I would say that I don’t suffer from writers block as much as I do the writers blues. Let me explain-
I think of writers block as being painted into a corner or being unable to write something. For example- you have built an entire novel around the idea that a man stranded on an island escapes, using his own wit, without waiting for rescue. When it comes time to write the grand get away however, you can’t figure out how to get him across the big blue without a boat. Your character is left wondering the island day after day while you, his creator, research survival stories on the internet; trying to find ways to make a usable raft with the few bits of string or the scraps of cloth you gave him in chapter one. That is writer’s block and to me it’s always been easy to get around that one. Go back and write in some rope and a torn sail.
Writer’s blues however; are when it’s not that you can’t write, but that you don’t believe in what you are writing. It’s where everything you seem to put onto paper sounds like BS to your own ears. The stranded man just stumbles across a boat that has been on the other side of the island the whole time. He never thought to explore over there? You aren’t buying it and you wouldn’t sell it to your reader either.
But cheer up. Not only is this condition usually temporary, but some of your best writing can come from pushing through it.
One of the ways I do this is by not thinking about the ending. Some people start a story with a beginning, middle, and an end already in mind. If that works for you, wonderful, stick with it. For me, I find that 80% of the time I don’t know the ending of a story until I’ve actually reached it. That’s probably why I prefer to write short stories; because half the time, I’m in just as big a hurry as the reader is to find out what happens next. I believe, by not worrying about whether or not you can reach the ending, you open yourself up to the really good ideas that will naturally take you there. True, you may find out that you started with an action story and ended with a romance, but as long as your comfortable with it-wrap it up, put it on the shelf and start another action tale. A good story is worth it in the end.
Another tactic I use is to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Remember when I said you wouldn’t buy it? If you know it’s bull so will everyone else. You may not be a mechanic but I bet, just by having empathy for your character, you can write about working in a garage. You probably know he/she would not wear a crisp, expensive, white shirt to work for instance, but a blue coveralls jumpsuit would be honest enough. Have sympathy and compassion for each of your characters. Get in their head and think about human nature. You don’t have to write about yourself to still have the truth as you believe it come out. I’ve never been eaten by living monsters but that hasn’t stopped me from being able to imagine how it would feel or what my reaction might be.
Don’t be afraid to put a little of yourself out there. Writing is a very personal experience because, if you are going to do it well, you must invest yourself. With everything you write you put a little of your own soul into it. This can be frightening but exhilarating and a great way to get in touch with your own mind. Most of my stories are complete fiction yet, in everything I do write, there is a little bit of me that can’t help seeping through the cracks. Good writing invokes passion. If you can’t be honest with yourself when writing a character, imperfections and all, you won’t be able to reach that future reader. (You ever really want a mind trip, write a piece from a pedophiles point of view.) Be brave enough to face the inner turmoil of your characters, even if you would rather hide from it.
The best way to beat the writers blues is to keep writing and remember only you can tell that story. Think about that next time you are frustrated with that day of writing. No one else, in this entire world, has lived your life. There will never be another person that knows every experience you know, or has felt exactly as you have every second of every day. Nobody is ever going to know your exact pain or your exact joys. Therefore, while many people will be able to sympathize, no one is ever going to be able to create what you can put to paper.
If that’s not a reason to write… I don’t know what is.
Thanks for reading- Talyn Marie