By Jennifer Hudson Taylor
Writer’s block is something all writers eventually deal with and must overcome. There are a variety of techniques in conquering writer’s block, and they are as varied as writers themselves. I’d like to share some of the methods that have helped me.
Discover the SourceIf you can figure out the source that is causing the block, you might be able to avoid the trial and error method and deal with the problem straight on. Some of the causes of my writer’s block in the past have been:
Stress1. I was simply overwhelmed by health issues with my little girl and financial struggles with lots of medical bills and debt. Other times I was stressed from grief over the loss of a loved one.
Solution: Time, more prayer and reading God’s Word. There are times in life where nothing can comfort us better than God himself. The problem is out of our control. It isn’t necessarily going to disappear and no loved one can say anything that will make you feel better. I finally learned to write on the good days and not force it on the bad days. I had to accept my limitations. Sometimes the only thing that poured from my heart and fingers were journals. That’s okay. Let it out. Journaling is a healing process. Allow yourself this experience and the stories will follow. This is where time comes in.
2. Work Responsibilities consumed me and I received unfair treatment from my boss. I had anxiety attacks over the thought of going back to work one more day.
Solution: I tried everything to make the job work. I finally realized I couldn’t change my circumstance on the job, but I could change the job. The idea of updating my resume, writing cover letters, and going on job interviews seemed so daunting. What if my next boss turned out worse? I set aside my writing to concentrate on getting a better job in a better environment. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I prayed for the kind of job and environment I wanted and God blessed me. After that I had no trouble writing.
3. An overwhelming schedule.
Solution: Delegate to other members in the family and stop saying yes to everyone at church. Cut back on unnecessary things. Ask yourself, is this activity more important than my writing? What is God calling me to do? Don’t agree to anything or do anything until you know the answer to these questions. Sometimes spouses and children can do more than we are asking—and often they are willing.
Not Knowing What to Write Next1. If you’ve just finished writing a book or a series and you’re not sure what to write next, this is normal. Perhaps you have so many ideas you can’t pick one, or you don’t have any ideas for the next one. The solution is same.
Solution: Take a short writing break and pay attention to which story drifts across your mind most often. You may find that God wants to reveal a new story to your heart and the others need to wait. Jot down the ideas that come to mind. Pray about it and one story will start burning in your heart and won’t go away. When this happens, go with it.
Not Knowing Where the Story Should Go1. This often contributes to a sagging middle. Writers will start out writing a strong story and somewhere in the middle lose their way or miss the connection that is supposed to take them to the ending they have in mind. This problem plagues writers who write by the seat of their pants with little or no plotting beforehand. It happens to plotters when the plot isn’t working or they’ve deviated from their character’s goals.
Solution: Stop writing. Start with chapter one and write down the climatic points for each scene. Pick out the goal, motivation, and conflict. Do this for the remaining unwritten chapters. Write down the highlights of what you want to happen. Estimate 3-4,000 words per chapter which equals about 12-15 pages. This helps with word count. For more words, think of a plot twist to add. For less words, look for scenes to cut.
No Inspiration to Write
1. Sometimes inspiration goes dry and we feel depleted. No drastic changes in life have caused it and lack of time to write isn’t a problem. Staying focused and on task seems impossible. The motivation just isn’t there.
Solution: Perhaps you need a change and that is the problem. Alter your routine. Instead of writing at home, try writing at a coffee shop, in the park, or go on a writing retreat. Think about some of what sparked your motivation to write in the past. Was it a movie, vacation to some historic relic or exotic place, a book you read? Try another creative outlet to inspire you. Do you like to draw, paint, sculpt, knit, golf, swim, jog, or bicycle? Doing something different will inspire you to finish a story or write a new one.
Fatigue1. We are not super humans with tubo-charge power. We grow tired and need to rest. Colds, allergies, illnesses, extra projects, changes in our schedule will slow us down.
Solution: If you miss writing a few days, it isn’t the end of the world. Sleep extra, take a warm bubble bath, read a book, go for a walk, get away from the computer. All of these things contribute to rest. Your eyes, brain, fingers, neck and shoulders need a break. Take it. A little rest can give you the refreshment you need to break through writer’s block.
Monday, March 24, 2008
By Jennifer Hudson Taylor