Dealing with writer's blockJames Abela is the author of X-Treme Creative Writing, X-Treme Factual writing and X-Treme Speed Reading. His books are available at all good bookshops and at the Marshall Cavendish stand at the KL Book fair. His Website is here.
If you do a lot of writing, then you'll know that there are days when you just can't think of anything interesting to write or there's a dreaded piece of blank paper awaiting you. As a teacher of creative writing and an author I get asked about writer's block a lot and everybody wants a quick fix. There is a quick fix, but it is a painful because you have to admit to yourself why you are not writing. In nearly all the cases I have seen, it comes down to one of following reasons:
1. You don't really want to write it in the first place
This is a classic problem and one that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had terrible difficulties with, he'd created the legendary Sherlock Holmes and really didn't want to write about him any more, in fact he was loathed to write about him that he tried to kill him off only to be greeted by protests and thousands of letters demanding that he bring him back. In his case the motivation to continue writing was either to do it or become the most unpopular man in Victorian England. In a similar way when faced with something you don't wish to write, you must think of the bigger picture and why you need to write the piece.
2. You don't have any ideas
Sometimes you just can't think what to do next and there are a number of ways to fix this. If it is half way through a piece, then the best thing to do is find somebody you trust to help you and bring in a fresh perspective. If it is something new then do some research, which may be as simple as reading some books, watching television, visiting somewhere new or even just reading something random on the Internet.
3. You think your writing is bad
It is better to write something terrible and edit it than have nothing at all. I used to work in PR and I used to hate the fact that my boss would always make do the 1st draft, tell me all that was wrong with it in a few seconds and tell me to fix it. She did it because it took a lot less effort to correct something, than to come up with that first draft. I have seen some terrible manuscripts in my time, but it is a lot easier to say what needs to be done to improve something than to come up with a first draft. In the same way you can be your own editor, come up with that first draft and then go back and improve it.
4. You are stressed
Sometimes your mind is stressed and overworked and where possible the best thing you can do is to take a break, take a holiday or at the very least work on something else until you can come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes.
Hopefully the next time you think you have writer's block, you will look inwards and from there work out a solution.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Dealing with Writer's Block
James Abela guestblogs this piece about writers block, which I'm sure the writers among you will find useful. Do feel free to add your thoughts in the comments.