I bet that subject line made you think I was going to make you gaze into a crystal ball or maybe conduct a seance. I'm not, but it would be super cool if we did. Think of all the wonderful creative minds we could probe! Would love a chance to chat with Chaucer myself...
But I'm getting WAY off the rails here. Let me start over again.
Now, pay attention...Writers.
We get stuck.
We get furious.
We get sad.
We channel about a few hundred million emotions just as we sit and stare at a blank page in front of us for a handful of minutes.
We know what we're supposed to be doing but sometimes the words just don't come.
Everyone does it. Er well, specifically, every writer does it. So, when it happens to you, DON'T PANIC. You're in terrific company whether in the physical realm or the spiritual realm. (I'm positive even the great William Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer had bouts of Writer's Block.)
Ooooooh! I said it!
Yep. And I'll say it again, I'm sure. It's a nasty problem we all have, sort of like sneeze pees from women that have given birth. We'll be going along fine and then, all of a sudden, ACHOO! and our brain decides we are too dumb to be a writer so it shuts down. It's nothing to be ashamed of - IT'S NOT!
*Gives the class a stern look*
The thing you have to remember is how to get around it, or through it, or dance on it's grave, or whatever you need to do to make the words come again. This is what I meant by that scary looking subject line - channeling your creativity in a manner to spur you through the blockage.
I know a thing or two because, I'll be honest with you all, I've only just come off nearly a year where I couldn't write much more than a handful of sentences on any given manuscript.
- The good news is, I've started sixteen new manuscripts.
- The bad news is, I have five chapters or less on all of them.
- The better news is, I've cracked my block. (Not my head, obviously, but honestly, I think if my head were cracked it may have made things easier...)
Over this summer alone (from May through July) I've written six picture books and a dozen short stories. I've also started the editing nightmare on a new middle grade horror and finished and started querying a nonfiction proposal under my pen name.
How did I do that?
I channelled my creativity. HA! I bet you saw that one coming.
What and how does one channel their creativity?
It's easy - mix things up.
- Try your hand at Feng Shui
- Learn to sew
- Crochet a baby blanket
- Go for a walk and stare at clouds trying to decipher what shapes you seen in them...
I've completely redecorated my hobby cabin, gone through books and donated loads to local libraries and used book shops, painted, sewed, crocheted and more over this last year. I sure didn't know that I could crochet purses and handbags, but I can (and have even managed to sell a few to the neighbours - the grand total of $30 went to buying more yarn, but still!).
Writing is essentially your imagination in words, put out there so other people can see it. It's a writer's imagination on steroids.
What happens with Writer's Block is that your imagination has too much stimuli. Too much is attacking it from every which way and it can't process the stimuli in a normal manner. Which, in an essence, puts your imagination on the defensive and it starts slowing down and eventually stops to avoid the assault.
You can fix this by stepping away.
Take a nap.
You see what I'm doing here?
Forcing your imagination to focus on something that doesn't involve words will give it time to rest and hopefully, after a couple of days of avoiding wordsy-type imagination, it'll be ready to accept words again.
But like anyone with a sickness, I advise not jumping into the full-versed novel straightaway. Nurture your imagination with something short and sweet and work your way back up. If flash fiction is your thing, try it again. Move from that to a short story and then, finally, if your imagination is still cooperating, jump back into the novel in progress.
If you're like me and would rather revise and edit than write fresh words, the same sort of stuff applies. Start slowly, do a page, then a second page, then a chapter. Remember:
SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE.
Through all of it, READ! READ! READ!
Read the backs of cereal boxes if you must, but READ!
*Heaves for a breath*
Now, if your imagination isn't quite ready to work with words again - BACK. OFF.
Go get back to stitching a new pair of pants or painting your walls copper or sketching a self-portrait. Try again in a few days. If you can still write, say flash fiction, then keep writing it. Switch to writing a new scene of your novel in progress in the flash fiction style. Slowly work forward and before long, you'll have a brand new shiny manuscript.
Heidi Norrod is a mother, a writer and a linguist. Based in Tennessee, USA, the word wizard spends most of her time helping fellow creatives realise their goals and dreams while teaching, translating and toughing it out in the great outdoors. You can follow Heidi on Twitter and on her blog here.