Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Guest Post with K.M. Weiland!

K.M. Weiland, from the blog Wordplay, is here today with an awesome guest post concerning a very awful problem - writer's block. Keep reading to find out six simple ways to overcome it, and don't forget to also check out her CD - Conquering Writer's Block and Summoning Inspiration.

Writer’s Block Busters

Writer’s block is that hairy beast that lurks beneath every writer’s desk, growling ominously, and threatening to steal our joy at any moment of any given day. Right?

Actually, as I discuss in my recently released CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration (http://www.kmweiland.com/books_CWBASI.php), writer’s block is only a monster when we let it become one. The surest way to best this beast is to send him packing before he ever gets a toehold in that lair under your desk (you can find lots of prevention techniques on the CD). But what happens on those occasions when he gets the best of us and stakes out his territory right in the middle of our latest manuscript? Following are a handful of surefire writer’s block busters:

1) Just start typing. Writer’s block feeds off our inertia. If our fingers are moving—even if all they’re creating is dreck—we’re one step closer to winning the battle.

2) Grab a book off your shelf, open it to a random page, select a random line, and use that as the next line in your story. You may have to change it later to avoid plagiarism, but for now just focus on getting your creativity jumpstarted.

3) Write yourself a letter. Pretend you’re a bestselling author who knows all the tricks of the trade. Now write this super-writer persona a letter, explaining all the problems that are keeping you from moving forward in your work-in-progress. That, by itself, may be enough to get you thinking logically about your plot holes. If not, switch roles and have Super Writer respond with an encouraging letter of his own.

4) Throw in a plot twist. Kill off a character, introduce a wormhole, reveal a secret identity. Even it makes no sense in the story, just let your hair down and start writing something deliciously unexpected. An object in motion in much more likely to stay in motion—and you may come up with a killer new idea.

5) Take a break. Sometimes writer’s block is just burnout in disguise. Our creative brains are like rubber bands: they can only stretch so far. Instead of obsessing over what you’re not writing, give your imagination permission to go on vacation. You may be surprised with what your subconscious comes up with when you’re not paying attention.

6) Give yourself permission to break the rules. Sometimes our obsession with crossing every T and dotting every I can knot us up into nervous wrecks of perfectionism. Forget all those rules that tell you to show and not tell, to avoid lengthy descriptions, or to forego info dumps. This is the first draft; all that matters is getting those words down on paper. You can perfect them later.

The cures for writer’s block are as multitudinous as the malady itself. Just remember that you don’t have to succumb to this foul-breathed dragon. He’s just a pitiful little lizard next to the awesome fury of your fingers pounding away at a story. Keep writer’s block in perspective, and he’s not likely to bother you!


K.M. Weiland writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in the sandhills of western Nebraska. She enjoys mentoring other authors through her writing tips, editing services, workshops, and her recently released instructional CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration.

7 comments:

  1. I love it! I've heard "throw in a plot twist" before as "make something happen." I was stuck once or twice in my first book and I ended up killing off a character and adding a walking forest. I didn't know what to do with either at first, but it kept me writing. Thanks for the tips.

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  2. These are great examples. I like the one where you borrow a line. Sometimes just typing something will help you get started.

    CD

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  3. Thanks so much for having me on your blog today, Kate!

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  4. I like the random line from a random page idea.

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  5. @Robynn: A walking forest definitely counts as unexpected! Sounds like a great plot twist to me.

    @Clarissa: I used to do an exercise where I borrowed the first line from a book, then wrote a new story from there. The results were always interesting.

    @Lorna: I can't take credit for that one. Luc Sante, among others, has recommended the random page/random line routine.

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  6. These are great tips but sometimes I wonder if writer's block is simply lack of motivation or passion for what you're writing. Maybe it's telling you to leave that work aside for awhile and go to something that truly drives you. I know it's hard to do because you feel like you're abandoning a child or giving up. But sometimes distance does make the heart grow fonder.

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    1. That's always something to consider. "Writer's block," in all its varied wonder, can be symptomatic of any number of things, including good ol' burnout, which, in my experience, can only be cured by some time away from the story.

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