interested? We had a meal together and although things didn’t work out with the other writer, Beckie, Maria and I decided to keep going. Now here we are, over a year later, still as enamoured with each other as ever.

Although the wine flows freely and we drown ourselves in a river of melted Brie, the Restless Writers do eventually focus on the job at hand. I’ve basically re-written the first 100 pages of my WIP and it wouldn’t have happened without this group. And we’re not benefitting solely from the critiques at these meetings: the ladies are always bringing magazines and books for general interest or inspiration (i.e. when I had sexy-times-writer’s-block I was given Exit to Eden…consider me officially unblocked, ladies…).

For me, this group is essential. They hold me accountable, bolster my self-esteem, help me through the rough spots and make me a better writer. In fact, they have all the qualities you could ask for in a spouse writing group.

LD

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Filed under Blogging, Group meetings, Inspiration, Starting up, Writing resources

Sexy-Times: Trials & Tribulations

I’m revising the final act of my manuscript and I’ve hit a wall. A sex wall, to be exact.

You see, there’s a romantic, um, encounter that occurs and I’ve been struggling with both how far my heroine goes with the fella as well as how descriptive said encounter should be.  Apparently, despite my initial bravado, I am an emotional twelve-year-old when it comes to writing sex scenes (complete with blushing, discomfort and mild nausea).

Now, I like a good sex scene as much as the next middle-aged suburban soccer mom, but when I have to choreograph it…well, let’s just say it feels like my grandma is reading over my shoulder (or is – shudder – in the room with my heroine and her dude).

Last month, I unveiled my progress to my fellow restless writers and the reaction was unanimous: MORE SEX PLEASE!

And I tried, I really did: I googled “how to write a good sex scene”; I drank a lot of red wine; I even had some fairly steamy stuff on paper. But it just wasn’t working for me and I started feeling like a big, frigid prude (Judy Blume was cranking out fantastic raunch in her sixties!).

Then I read an interview with Jennifer Weiner, one of my favourite authors, and she stated that, as long as her mother was alive, she wouldn’t be writing any  sex scenes either.

My fellow writers will be disappointed, but until further notice, Ms. Weiner and I will be tunneling under the sex wall, much to the relief of our mothers/grandmas.

Lori

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Filed under Starting up, Trials and Tribulations