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Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Writing Process: Writer's Block and How to Cope

Writer's block! The bane of all authors, published or non! The one thing that makes you pull your hair out and cry. You could've been on a roll, typing up a furious storm of plot and dialogue and then suddenly...nothing. You're stuck. You don't know why, but you don't know where to go next, you can't connect with the characters you've been writing about anymore, and if you're on a deadline this could present a serious problem. So how do you blast through the block to finish that precious manuscript?

First things first: find out the cause of the block. Are you facing a great deal of stress in your personal life? Are you burnt out from writing and need to take a break to recharge? Are you trying to force something onto the paper but it's not working and you're fighting with your Muse? Is your Muse happily churning away at stories, many stories, just not THAT one?

My primary source of writer's block has been stress. Make no mistake about it; I live a full life with a day job, multiple responsibilities, and an awful lot of hobbies. It's hard to do it all but I try--and this is why I perpetually fail, because you can't. There's no way you can do it all and yet, perfectionists like me try because while there's only so many hours in the day you're cramming it in with as much stuff as possible.

If it's stress, it's time to de-stress in order to let those creative juices flow. Relax. Take some personal time out to relax. Go for a walk, get a pedicure, go see a movie--find whatever it is you need to do that will prevent you from going nuts and will recharge you. Listen to music. Exercise to your favorite workout program. Read a book. Do whatever it takes to pamper yourself and get yourself back on track.

Perhaps it's not so much stress as it is time; if you're one of those where once you sit down to write you can't stop and need at least 30-60 minutes to get into that mindset, let the Muse gush, and not finish until you're done finding those 30-60 minutes can be brutal. You may need to set a writing schedule for yourself and make sure that those precious minutes are not wasted doing email, Facebook, or watching tv.

Then there's the other problem: fighting the Muse. How often have we wanted things to go in a particular direction only to have the characters just NOT do it? Or worse yet, your inspiration takes you to a place where you really don't want to go either at that moment or at all--and you can't find the creativity for anything else?

Here's my suggestion in that instance: let the Muse win. Write that fluff-piece for your favorite fandom, write that scene completely out of order to the rest of the story, work on that other manuscript, just GET IT OUT. Get out the urge while you have it, feed that inspiration, and you'll find that the rest of the writing will be that much easier along the way.

Also, if you're finding that you're having to force your characters to do something, think on why it's a struggle. Is it potentially out of character? Do you need to adjust the plot so that they DO behave the way you want them to? Remember that you're writing about people who need to be as true to life as possible. If you're forcing them to do something, it'll come across as forced for the reader too. Trust your instincts and your inspiration, and find something that works for both you AND the characters.

Love & Magic,

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