Saturday, May 26, 2012

Writer's Block

by June Shaw Do you often get what's commonly called writer's block? Just what is this thing? What causes it? Can you do anything about it? Let's take a look. A writer may feel blocked when unable to get ideas for starting a new work. What should the title be? A perfect title needs to come first, you know. And then the first sentence has to grab the reader--right? And the first paragraph. And that first page must have the reader--hopefully a top agent or editor--breathlessly flipping to the next page to see what happens next. We must keep up this tempo for the first five pages at the absolute minumum. After that, the entire first chapter must sing. Whew. You're rolling along. Now it's time to start your second chapter--Wait, should you write Chapter 2 or CHAPTER 2 or just 2 or give it a name? Who cares right now? Just write CHAPTER if you arent't sure and keep moving. Your second chapter needs to sing from the start to keep your reader going along with you. Then, of course,you'll need to keep up this tempo and keep your reader with you till the end. Your story's twists have to be perfect and take the reader in another direction. Keep surprises going. Oh, and I forgot to mention you need to make us care about your protagonist from the first word almost and he or she must have flaws. And then .... Okay, so all of these things will help make your work successful. But if you're going to stop and think about each of them from the start of every new work--and you can't get going until you've gotten them all straight.... I don't know about you, but all of this overload when I'm trying to begin any new work would make me stall or even not want to start. Sure, that might be called writer's block. It's a problem many writers face. We learn a lot about our writing craft today. But we can't stop to think about getting each work and sentence and phrase perfect. That's what rewriting is about. When you rewrite a work you can decide to throw out the first sentence or page or make the second chapter your first. You can see where your work needs a twist or surprise and discover how a different character in your book might make a better killer. Or love interest. Or needs to be thrown out. Those who are good at outlining everything and then going right to work on the book may be able to have all of the details figured out from day one. Most of us, though, need to know that our words might not be perfect, but we need to write them. We need to sit and start writing and keep things flowing. We can and should make changes later. There. That's my suggestion for today about what to do if you have writer's block. Actually, when I sat down to create a post for our blog today, I had absolutely no idea what topic I'd write about. This is probobably the longest post I've written. It must be my magic chair and my magic keyboard. I usually find that when I sit in this came chair and set my fingers on this same keyboard, words flow. They certainly aren't perfect, but then neither am I. I did, however, come up with some advice that might help someone. And that's one of the main purposes of writing (oops, I mean getting past writer's block:) Good luck with your work! I'd love to know what other suggestions you might have to pass on to others about what you do when your ideas are blocked. Thanks! June

7 comments:

June Shaw said...

I'll comment first. I wrote today's post using many paragraphs, yet it all came out as one. So sorry. The system has changed on me, and I haven't taken the time to figure out why and how to fix that. I need to work more on my newest book now. After that, I'll try to figure out how to get my posts to look right. Until then, please forgive me. The word's the thing.

Earl Staggs said...

You're right, June: "The word's the thing." Paragraphing aside, everything you said struck home with me. When you come up with solutions to these problems, I want them.

Jaden Terrell said...

Great point, June. Every time I sit down to write a first draft, I think, "What's wrong with me? My last book wasn't this crappy." I get all tangled up until I remember that the last one was indeed "this crappy" the first time through.

June Shaw said...

Gonna send those solutions to you right away, Earl: )

June Shaw said...

Oh, funny, Jaden. Yep, our first words aren't usually the best ones, but they get us going.

Mike said...

One of the best pieces of advice I've heard from another author is you can edit a badly written page but not a blank one.

June Shaw said...

Oh, I love that, Mike. Thanks for sharing.