Sunday, February 27, 2011

Healing a Case of Writer's Block


I've heard this term many many times from novice writers, like myself, so I decided that this was an excellent topic to battle. Merriam-Webster.com (online dictionary) defines writer's block like this: a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece I believe quite firmly that writer's block isn't some disease or broken bone that physically prevents you from putting the pen to the paper, as some people seem to regard it. Writer's block is a "psychological inhibition" which means that you are mentally preventing yourself from doing it. Now why would we do that? There is a lot of different reasons, but I think the most common one, especially with teens, is fear. The fear of writing something wrong, or something dumb. The fear of being seen as an amateur. The fear of having their work rejected by peers, teachers, readers of your blog, publishers ect. It's better to have nothing new, than to have something new that's awful, right?

WRONG!

I recently heard a friend say this "Writing is a process", and I couldn't agree more. When you're writing don't think about how the finished product is going to turn out. Turn off that little editor who sits in your head saying, "Bad grammar, and poor description. FIX IT NOW!" The hardest, but most important thing to do is get the piece done, whether it's a blog post, an essay, or a story, it applies to all writing. The trick to avoiding writer's block is to never stop and analyze your work while you're still working on it. It's something all writers guilty of, especially me, and I can tell you from experience that doing that never leads to good. You start to see all your mistakes and feel discouraged, and end up not finishing. You must keep writing without worrying about the quality if you intend to finish something. After all, you can't revise something that isn't there.

So now that you have all this work that is probably a little less than great, you need to revise. Revision is how your piece turns out so nicely. Even professional writer's can't just spew out a perfect piece. So when you start analyzing your work and wondering if people will like your writing in the middle of a piece, stop and remember that revision is where the magic happens.

Another thing to remember is that writing takes practice. You're not going to become the next J.K. Rowling, or Stephan King overnight. This is going to sound very unlike me, but don't set your expectations unrealistically high. When you're constantly not meeting your goals you'll feel discouraged and writer's block will creep in. Be reasonable, make your goals challenging but don't make them impossible. For example, don't say "I'm going to write ten pages a day" or "Post a blog everyday", when you've only ever written two pages a day, or posted once a week. Setting achievable goals keeps writer's block away!

Now, the other popular reason for writer's block is: "I'm stuck. I don't know what to do next!" When you don't know what to do next in your piece remember your 4 "w's" (who, what, when, where) and your "h" (how) That should help you get the ball rolling again, especially if you're writing a story. Ask yourself questions like "How did my character feel about this?", "What are they going to do about it?", "Where is your character right now?", "Who's there with them?", "When are they going to do that thing they're supposed to?"

I hope this has helped you a bit! I know that I haven't covered everything, so I posted some links to helpful tips on writer's block on the "Helpful Links" page. Also, don't be afraid to share your thoughts in the comment section!

5 comments:

  1. I think setting achievable goals of daily writing is a good practice. Say, at least 500 or so words, even if all but 490 of those words is utter garbage, you need to have some self-discipline in these matters.
    like you said, its a process.

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  2. Destiny DiddlesworthMarch 1, 2011 at 9:04 PM

    Lovin' it Sunny! (:
    btw, you wrote "the 5 w's"...but theres only 4! (; sorry to be the pain!

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  3. lol:P thanks for the edit! Fixing it now:)

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  4. haha you're welcome. I realized that I sounded like a pain, but at the same time, I felt like I was helping! (:

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  5. Very well-made points! :) I'm not sure that the 4 "w"'s and the "H" question will help me in this case, but I know that I'll get through it. :) Webster's definition definitely covers it, doesn't it? Except you're right, there are two kinds of writer's block, so it's not ENTIRELY accurate.
    Anyway, just thought I'd share my thoughts.
    PS: Grammar Nazi that I am, I noticed that you said, "There is a lot of different reasons" instead of "There ARE..." toward the beginning. There were a couple other errors, too, but that was the biggie and I don't feel like going back and finding them. Just thought I'd let you know!

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