Last week had the Wonderful Karen Guyler here to give us her insight into the word of novel writing. Today she joins us again to share her thoughts on something a lot of people suffer from; writer’s block. Is it a myth?
At the risk of causing an uproar I believe there is no such thing. We’ve all heard the flippant comebacks that you don’t hear about neurosurgeon block – sorry Mr Patient, can’t operate today because I’m just not feeling it – or mechanic block – sorry, Mrs Broken Down Car, can’t sort it out because I’m blocked. But there are times for all creatives when being creative is just hard, those days where it’s easier to bang your head on the desk than stare at the blank screen.
I believe it’s more an inspiration issue and to get new inspiration out, you have to put it in. So, stop staring, go read something, do some research, go do something where words are not involved – pair up the odd socks, go for a walk/run/bike ride. Don’t confuse this with displacement activities and I am so good at being the queen of displacement, I sometimes have to shout at myself to just sit down and get on with it!
When I hit that point I’ve learnt to walk away because I know I’m derailing my story and that’s why my muse is blocking me so it’s then a question of figuring out where I’ve gone wrong.
If you’re finding it hard to write these tips should help:
1. Free write
Just a stream of whatever is going on in your head.
‘Well, this is rubbish, I have no idea what to write now, I’m stuck, don’t even know why, why is writing about a fairground so hard? Why are they even in a fairground, oh, wait a minute.’ If you can get out of your own way, you’ll often shake loose what’s wrong.
2. Write something else.
Be that something entirely different such as flash fiction, a short story, just to show you that it’s not writing that is giving you the problem – you can still do it! – it’s what you’re writing.
3. Jump ahead a few scenes
Jump to the one you’re really looking forward to getting on the page, where you know exactly what’s going to happen, this can really help when you’re stuck as once you see where you’re aiming for, you get a much clearer idea of how to get there. Writing ‘XXXX happens here’ is okay in first draft! Examine your story elements
4. Look at your plot
If you’re struggling to write, maybe your story doesn’t have enough legs to get you to where you want to go. Can you introduce a subplot?
Is your character doing something deep down you know they wouldn’t? Do you need to work that trait into their characterisation or change what you’re wanting them to do?
If you’re in Milton Keynes, Karen will be teaching creative writing through adult continuing education from September.