Thursday, August 14, 2008

Break the block

Recently, I had a small breakdown in my writing life. I think they call it "writer's block". Now before I hear from all the ones who do not believe in such things, let me say, I am talking about my own personal stuff here. I feel like it was a block, of a sort, no matter what name you put to it.

Out of this experience, I discovered a few things to do that aided in my attempt to overcome the lack of writing inspiration. For truly, a block is seriously that, a dry, arid land where there are no words. No inspirations.

So, here is a short list of what I have done. I hope it helps you.

1. Get into a setting that needs to be written about.
I went to my local park, and took a nature walk. I took photographs, and then, I sat down and wrote everything I could remember about the visit. Everything from how the light hit the trees at mid-morning to how the water sluiced when the geese and ducks floated over it.

2. Description of mundane items
I would free-write about silly stuff. For instance, the pen I am holding is a black Bic with a cap that comes off, and from that went into a long passage about pens. This free-writing stuff works, y'all. I discovered a lot more about that pen than even I wanted to know.

3. Experience is a great teacher
I pulled out a journal not quite filled, and wrote about my first teacher, my first horror movie, my first encounter with loss. You will be amazed at what you will remember when you try. This is a good exercise to build emotion into your writing. For how can you write about loss for your character if you do not know how to write it from your own experience?

This is just a short list, but one that if you try it, will get you going into the writing chair and keep you there for some time.


Marta Stephens said...

Dried up inspiration is most certainly a block. Glad you're out of yours!

Good post. I do some of the same things you described. In one of my books there was a scene in the early morning hours of winter. So I went outside and "experienced" and "journaled" what I saw, felt, heard, and smelled. Made a huge difference.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Superb advice, Kim. I also find (and I've said this many times, so forgive me) that if you just get outside and live life for a while, it all comes streaming back to you. The input of every sensation will store up new material in your subconscious.

Lately, since I've been focusing on improving my "beats," I've been collecting beats from everywhere. While I'm in meetings at work, I scribble down every action I see taking place before me. "scratched ankle," "chewed on pen," "tapped toe," etc. I'm sure they think I'm being a very virtuous note taker (I do take real notes in between my more important 'beat' notes! Ha!), but it is a great way to collect them. I'm sick of my characters nodding and smiling all the time. ;o)

Kim Smith said...

Oh, yes. I agree Marta, and hope to get more time to do this.

Aaron, what a great idea! take a beat trip!! I love it!