Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Got a Cure for Blogger's Block?

By Chester Campbell

I've never been plagued by that strange malady known as writer's block. When I start on a story, I have no problem pursuing it to the end. Of course, when I get to the end, that isn't really the end. It's just time to go back to the beginning and start revising. But lately I've faced another dilemma: blogger's block. I sit down to create one of these scintillating journalistic exercises and...nothing. No idea what to write about. Should it be a piece on the craft of mystery writing, a short essay on some topic of current interest, some hopefully exciting tale from my checkered career?

Okay, say we try the writing assignment. I've been crafting mysteries full-time, more of less, for the last twenty years. I've read numerous books on writing, sat through panels at conferences and conventions covering just about any area of writing you could imagine. I've devoured my share of essays on everything from plots to characters to settings to...well, how about stuff to avoid (adverbs) and stuff to concentrate on (active verbs). Is there anything that hasn't been covered? Not likely. Do I have a unique approach to any of this?

I suppose my contribution might serve to remind someone of something they already knew but let slide in the pressure of the moment. That's one of the advantages I get from attending writers' conferences. It jogs my memory of things I should be putting into practice but have gotten away from over time.

Maybe it would be a good idea to take on some current hot-button issue. Politics is the big thing now, with the elections coming up in a few weeks. That's a sure way to stir people's ire. If you happen to be on the opposite side from them, you'd better be wearing a Kevlar vest. Have you read the comments following political pieces in places like the Huffington Post? If you enjoy crucifixion, give it a try.

You'd think everybody would be against taxes, but not this season. If you make more than $250,000, you're one of "them." I hardly take in a fraction of that, but it isn't because I wouldn't like to. My wife and I are always talking about how we wish we had enough money we could hand out $20 bills to every guy we see standing on the corner with a sign. Guess I'll have to save taxes for another time.

Hmm, looks like I'm down to my last choice, writing about an exciting adventure from my past. I've already covered a bunch of those, like the time my fourteen-year old buddy and I rode our bikes to the airport and went up in a snazzy open cockpit plane. I recently wrote in my own blog about rafting into the River of No Return Wilderness Area. I'm sure there are plenty of others I could  dig out of my rusty memory banks, but it's getting late and this blog needs to be up at 12:01 a.m.

So guess I'm back to my opening question: anybody got a cure for blogger's block?

Find me suffering also at Mystery Mania.


Ben Small said...

Well done, Chester. I've felt that way myself. Too many distractions, chores, doc visits, family requirements... The list goes on and on. Some days I don't have anything I wanna say...

Thank goodness, we're not on radio... :)

Mark W. Danielson said...

Guys (and gals), I have a cure for at least one day. I posted a blog last Sunday requesting writing tips from authors and received no response. The same post will come out Wednesday on Murderous Musings and I would really appreciate some thoughtful comments. There really shouldn't be any secrets in this business for it's the individuals' writing that counts. Thanks in advance, Mark

Karen Russell said...

First of all blogging should be fun, so I think it's okay to skip a post or two. :D

But to answer your question: I recommend trying something totally different. For example, if you've never done an interview or a guest post, try that. Sometimes that's enough to get me going again.