Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sapphire, Sep 21, 2006.
you always say such wise things but all i can see is a chicken behind them
LOL. If you've got a better suggestion for my avatar, I'm happy to mix things up.
For me, writer's block has always been a cover-up. Not that it doesn't exist, but rather that the term - and the way it is conceptualized - obfuscates and compounds the actual issue. (We misidentify or misunderstand the cause.)
More simply: at the bottom of my writer's block, fear, doubt, and the inner-critic can be found. So when I fear failing or "not being good enough", I become chronically dissatisfied with my abilities and the resulting product, and I am swamped with doubt. But psychological repression has a way of trying to write it all off as "I can't think of anything". Probably because that's comforting to my inflated ego.
In conclusion, I am of the opinion that "I can't think of anything" is a lie. Maybe that's just my personal experience because I'm fortunate enough to always have ideas; if I say "I can't think of anything" it means that I can't think of anything that doesn't make me despair over how shit I apparently am.
maybe a cooked chicken this time? someone's gonna get salmonella dammit
Easy, you want him cooked, not burned.
I try to keep this in very general level. I don't know if this helps you or suits your situation, but...
Sometimes we protect ourselves from different things. Stimulus, changes, social interaction...
And sometimes lack of inspiration = lack of inspiring stimulus.
Do you have ways to seek things which could inspire you? Art? Music? Books? People? Nature? Youtube clips? Pep talks? Ted Talks?
Something strange? Something funny? Something non-existing? Something familiar in new light? Something like...
Pipes & balls?
Skating without hockey sticks.
I just love watching the people who proclaim that they have a passion for writing and then spend all of their time making excuses for why they aren't writing. You don't find time, you make it. You don't search for inspiration, you just write. Writer's block is an illusion. You might be stuck on that part of the book. Write something else. It doesn't matter. Just write. It's all that counts.
I do love writing, but there are times when it gets overwhelming. It's like I love my mother, but some days I just can't stand to be around her.
Maybe it would be helpful to think of your first draft as a sketch. Like a painter will do on a canvas prior to actually starting with the paint. Just a general idea of what you want the finished product to look like.
As an amateur painter, I can assure you the preliminary sketch often doesn't resemble much of the finished painting at all. It's just a general idea, to get the basic shapes in place—and even the basic shapes often change.
As a painter you don't spend tons of time on one little area to the exclusion of others. You work the entire surface, rendering more and more detail as you go—but across the work as a whole. It's kind of fun to watch a YouTube 'painter' work.
If you can get that sort of general-to-specific thing going with your writing, you might find it comes together better for you.
How about a fluffy dragon? Or a peony.
Sometimes, at least for me, 'writer's block' is simply the need for a new idea.
That can be an idea for a new approach to what I've already written. Or a different kind of character. Or an event that turns the story in a different direction. Or something that connects a couple of elements of my story in ways I hadn't thought of at first. LOVE these eureka moments, by the way. They rekindle enthusiasm, which blasts through writer's block like nothing else.
It's not always fear of failure that produces writer's block. It can be—but fear of failure has never been a huge problem for me.
When I get stuck, it just means I need to do some thinking—the kind of thinking that's done away from the computer. It can take a while, but I don't get stressed about it. Thinking and imagining is also part of writing.
Sitting and plugging away, churning out words isn't always what a writer needs to do to break through a block. As the old saying goes: If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
Ha ha! Okay, that's not a hole. That's a tunnel with both ends blocked. If you find yourself in one of those, definitely keep digging!
I love that marble music machine, by the way. I've watched that video before. What an undertaking!
Yeah, I have found this to be true for me. Most of the times I have been stuck is not because I'm particularly stressed, or doubting myself, or afraid of failure, but because I simply need to figure out how to progress and fill out how the story. It's just filling in the lines between one moment and the next; the bits of dialogue, setting the scene, characters moving around. You get to a certain point and you know how you want the scene to go but you have to know all the detail and then put it down in words, and you just don't know what exactly to put. And when you start the next scene too, and you're not sure where exactly to start.
As for doing some thinking, I have found what helps me especially is just imagining the scene in my head like a movie. When you're just sitting down and trying to write, you can get a bit detached just running through ideas almost mechanically about what to put, and lose the sense of imagination. If you just step away and focus on letting your imagination go, you can get all sorts of ideas. You might start picturing some part of the scene later on you haven't written yet because you're stuck, but once you start imagining that bit it's easy to start building it up and imagining more and more pieces to help string the whole thing together.
That's absolutely what works for me. I call it 'envisioning,' but 'watching a movie' is what I mean. I even scribble down bits of dialogue. Most of all, I can 'get' the feeling of a scene, if I do that.
It's easy to take that idea of sketch, painter and painting to rewriting, editing, polishing...
1. Shitty First Draft = Your sketch.
2. Supporting material you write = Extra papers where you test, sketch different parts of your painting before adding them to the main work.
3. Rewriting & editing rounds = You add layers. You don't try to finish it in one go. One round might be correcting grammar and writers voice. Another might be correcting subplots. One of the rounds might be correcting characters. Some of the editing rounds might focus on killing your darlings and mannerism...
4. You don't stop when it's perfect. You stop before that. You stop when you don't make it better by "correcting" it.
5. You don't focus on perfection. You focus on katharsis.
Exactly the process I meant. And I reckon you're right, too, about the 'perfection' thing. Something that is too perfect but has lost its initial enthusiasm in the process of getting there can feel flat. Keeping that catharsis is important. If you don't feel it, the reader probably won't either.
I believe a sense of catharsis or enthusiasm is the HARDEST thing to insert into the story during an edit. It's best if that is allowed to flourish during the early part of writing, when you, the writer, are feeling it. It can always be cut back, if necessary, but it's not easy to put it there later on.
That is why I pay so much attention to alpha readers.
If they give feedback only about they own physical responses to text and nothing about text itselff, you get direct feedback about how cathartic your text is or is not.
It's easy way to stay focused to catharsis.
I started a thread about it some time ago. I start to find it when I have time to do it.
I remember seeing that thread ...but can't remember where it was either. Ach well....
Separate names with a comma.