I decided to write this week’s blog about writer’s block. It’s scary. Since I can’t tell you why a conversation or a book will spur an idea, I also can’t tell you definitively how to fix it when ideas stop. Why pick this topic? I found myself not only blocked in my current story, but also for this week’s post. So, it seemed fitting.
No worse feeling exists than for every fiber itching to write but remain unable. July is monsoon month in Arizona. Don’t ask me why, but I bet if some program could calculate the total words I write throughout the year, it would show a dramatic spike in July and August. When the clouds plow over the mountaintops, the day turns dark like night, and the rain starts to pound the roof….nothing drives me faster. Currently, nature is working and I am not. I stare at a blank screen and nothing comes. Or I force a scene only to feel like pounding my head on the delete button over and over.
What are my typical causes? 1) Stress. My writing takes a hit in May and December when teaching consumes life. Nothing came during the year and a half of my master’s degree. 2) A problem within the story. This common problem has ranged from plot issues to the wrong point of view, and even the wrong setting. In the story I just finished, I almost didn’t write one particular scene. In it, I wanted the main character to have a confrontation with a former friend. I originally had a scene picked out for her amongst her friends. Only, it felt stifled. My first, impatient response was just to skip the scene. But, then I simple switched it to a conversation between her and the boy’s grandmother. Everything not only clicked into place but also created avenues and links I hadn’t even planned before. In another story, I wrote about eighty pages before coming to a complete standstill. I gave the partial manuscript to a good friend who read it and told me the point of view was wrong. I was telling the wrong story. I agreed that’s the reason for the block. 3) I block when out of practice. I haven’t written for a while and it becomes hard to get everything going again.
The cure? For the first and third, I have found the same cure: schedule time to write and make it a priority. Even if it’s not perfect, it’ll get easier/better. If nothing comes? I have been advice to write “I don’t know what to write” over and over. Never had the guts to try it, but let me know if it works! For the second, I have wonderful people who can talk me through. I think every writer should have this: whether it be family, avid readers, or other writers. Sometimes, we need outside help. Everyone has antidotes relating to their specific writing process. But, no matter what, remember to breathe and have faith everything will come back….remind me of this next week as I try to push through my current block!