Sunday, 24 January 2010
I've just noticed it is NINE DAYS since I last posted here! *Hangs head in shame*
Please do not desert me faithful followers. I have been writing, I promise you, but getting a first draft down takes a lot of concentration and it's harder than usual at present. Not sure whether it's the weather or the post-Chrimbo lassitude but lots of folk seem to be struggling with the dreaded Writer's Block at the moment. I'm not blocked, let me hasten to add, but I do recognize the symptoms. Everyone gets jaded at times, usually at emotionally low points. But never forget the first rule: Writers Write. Every day you let things slide you are reinforcing the message to yourself that you are not a writer.
So how do you know if you have Writer's Block?
Here are some signs:
The thought of writing makes you feel tired.
You suddenly get the urge to clean the roof or clear out the garage.
Every time you sit at the keyboard you find yourself online instead.
When you finally manage to squeeze out a sentence you can't leave it alone; endlessly rewriting it to death until finally deciding it's rubbish and starting again.
The longer this goes on the more desperate and pressurised you feel. You get anxious and guilty as your confidence slips away. Why are you even trying, you ask yourself. You obviously have less talent for writing than a bath plug.
It's all very well making light of it, but this can become a crippling condition. Even successful authors have been known to suffer from it, feeling their prolific muse has deserted them for good. Helpful friends may advise you to take a break and that can work, just so long as you promise to start again after a set time period. If you don't you may find the break stretching and stretching into months. And every day that goes by reinforces your belief that you're just a big fraud and not a writer at all.
I am no expert but I have had my own dry periods over the years and all I can do is pass on the tips and advice that have helped me.
At times when my muse is elusive I often turn to poetry. Getting a feeling or an idea down in a verse or two can be helpful. It's short, so not too much like hard work, and more importantly it's fun. If you love language you'll love the challenge of wordplay. It can be just the thing to kick-start your enthusiasm.
Reading is always helpful. Read something beautifully written and it will inspire you. Alternatively read something trashy to prove to yourself you are not the worst writer in the world.
Most of all, remember that a first draft is, as Hemingway put it, shit. I stopped getting blocked when I realised this one liberating fact. No one will see your first draft, it's only you telling yourself the story. Most of it will end up in the bin so let yourself go and have fun when writing it. The hard part comes later when you have to shape it into something half decent, so enjoy this stage while you can.
Here is a great article which expands on this more eloquently than I. Print it and read it often, especially when those nasty little voices start whispering you're no good. It helped me and it will help you too.
Labels: writer's block