‘The breeze blew softly over the waves bringing in the smell of the north. Thunder echoed long over the vast lake now dark grey as it reflected the coming storm. Scattered all around her were rocks of all colors, worn smooth from their journey to the shore.’ – Whitefish Point, Bee 2018
I’m full of excitement, my heart pounding. I’ve hit the plus button on my blog or documents and set up all my preferences. I can’t wait! This is going to be so awesome! I am going to write. My biggest passion is about to unfold. The cursor blinks waiting for all this genius inside my head. Then it hits me. Writer’s block. I stare blankly and go, ‘What just happened?’. I have a vast world both outside and inside my head and yet nothing is coming to mind. If you have ever felt this dear reader, then you are normal. Yes normal! All of us at one point or another suffer from writer’s block. My longest stint was a year and half! That was when I came up with Bee’s Top Ten! The top ten ways to capture this beast and tame it into a kitten.
Here I will put in my top ten ways to bust through it. Not all of them will work. Maybe none! But it gets the ball rolling:
Bee’s Top Ten for Writer’s Block:
- Go back to your favorite location: When I struggle with that blinking cursor I begin to think about places. My memories come from nature and dramatic scenery. I begin to write what I see around me in my mind. Is the day sunny? Is it hanging in mist? How do the trees look and smell? Are there trees? After a few paragraphs of that place I wish to share with the reader, I can begin to go more in-depth. I will drop in a character who is also enjoying (or hating) the location I built around them.
- The Five Word Fix: This is a system that my best friend from high school and I came up with one day probably between math and gym. One of us would write five words at random and pass it to the other. From those five words we wrote a short story involving our stationary world of characters. This has helped me time and again. Sometimes I will send a help text to a fellow author and just ask for five random words. Most times they are unaware of participating in my dragon slaying adventure. But some have caught on and make it terribly difficult and a comedy of errors ensues.
- Go read a book: Yep. That is exactly what I mean. GO. READ. A. BOOK. Whether it is fiction or non fiction, inspiration is all around us. Sometimes I have to read the whole book, most times not. It is as if I am getting a glimpse into another world for a short time giving my mind a break from my own. I get to study the competition, so to speak. Or maybe enjoy the well written journey from one of my idols. If you are curious as to what I read, I am happy to share what inspires me anytime. Send a message and you will get an answer of either a classic or a nonfiction. I am making my way through the classics this year.
- Poll your peeps. Phone a friend: This one comes in handy if you have someone who is supportive of your dream to be an author. It comes in handy if you have someone supportive of you. Sometimes, it just plain comes in handy. I have a core group of authors I probably send ridiculous Snapchats to more than ask for help from. That is alright because in the end, we can all lament about fictional men, misbehaving characters and the dreaded ‘Block Beast’.
- Go do something else: Sometimes we all just need to walk away. I find a chore that I put off while in my last writing hole. Or seeing as I just moved, (four months ago) I go unpack a box or two. I keep telling myself I will move in faster than three years this time. I might go outside and find an offensive weed to pull, water the plants that are nearly dead, or even fold the laundry. Gasp! I know! Bee folding laundry? What is this world coming to.
- Have an adventure: I don’t mean go book a flight STAT to South America and bungee jump off a tall bridge (Though I’m up for it if you are paying). I mean go for a walk, ride a bike, take a drive. Try that new coffee-house you have driven by but never stopped. Or if you are me, find a restaurant and try everything delicious and bad for you. It helps! An adventure is as easy as a new experience right in your home town.
- Be that person to eavesdrop: (Raises hand) Oh I am guilty! Guilty as charged! This idea I must give credit where credit is due. I had a professor at one of my universities named JSP. During a script writing class our assignment was to go out into the world and eavesdrop. My brain exploded I admit. Young Bee was suddenly covered in the wicked smirk of possibility. We needed no less than ten minutes word for word of a conversation near us. With no remorse, and a few friends for cover, I headed off to the local pub and got some good practice on realistic conversations. I am sure you see the many uses of this exercise, but for the sake of taming Writer’s Block Benny the Beast of Blankness, it can jump-start a good book.
- The local coffee shop: Every year I compete in something called NaNoWriMo. Every November I strike out to get a certain word count. After a decade I admit that some years are word vomit and others I get a full novel. That being said, this year I went to the local coffee shop. From my calm dim corner I could watch the rat race of coffee addicts come and go. These people were my new muses. My characters. I made up lives for them. Assumed the best and worst of them. I practiced character description. Which leads me to number nine.
- Work on character development: I have had a time or two that pesky new character hiding in shadows. He didn’t want to come forward, or let me know too much about him at first. Perhaps he was intimidated as in my books my men must be respectful of women and people in general. They have a code of ethics and standards they must abide by which can spook the less worthy characters off. Unless they are a villain. Then they can stay. Sometimes to beat out writer’s block, just start writing the biography of a character or two. What do they like? Do they have a favorite color? How insecure are they on a scale of one to ten? All of this will bring about a richer and fuller character when that block finally lifts.
- Write a bunch of crap: Yes friend! Write a bunch of crap! This is my current tactic. Sometimes I have to get all the crap and junk out of the way to really hone in on what story I am trying to tell. For example, I am desperately trying to create a decent story for my lost little mermaids. (No not the glittery flowing kind. Remember Bee is not rainbows and butterflies). I have no fewer than ten started novels of crap. All crap. Some are a little better than crap, but mostly it is just crap. Once my word vomit is over and my idea more solidified, the story will emerge triumphant. It will be one I finish, tuck away, and work to publish once I feel it is presentable.
I hope you enjoyed Bee’s Top Ten to busting through writer’s block. If you try any of these I would love to hear how that goes for you. Or if you have ideas I am happy to hear them as we all suffer from this beast time to time. Until then read, write, and eavesdrop just for Bee.