Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Writer's Block: The Influenza of Literature

Coffee is at your side. Keyboard at your hands. You have the time and will power to write, but you’ve been in this scenario for over an hour now and all you have written is, “It was a cold day in December…”


Ah, writer’s block, the influenza of literature. And to think you thought this novel/short story/ ect. was going somewhere. Think again, right?


It’s a just a slump. I’ve spent time with many authors, good ones even, and they all have been through the same thing. I’ve even picked them for their methods of working through it and it turns out although some writers have a method that works particularly best for them, the methods are pretty much across the board. However, the resolution depends on how you got there in the first place. There seems to be two ways to get into a slump: not writing enough and writing until you’ve drained yourself completely. Here are what myself and other authors have come up with having ran into both situations at one time or another.

Pressing yourself too hard.

Have you set a 2000 word a day goal to complete after your eight hour day job work day ends, after the kids are in bed, after the husband is conked out… If you are spending lengthy amounts of time at the computer and still only reaching 1000 or ½ your daily goal each day it’s because you’re aiming too high. It’s more important to right 500 words of solid content a day than to write 5,000 words of content even yourself can’t get through without being woken by your own snores.

Or maybe you have been hitting 2,000 words a day for the past seven days. Or you’ve been hitting your goal consistently for two weeks now without a day off. Maybe it’s time for a break.

First, tell yourself congratulations for having enough determination to push yourself this hard and if you are still pushing yourself afterward take solace in this: Your endurance shows determination and commitment and will most likely lead to promising things, however, everyone, even writers need a day off. If a runner ran every day without allowing one day a week to allow their muscles to recover, there muscles actually begin to breakdown over time.

It’s time to gas up. Read some fiction. One of those books from your genre that you selected because it is what you strive for. Or watch a movie that makes you wish you’d written the script. I like The Town when my mind needs a rest but I can’t bear to part from “Imagination Land.” It always gets the gears turning.

Music is another great way to get through the slump. I like music from the 60’s and 70’s when I need something different. Otherwise I pop in Johnny Cash, Cake, or The Black Keys. I’d also recommend Two Steps From Hell. It’s instrumental, like the kind you here on a soundtrack, but it’s incredibly riveting, particularly if you write Fantasy genre or Sci-Fi.

Not Pressing Yourself Enough.

You haven’t set a goal. You wait for inspiration. Your too easily distracted by the nearby remote. Seriously?You do want to write, don’t you? Set yourself a goal that pressures you enough to sit down not and not put it off until later that is also accomplishable and regularly achievable so you don’t get into the previous situation. I’ve said before and stand by it, 1000 words a day is a reasonable, reachable goal for someone with other responsibilities. The more often you write, the more often inspiration will come. It may take a few days, but if you put the effort in, inspiration will come out of it. If you’re still having trouble getting the words to come, try some of the above mentioned tactics. They are sure to get the gears turning.

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