1. crime.prose
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    crime.prose Member

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    Predrafting and mental block

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by crime.prose, Jan 13, 2009.

    Many times I look at the computer screen trying to think of what to type next. But I have the cursed mental block and the cursor blinks away as if to say ‘well what are you waiting for, Christmas?’

    For me at least the cure for this is predrafting.

    I have an A4 pad of paper and write I note down rough ideas; plot, character, scenes and so on. Then I work on them, see if and how they connect together. To see if they work. And if not, why not? Etc., etc.

    After a while I have some ideas to type up. Mental block has been slain. If only for a while.

    I don’t know why, but I just can’t seem to think up decent ideas to work with when sat in front of the computer. Type them up and develop them yes, but think up the beginnings of a decent idea, no forget it.
     
  2. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    If it works for you, great. The main thing is to write, actively. Too many slip into the boggy ground of excuses when something like this happens to them. You're doing the right thing by moving from your 'frozen' zone of the screen to the page where you can get some constructive work achieved. I always write my first drafts longhand anyway, because I find the relationship between the pen and the page more substantial. Good on you, hope you find success with your project.
     
  3. othman
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    othman Member

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    Yeah, I know what you mean. Having a notebook handy whenever you get an idea is much better than trying to 'force' yourself to write, and it's great that it works for you. Alas, I am not so lucky.

    Good luck with your writing.
     
  4. Jade
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    Jade Active Member

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    There is something quite intimidating about an empty computer screen. Usually I just don't like the way my writing looks after a while. It's strange because I feel better about it when I change the font. Still, the internet doesn't help my concentration either. :p

    The paper technique of planning is helpful for those boggy moments that Cheeno mentioned - mindmaps are usually good with the key areas like setting, characters and events for that scene.
     
  5. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I don't really do either--sit down and plan out/brainstorm a story first, or sit at the computer first. Since I write longer stories for the most part, I just spend a lot of time mulling them over before sitting down at the computer to type them up. Thinking about my stories and characters for a long while before starting work is my best method of getting a story to actually go somewhere. In truth, I can't even imagine the concept of wanting to write a story but having no idea already in mind and so having to brainstorm one up. The idea comes to me, THEN I want to write it. But that's just me.

    To each his/her own. :)
     
  6. crime.prose
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    crime.prose Member

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    Thank you, hope the same for you as well.
     
  7. crime.prose
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    crime.prose Member

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    Many thanks, I wish you the same.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    just a fancy word for 'outlining'?
     
  9. crime.prose
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    crime.prose Member

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    Well yes basically.
     
  10. Benska
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    Benska Member

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    I'm exactly the same. If I just sit down at the computer, or with paper and pen when I only have the bare bones of my story in my head I get major writer's block. Whereas if I spend time mulling over the story, characters, various ideas and what not, and developing/solidating the story, for the most part, in my mind, I will usually be exited and eager to start actually writing.

    This is the cure for writer's block in my opinion. But that's just me. ;)
     
  11. othman
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    othman Member

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    Hmm, I was thinking, why is when a writer 'can't' write called writers' block whilst when runners 'can't' run anymore called hitting the wall? I mean, I understand the latter but why aren't they both called that?
     
  12. TheIllustratedMan
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    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

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    ^You could call it "runner's block" if you like, or "hitting a wall" when you can't write. Whatever works for you. :-D

    I'm trying to work on getting a flow going when I write. I've been contemplating a typewriter, because that makes it hard to revise immediately. When I use the computer, I tend to write a sentence, reword it, finish the paragraph, revise it, write another paragraph, revise the two, then try to move on. By then I've totally lost the flow of the story, and the first two paragraphs are so over-revised that they're garbage.
    I'm also trying to stay away from outlines, because I don't want to end up holding myself to them too much. I find that when I do get a flow going, I end up leaving out things that I had planned on mentioning, and adding in things that are a complete surprise to me. I think I prefer it that way. With an outline I think I would feel that I had to work things in that I had left out, and add the new things back into the outline. It's too structured for my liking.

    Of course, it could definitely help me with descriptive writing, which is something that I forget to do. I tend to glaze over things, and when I do remember to be descriptive it seems out of place. Always things to work on...
     
  13. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    "When I use the computer, I tend to write a sentence, reword it, finish the paragraph, revise it, write another paragraph, revise the two, then try to move on. By then I've totally lost the flow of the story, and the first two paragraphs are so over-revised that they're garbage."

    I always write my first draft longhand, using the later transcription to hard-drive as an initial reviewing process. The thing is to 'get it down'. After that, well, the world's your oyster; you can leave it and move on or go over it as much as you want, but you'll at least have the essential first draft written. I find having the 'shape' of the piece in my head helps me bigtime when it comes to creating the work. It may take a turn here or there as I write, but knowing where the scene or chapter is going, and 'feeling' what it's about, greatly assists my creative process. You also need to let go a bit and enjoy what you're doing. Creative struggle is once thing, but torture is quite another, even retrograde, in my opinion. Relax and breath easy.:)
     
  14. TheIllustratedMan
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    TheIllustratedMan Active Member

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    Bingo. That's what I'm working on now. I would try longhand, but I'm awfully afraid of cramping. :-D Maybe I'll give it a go one of these days.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    to avoid the cramping, eyestrain, and other discomforts of writing longhand, do what i do and use a fat pen and a pastel lined pad with thick. unbendable cardboard backing, so you can write comfortably anywhere, in any position...
     
  16. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    When I was trying to write the rough draft of my novel last year, I would be able to come up with the ideas but it felt impossible to transfer them on to paper. Instead, I got majorly bogged down and ended up writing around four or so fairly lengthy outlines of the same story; biggest writing mistake I've ever made. After a while, I just kind of said "This is stupid. I'm supposed to be writing, not planning on how to write" and just started. I ignored the quality and just wrote and found the end results to be half-decent. Predrafting is important, at least to me, but doing it in excess, as I did, is just as bad as not writing at all.
     

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