Writer’s Block

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Great.  Five days into 2012 and I’m sick.  And not just suffer through it sick, but go home from work and take the longest nap of my life sick.  Okay so maybe it wasn’t the longest nap of my life, but you get where I’m going with this, right?  Basically my head feels like it’s about to explode, my throat is swelling shut and exercising my creative side seems almost as hard as running a marathon.  On the flip side, I promised myself I would write creatively once a day in 2012 so instead of working on my novel or screenplay (that makes way too much sense and procrastination is my secret key to success) I’m trying my hand at discussing writer’s block.

No matter what way you look at it, writer’s block absolutely blows.  For me, it manifests in a strangely physical way.  My fingers start to hurt.  I sit in front of my blank computer screen, wanting nothing more than to start typing, but when no words start to flow, my fingers physically begin to ache.  Not cool.  Eventually my head begins to hurt and I start thinking that if I don’t clean my closet out in this exact moment, I might actually explode (see – procrastination rears its ugly head again).  I will say this – my apartment is never cleaner than on the days I have intense writer’s block.

Even this randomly rambling post is an attempt to feel just a tad bit better about the fact that I’ve been completely stuck on the same paragraph in a chapter of my novel for the past three days.  Chores are helpful, but I find that writing is the best way to overcome writer’s block.  Even if the writing is just a little sub-par (editing, re-editing and editing again later is a girl’s best friend).

We all know the adage – getting started is often the most difficult part.  So for those of you who may be interested in pushing yourself just a little harder or want to hurl yourself over the mountain of nerves staring you down and making you feel like you can’t put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard?) to start the writing process, I have put together a short list of guides who have helped me over the years:

Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery:

Sometimes finding that jumping off point can be awful.  If your mind is as blank as your computer screen, where do you pull the inspiration for a new piece?  I’ve found that trying to imitate another author’s style can be helpful.  It will also help you decide what you do and don’t like about your own writing.  Is this author’s style similar to your own or completely opposite?  If it’s similar – great!  Be inspired and write away!  If it’s dissimilar, push yourself to try to write something in that style anyway.  What can it hurt?  By the end of the exercise you’ll either have something totally unique and completely outside of your comfort zone or a new view on your own style of writing.  I suggest starting small.  Work with short fiction or poetry that can be confined to a page – two pages at the absolute max!  Read another author’s work and then play with the style, the themes, the characters.  How would you have written the piece?  Can you imagine continuing the story using the same characters?  Can you write on a completely different subject using the same style or rhyme scheme. Try some of the following for help –

The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. Princeton UP, 1993.

Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories.  W.W. Norton & Co., 1992.

You Have Time for This: Contemporary American Short-Short Stories.  Oologan, 2007.

Exercise Prompts:

Self-explanatory, right?  If you’re looking for a good book of exercises to start with – check out:

The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform Your Fiction.  Writer’s Digest Books, 2005.

Read:

The most obvious, but I think it can never be said enough.  Looking for inspiration?  Read as much as you possibly can!  When I come across a phrase or sentence that moves me it absolutely motivates me to write on my own.  I can’t stress enough the importance of reading as much as you possibly can to help influence and drive you in your own writing endeavors.

So here I am – one post further into my goal for 2012 and no closer to moving past that paragraph of my novel that’s been haunting me for days.  Alas, I do not fret, my friends.  Another 2012 goal is to finish the novel by the end of the year and as great as I am with procrastinating, I’m even better under a solid deadline.

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