Hello my fellow wanderers. Since travel hasn’t happened for me yet in 2021, I’m really focused on my latest novel, Rust & Ruin—book 2 in the Dust to Ashes series. I get asked often how I can write a book and not get writer’s block? It made me think, I should write a blog post about it. The simple answer? I don’t. I’m not immune to writer’s block and I don’t feel like many writers are. But, I’ve figured out how to fight it.
One: Don’t fight it. Ha! No but seriously, at some point we all find ourselves uninspired and unable to write and the reasons can be literally anything. When it happens don’t panic. Remember it’s normal. I’ve discovered it’s best to take a day or two away from the project. The more I try to fight the block, the worse it gets and then the self doubt monsters move in and live on my shoulders. We all face burnouts in everything else and writing is no different.
Two: Read. While I take a break from a project I will pick up a book and read. Usually I stay away from the genre I’m writing in and read something totally different. It relaxes me and triggers my imagination again. Sometimes this is enough to inspire me to write and the block dies right there, other times it just clears my mind. Either way, it helps take the pressure off and gets those creative ideas flowing again.
Three: Go outside. I know that’s hard with winter and pandemic stuff, but it’s a must. Fresh air and nature will help ground your body and mind again. We’re entirely surrounded by so much white noise it’s amazing we can focus on anything. I’m very sensitive to it and have to go out into nature at least once a week or I get extremely cranky. The fresh air clears my mind and relieves stress as an added bonus.
Four: Write garbage. After going for a walk outside, reading and accepting the block, start writing again. Put away any thoughts of grandeur and write trash. Write enough craptacular sentences to fill a dumpster. Your story will suddenly turn into a heaping pile of poo, but if you dig, it will have some words that are salvageable.
Five: Rewrite the trash. After you’ve finished writing the worst, most terrible pages of your life… go back and read it anew. You will find at least one or two useable sentences, then some plot ideas, dialogue and even a little inspiration to turn that garbage into treasure. Usually this final step of rewriting trash writing gets me really going back on my way again. It’s like the challenge of the rewrite sets off the creative artist in me.
As a writer, you are an artist who sculpts words into sentences and sentences into visible worlds. Each bad sentence has something useful in it, even if you don’t use it in the story, you’ve gained something. Maybe a sound or a color or a smell, there’s a little piece of story in it. I’ve sometimes been able to write entire chapters off of a single word from a shit sentence that came out during a bad case of writer’s block. No matter what, don’t give up, take breaks but never give up on capturing the writer’s flow again.
Until next time, keep them boots wandering!