Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Author Problems: Writer's Block

I just want to let everyone know, if they don't already, that due to my hometown Seattle Seahawks going to face the Denver Bronco's at the "Superbowl", I'm putting up my sci-fi/horror novel Class 5 on sale for $0.99 on Kindle from Monday, January 20th, until the big game. So swoop on over to Amazon and grab a copy!

(Seriously, just try and say this out loud without laughing)

So, otherwise, I have to admit I've had a hard time working on this week's blog post. My depression has lifted it's head a bit and made it difficult to write much of anything. I have an anthology I would like to submit to whose window closes at the end of the month and I've not started on a piece for that yet. I also haven't gotten more than 1000 words done on "Hannah" in the past two weeks. 

Yeah, my NaNoWriMo project is moving on to its fourth month. 

Still, if you spend any amount of time trying to be a serious writer, "writer's block" is something you're going to have to contend with and figure out how to get over. One definition of it which I think puts it in the plainest words, reads like this. 
An inability to begin, or continue, writing due to reasons other than lack of basic skill or commitment. 
The problem I've had with "Hannah" has nothing to do with skill, commitment, creativity, or even energy. It seems to be almost a lack of will to continue with the work. My current problem, however, seems to be stretching outside of that piece and preventing me from working on anything at all.

The causes of Writer's Block can be varied though. It can be due to stress, disenchantment with one's own writing ability, a loss of interest in the subject, general depression, anxiety, or even just writing yourself dry. It can last for weeks, months, or even years. Supposedly, some people's careers have even been killed by interminable cases.

Fortunately, there are ways to counter Writer's Block, if you have a good idea of what's holding you back. 
  1. Force it. This is the easy one. Just ignore the block, sit down, and write. It doesn't necessarily have to be part of the story you're working on, or even part of a story at all. Write a blog post, a diary entry, a character study, or just write out a list of what is in the room. A lot of the time, you'll find that once you get started and you've been at it for a while, things will start flowing again, like a clogged pen that you manage to work the blockage out of. 
  2. If the block has to do with a particular scene or story, switch to something else for a bit. Try another story or skip ahead and move on to a different scene if you can. It may be that there's something about that scene that just isn't clicking right in your head and if you step away from it, things might fall back into place. 
  3. If you're having a problem with outright creativity, try brainstorming. Just a list of any ideas at all you can come up with. It doesn't matter what the ideas are for, if they're relevant to the story you're working on, or even whether the ideas are good or not. It can also help to make a list of what has gone on previously in the story. Revisiting what's already done can revitalize your imagination if you've gotten bogged down and lost track of where you are and what comes next. 
  4. Sometimes, you just run out of ink and all you can really do is step away and let it refill on its own. Take a weekend off, go out with friends, go hiking, play video games. Basically, do things that don't put any strain on your creativity. Try not to think about the stories you're working on, keep your mind clear of any ideas that might suddenly pop up. If you must, write them down quickly and then push them to the back of your mind. The whole point here is to let your mind rest and slowly refill. Imagine it like an empty coffee pot. You can probably squeeze a few more drops out of a used filter, but it won't be good and it isn't a good use of your time compared to putting in a fresh filter, grounds, and water, then letting it do what it's supposed to, which is to slowly heat, percolate, and make a fresh pot. 
It really comes down to how well you know yourself and figuring out what it is you need that's missing from your life and dragging you down. After all, you can't fix a problem if you don't know what it is. 

In the meantime, chins up, and keep writing!

~ Shaun 

Space Corps Directive 147: Crew members are expressly forbidden from leaving their vessel except on permission of a permit. Permits can only be issued by the Chief Navigation Officer, who is expressly forbidden from issuing permits except on production of a permit. 

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