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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cures for Writer's Block

About Writer's Block...

A young writer asked me what to do about writer's block. I've posted on this before, but maybe you're finding yourself stuck right now. Hope these suggestions help.

1. Make sure you've been getting enough sleep and aren't wired up on caffeine. Often lack of ideas is the direct result of a too-tired mind or one that is over stimulated.

2. Try outlining. Seat of the pants writers, God bless 'em, are great but much more likely to get blocked because they simply have no idea what will come next. Take a day, a week, a month and do nothing but outline the major actions of the movie. Then, when you go to produce the manuscript, BAM, you've got the structure right there.

3. Do a "pride check." Often writers block is you being too much of a perfectionist you want it just right the first time. No chance. Let the story come, no matter how dumb it seems. That's what editing is for.

4. Do a "Lazy-Me-Check." Similar to trying to be to perfect is being too lazy to want to do several drafts, so you get too careful. In order to avoid the extra work, you go too slowly and get very annoyed when it's not just right. Again, let it come.

5. Get out of the Driver's Seat. The best stories are character driven, meaning the distinct and colorful personalities of your characters should dictate which way the story should go. If you're having too much trouble deciding what should happen next, take a break and write up some character profiles. Who are these people? I mean, REALLY, who are they? Go deep. What's their life story? What scares them? How have they hurt in the past? Who do they like, not like, trust, distrust, etc.

6. Read in your genre. If you are writing a mystery, read mysteries. If fantasy, read my books. {ahem}. Seriously, immerse yourself in the genre and you'd be surprised what ideas pop into your mind. Plus, you get the added benefit of seeing what's out there being published so that you can do something original.

7. The best for last: Pray. I know not all the visitors here are Christian, but for those who are, pray and ask God to place some ideas in your mind. Lord, is there a story you want me to tell?