Breaking Through Writer's Block
Evil, isn’t it? But the good news is that it doesn’t exist. When you think you see it, feel it and fear it, there’s a choice. It’s one you, as a writer, control. There are steps you can take to move forward and write.
The first, and I think the most important step, is to stop criticizing yourself. As writers, we dwell in words and sometimes they talk back to us. Some unattractive things that go through my head include, ‘That’s stupid,’ ‘Everyone will hate my writing’ and the all-too-famous, ‘I’m not good enough.’ I’ve been known to shout, ‘Shut up!’ to those voices. What I’m writing now can always be changed. My creations aren’t written in stone – literally. As long as I’m thinking and putting words down, I’m good enough. Not only am I good enough, I’m great! I love the quote from former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.”
If full sentences aren’t coming to you, try making notes. One word at time will work. I like to use verbs. What are the consequences of this verb happening to my characters? When my protagonist slips while walking on an icy sidewalk, what might happen? A broken arm? A wet bottom? Knocking down a stranger? My verbs are ‘slips,’ ‘walks,’ ‘breaks’ and ‘knocks (down). I pick my favorite and start writing. Even if it’s garbage, I’m still writing, still moving forward – which is the whole idea.
Another favorite technique is to plot the story backwards. When I know how it’s going to end, I list the events that need to happen to make it work. If that’s too complicated, sometimes I will focus on what needs to happen before a specific plot point. A lot of writers think this is weird. Maybe it is. It can also be weirdly successful.
You are a writer and no one else can tell you otherwise. When you meet someone who asks what you do you, say, “I’m a writer.” Don’t say, “I’m an accountant,” or “a fireman.” A writer is a person who writes. Inevitably, they will ask if you’re published. You don’t have to say, ‘No,’ and blush. Say, “It’s in progress.” That’s the truth, because it is.
Barbara (Mother) Wilson is a writing coach for aspiring authors. She'll keep you and your book moving toward publication. Don't ever quit!