Saturday, September 10, 2011

Curing Writer's Block

Writer’s block sucks. But I think—I think!—it’s curable, with a little hard work. (And yes, it’s absolutely easier said than done.)
For me, the good news is that writer’s block seems to always have a cause, even if it’s hard to pinpoint at first. For me, it’s usually one of two things: either I’m just overwhelmed, or there is something seriously wrong with my story.
The latter can be especially bad if I don’t know exactly what is wrong, just that something is. This is what happened to me with a recent bad round of writer’s block. The story. Just. Wasn’t. Right. But I didn’t know why.
My solution this time around? Actually allow myself to see what was there. Finally, I realized that I kind of did know what was wrong—I just didn’t want to admit it, because it required a lot of changes [eh hem, less time spent trying to find excuses to have the boys be shirtless, more time solving the main story goal. Easy mistake to make]. Admitting it, though, was the first step. (No, there are not necessarily twelve steps here.) :) Once I admitted to myself that the story really did need that much work, I was able to go forward. And you know what? It didn’t turn out to be as much work as I’d built it up in my head to be.
When I’m just feeling overwhelmed is a different—but similar—story. Like with the big changes I mentioned above, sometimes there’s just SO much to do that it seems insurmountable. And that sucks, and it’s easy to get bogged down in feeling sorry for yourself and feeling like the story will never be finished. This tends to be where I fall into the “this is the worst story ever written” pit of despair.
But there is a way out. My steps?
1. Stop panicking.
2. Break down the work into small bits. For instance, “I need to revise and make my main character better” is a really huge goal. “I need to change my MC’s reactions in scenes 4, 7, and 13 to make her more likable” feels much more do-able.
And if all else fails? Drink a lot of wine and just write. :)
What are your cures for writer’s block?

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