Posted by jmdattilo
Okay. We’re sitting here staring at a blank page wondering how to write the next chapter in our book. The page is staring blankly back at us. Not a thing is coming to mind. (Or in our case, minds.) We look at each other, hoping for that most elusive of all writing tools. Inspiration.
What to do when inspiration packs its bags and heads for the door? This is the nemesis of every writer we have ever spoken to or read about. The dreaded brick wall that brings all writing to a halt and leaves even the most intrepid authors with the feeling they will never have another creative thought in this lifetime.
How can two writers fall victim to this malaise at the same time? Shouldn’t one of us be bursting with ideas even if the other is having, what is euphemistically termed, an off day? Here’s the awful truth: Writer’s block can be contagious.
Nothing is more discouraging than a writer with tons of ideas who runs smack up against a writer who is suffering from a full-blown case of writer’s block. Here’s an example.
ANNOYING WRITER: (Bouncing into the room.) All we all set write?
CRABBY WRITER: (Giving Annoying Writer a look that should have caused a quick retreat.) Sure.
ANNOYING WRITER: I can’t wait to begin. I’ve got this great idea for that scene we’ve been stuck on. I know just how to fix it! It’ll be great. You see the 7-foot tall monster is really not a monster at all but a nice guy who is just doing his job. What do you think?
CRABBY WRITER: (Closing eyes against the sight of so much enthusiasm.) Swell.
ANNOYING WRITER: Don’t you like it?
CRABBY WRITER: It won’t work.
ANNOYING WRITER: Why not? It’s perfect! You see, the monster looks scary but is really…
CRABBY WRITER: I know. But it won’t work.
ANNOYING WRITER: What’s wrong with it?
CRABBY WRITER: We need the monster to attack the hero. (Pointedly.) Remember?
ANNOYING WRITER: Oh. Um. Yeah. But…
CRABBY: WRITER: There’s supposed to be a battle. (Pointedly.) Remember?
ANNOYING WRITER: Oh. Um. Yeah. But…
CRABBY WRITER: It’s a key element of the plot. (Very pointedly.) REMEMBER?
ANNOYING WRITER: Well, yeah, but I thought…
CRABBY WRITER: If we make the monster a nice guy, we’d have to rewrite the entire chapter. The monster would have to show up and then back off and the hero would be left wondering… Hmmm.
LESS ANNOYING WRITER: Yeah. I see your point.
LESS CRABBY WRITER: Actually, if the monster did that it would create a little mystery.
HARDLY ANNOYING ANYMORE WRITER: Maybe.
HARDLY CRABBY ANYMORE WRITER: We could leave it hanging and then have the monster unexpectedly show up in a later chapter and explain what happened.
BECOMING CRABBY WRITER: Explain what happened? Why should he do that?
BECOMING ANNOYING WRITER: Because it turns out he’s really a nice guy who’s just doing his job.
NEWLY CRABBY WRITER: I thought you said that wouldn’t work!
NEWLY ANNOYING WRITER: Why not? I think it’s a great idea!
And so round and round we go.
Is there a cure for writer’s block? Sure. There are any number of suggestions on the web and in books for breaking the block. Try a change of scenery. Switch to brainstorming. Take a walk. Learn to crochet. Any one of these ideas might work. Once, at least. However, the single best method that we’ve found for getting out of writer’s block is to write. Seriously. Write. Anything. Just start. Who cares if it’s bad? Who cares if it doesn’t make sense? Just spit it out. Force yourself. Yes, we can already hear the writing gurus screaming. But this works for us. We don’t necessarily keep what we write this way, but it gets us unstuck without fail. Once we get the bad stuff out of the way, the blockage loosens and the good stuff can come through.
So what happens when we both are just bursting with great ideas? Two annoying writers, of course. Our family members may avoid us, but we’re both as happy as we can be wallowing in over-enthusiasm and excitement and the thrill of creating.
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