Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Long Wait: Writer's Block

Years ago, I saw a newspaper ad inviting folks to come to a "writer's support group". I went to the meeting, excited and curious. Bettye, the support group's hostess, told us the goal was to get everybody writing and publishing. Cool. I started to feel uneasy when Bettye asked us all to do some writing exercises. Why would a critique group need writing exercises? I got really concerned when Bettye announced that someday, as a special treat, she'd invite her therapist to be a guest speaker.

It turned out I was attending a "writer's block support group", not a general "writer's support group". I disengaged just as soon as I politely could.

I do get writer's block sometimes. But I wouldn't have a future in writing if I needed a therapist to fix it. In my experience, the nature of the block dissolution depends on my reason (excuse). So herewith are a few home remedies for the block. They are not therapist endorsed.

Excuse: I don't have time. I have other things I should do. I'm tired.
Solution: Set the kitchen timer for an hour or so, and write until the timer goes ding-ding.

Excuse: I don't know what's going to happen next. I'm confused. Who is my protagonist? This book is too boring for words. Who do I kill off? My plot is illogical. What is my world like?
Solution: Go get a pad of paper, lie down, and daydream without editing. Brainstorm without censor. Write down options. Read your ideas later to get fresh direction.

Excuse: My mind is blank. I'm afraid. I'm tied up like that man in The Long Wait book cover.
Solution: Bring up a nice white computer screen and start writing what's inside your head. Stream of consciousness, or observations of the world around you. Or perhaps you can update your blog?

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