Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Confidently Stuck: A lament on writer's block
• I remember I’m as poor a writer as I’ll ever be. If I work hard, the only direction is up.
• I’m the best writer I can be. Right here, in this moment, I am perfect.
• I staple Jane Yolen’s quote to my forehead: "Just write. If you have to make a choice, if you say, 'Oh well, I'm going to put the writing away until my children are grown,' then you don't really want to be a writer. If you want to be a writer, you do your writing. . . if you don't do it, you probably don't want to be a writer, you just want to have written and be famous -- which is very different."
• If Jane Yolen’s advice doesn’t work, I remind myself I can’t stop writing even if I want to, so I might as well embrace this part of me, judgment on my own talent set aside.
• I review this interview by Neil Gaiman on how he felt he wasn’t a good enough writer to write The Graveyard Book for many years. (He had the idea in 1985.) I have stories I feel that way about too. Boy, do I ever.
B. Stuck in the story.
• I skip the scene I’m stuck on and move to another, one I see clearly in my head.
• If I can’t skip ahead, I use Kevin Henke’s advice, and draw out the scene in illustration (or if you are drawing impaired like me, find pictures in magazines or online that inspire you to write on).
• I go back to my outline pages and rewrite them a third or fourth time. (Sometimes this is a list, sometimes this is a visual diagram of plots, characters, and subplots).
• I treat the book like I would the reorganization of a house: one piece of furniture, one pile of papers at a time. Baby steps, I remind myself, can lead to a finish line too.
So my Q4U: What creates your writer’s block? Or if you are not a writer, what stops you from accomplishing something you really want to finish?