Pressure to write is one of the worst situations for creative types. You’re being forced to express yourself within the constraints of your publisher, your deadline or another outside force that you have no control over. It can be a tough time sat in front of the keyboard waiting for that lightbulb moment, so why not give yourself part of that time dedicated to reading blogs, other books, magazines and watching some movies? They might not be filled with great writing, but you can usually find one good piece that inspires a dialog, character or scenario.
Why o why do we still torture ourselves with this?! Unless you’re still using a typewriter or have super-human hands for using a pen, you’ll know the pain of losing 2000 words when something ‘goes wrong’. That dreaded popup that appears with the ferociousness of 10,000 punches to the face saying ‘an error has occurred’ is not what you need after a late night’s slog at your new best-seller.
Using auto-save on your editor or getting yourself a cheap watch with an alarm you can set every half hour might help alleviate the anger!
A quick search of Twitter using the tag #writersproblems reveals one of the top 3 issues faced by fiction writers is forgetting your own characters. It can create massive problems when you forget who’s done what, especially when you’re writing off-the-cuff and letting your creative flow loose.
Some writers prepare the plot, characters and twists to the detail before writing that first word, yet others prefer to just start and see where they end up. This is great for creativity but not everyone’s as organised. Set up a pinboard near where you write with some coloured cards and a marker. Create yourself a detective-style flow chart with names, incidents or relationships connected up with a bit of wool and a few pins. Better still, keep a journal.
Writer’s block isn’t just a lack of inspiration, it’s a lack of everything. Enthusiasm, ideas, synonyms, flow, linearity and much more. It happens when you’re under pressure, stressed, pre-occupied or for absolutely no reason whatsoever! Join some forums and find people in a similar situation, swap ideas and meet people. Listen to music, especially tracks you’ve haven’t heard before. Avoid the familiarity of your favourites as you already know the plot! By opening yourself up to other choices you can hope that something sparks your imagination in the same way.
Not every writer has the luxury of being a full-time wordsmith. Some of us have ‘real jobs’ (as our mothers probably called them) which often drains your energy and saps that creativity out of you. Writing your book doesn’t always feel like a priority when the washing piles up or you’ve a sink full of pots. Maybe your kids require some quality time with you or your cat wants a fuss? Unless you’ve got an imminent deadline, take time out to be you and plan a time in the week (or day) where you’re free from distraction and have an hour or two away from it all. Life is always an inspiration for character-profiling, understanding ourselves and others and you should take the positives from every day.
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