Friday, 17 October 2014

Writer's block... Are you buying it?

There are as many reasons for writer's block as there are writers but at the heart of it is often one simple fact... you don't buy it!


i'm not buying it
Are you buying it?

Writer’s block is so ubiquitous that it’s a cliché. Non-writers know about it, films have been made about it but we live it. We know how crushing it can be to watch the cursor blink, mocking us in our ineptitude, like a rabbit in the headlights. Everyone has some advice on how to deal with it and sometimes I feel like more has been penned on the subject than chain-smoking detectives. 


The fact is that there are a myriad of reasons for it, as individual as you are. It may be distractions, the kids screaming, Facebook, a tense moment in the book you are reading or piles. This is easy, disconnect, go to a haven, be it your private space or an anonymous café, apply cream and write. What I want to address is when you just can’t get your characters onto the next page, when you just aren't buying it. 

I was sat there recently, goaded by the cursor when I decided to take a break to regroup and battle on. I took myself onto the veranda for a smoke and started cruising goodreads looking for the next good thing to read. Instead of checking out the reviews, which is as helpful as it is baffling, I started with the back cover summaries. After two or three I got really hooked by one in particular David Wong's "John dies at the end. It didn't try to tell me anything, it spoke to me, it invited me in without summarising and I bought it. It made me think about my work and made me think about why I had seized; I didn't buy it. I had lost my connection with the story and the characters, characters I had loved and loathed. And if I didn't buy it why should you. I began to compose a pitch for my story, I tried to summarise it, I tried to describe it; I still wasn't buying it. Then I started selling it to myself inviting myself into the story and introducing myself to the characters not as written protagonists but as people as friends who were having a shitty time of it, friends like you. I am now back into it throwing them back into conflicts with each other then taunting them with saviour. My block has gone because I am buying it again and so will you.

There are so many reasons for seizure but confidence and involvement are at the root of many of them. Get beyond the page and stand shoulder to shoulder with your people and make their case for existence then get back into the frey. If you don’t buy the ride then no-one else will. 

Now, get back to it and write something you buy. Post a pitch in the comments, if you like.
      
Next time: How to find your way when your story has left you in the dark without a candle.
                       

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Note: The image above was borrowed from the anti-human trafficking campaign Traffick 911. Please lets not forget that slavery is unacceptable, irrelevant of where the person is taken from.    


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