Writer’s Block (and Pictures of Kittehs)
The one thing said by Aaron Michael Morales that I will always remember is that he didn’t believe in writer’s block. If a writer was having some kind of impediment to writing, then it meant that they weren’t ready to write the story they were trying to write. They weren’t meant to write it then. The block would go away when they were ready to write.
his pretty much lines up with my belief about writer’s block: either the writer is being lazy, or they’re pushing too hard. On my part, it’s usually the former. I’ve been known to distract myself with everything from food to internet “research” to Sims based on my characters.
There’s ways to get past the infamous “block,” although some methods may work better for other people, or need tweaking on an individual basis, or actually may work as a procrastination tool instead.
I carry a notebook and pen with me everywhere I go – or at least I try. Anything that comes to me while I’m at work, in class, or on the bus, I write down as soon as humanly possible. Even if it’s a line of dialogue, a character description, or a few sentences of narration. Even if I have no idea how or where it will fit into the novel, I write it down anyway – you never know what you’ll end up being able to use. I’ve saved everything I’ve written deAngelis-wise since the more or less unrecognizable twelve-page original draft from 2004. There are things I’m picking out of there that I’m using now, even though there are virtually no similarities left between the two stories. For example, in 2004 Jenna Devries was actually called “Cherokee Scot”, and instead of the fear of being Fallen, she was actually infected with the vampire virus and fighting the shift to vampire with both medication and sheer force of will. She could also do one-handed push-ups.
The point is that there are certain lines of dialogue I wrote, the way I described a room or a gesture, that I can remember I’ve done well before but can’t necessarily reproduce to my own satisfaction now. While this can lead to the danger of copying everything and never do any new writing – which can be so, so damaging – it helps to have something to work from if you get stuck.
I already talked quite a bit about my method of compiling soundtracks on iTunes for the purpose of writing. It helps to pay particular attention to the music when watching movies, and making an effort to find new music at any opportunity is a must.
Sometimes I will get so frustrated with a scene I’m struggling with that I start forcing it, and that’s just no good. Usually this is about one or two in the morning, and I’m tired and a little peckish and I probably smell bad, too. One of the things I started doing, back when I livd in a dorm, was to just get in the shower. Something about being shut off from any visual distractions and forced not to look at what I had already written removes a lot of the stress I had started to associate with the scene, and I could let it just sort of play through in my head like a move screen while I showered. By the time I was clean, dried, dressed, and had my hair combed – which is a time-consuming process in and of itself – I was able to sit down and get through the scene much more easily. Not painlessly, but without wanting to stab myself and kill things.
Things I Have Done to Facilitate Writer’s Block
The fact of the matter is, most of the time I just go with the writer’s block and goof around, later complaining to my unsympathetic friends, coworkers, and classmates about how I can’t get my novel written and I will never amount to anything as a writer. You know why they’re unsympathetic? Because I do things like…
1. Create Sims based on my characters.
At some point around junior high I started creating Sims based on the characters in the novel(s) I was working on. Mostly this didn’t going anywhere, until Sims 2 came out, and then I was like – YEAH! Procrastination station!
Why this ever seemed like a productive idea is far, far beyond me.
2. Collect LJ avatars
I was hoarding these things like nobody’s business. Don’t believe me? I filled up two free Photobucket accounts with JUST 100×100 pixel avatars. And there were more on my hard drive.
3. Watch Television
Every once in a while I would decide that I needed to watch television in order to better understand the archetypes to which my characters ascribed. Maybe this makes sense. However, my track record with this reveals the tactic for what it really is.
Spooks – entire series in 11 days.
Avatar: The Last Airbender – entire series in 17 days.
Rewatched all of Eddie Izzard’s recorded standup
True Blood – seasons 1 and 2 in less than two weeks
Torchwood – entire season in two days.
This is not a tool to combat procrastionation, this is procrastination in its worst form.
Now you know why my book isn’t done yet.