Thursday, July 2, 2015

Mimi's Helpful Hints For Overcoming Writer's Block

HEY YOU!  Yes, I'm talking to you.  I have a question to ask.
Are you a writer? Well I am too.

 I am in the midst of a terrible dilemma, you see I was all Gung Ho, moving along smoothly in my story, then the next thing you know... BAM... I hit a wall. I had no idea what to do with the plot or how it even relates to the protagonist in my story. My favorite chair, which I bought a month ago, has become a curse, a bane to my inspiration, my get up and go. The Chair and I used to fit well together, however, 20 pounds and 30 bags of nachos later, I can hardly breathe in the stupid thing. Do you know what an emotional weight writer's block is, what kind of turmoil it causes? It's just awful. I have gone from being a simple couch potato to a blue ribbon winning super-sized couch spudzilla from sitting in this chair. I just keep growing in size, getting fatter and fatter by the day as I munch on my nachos. I am so tired, bored and depressed because I can't write. I can't write because I'm tired, bored and depressed. It's an endless cycle.

So how do I get my creativity back? Any suggestions?

DO NOT FEAR, WONDER WOMAN IS HERE... with some helpful advice.

If this scenario sounds familiar, here's how to get yourself going, how to hoist yourself out of that favorite chair. You won't even need a forklift. First, remove all those tempting treasures from your refrigerator and pantry.

Yes, that includes... THE NACHOS too.

Now here's a couple of easy to follow tips to get your mind and body moving so you can get back into that story.

1. EAVESDROP: Always carry a pen and pad. Try sitting next to, or even across the way from a person who has a cell phone glued to their ear. They usually talk loud enough to be heard across the room anyway. Also, pay attention at coffee-breaks or during your lunch hour at work. You can get enough dirt from random conversations to fill a best seller.

2. JOIN A MEET-UP GROUP: There are so many categories and plenty of conversations to glean from meeting with other writers and with other people period.

3. UTILIZE FAMILY GATHERINGS: Break out the old photo album. Jot down notes as relatives reminisce especially around the Christmas tree at holiday gatherings. This is great for writing a memoir, or even for finding a spark that will lead to a short story.

4. LISTEN TO THE NEWS: Current events may trigger your creative juices, like a murder, domestic violence story or an accident, even disastrous weather conditions or terrorist activities can stimulate the mind. The more you pay attention to what's going on, the more you can find to write about. Most of the best stories ever written are based on or around real events. The old adage is on point, 'truth is stranger than fiction.'

5. READ JOKES: They can give you anecdotes and ideas that can add humor to a story.

6. USE VISUAL PROMPTS: Look at a picture or a work of art and write about what you see or create a story from it.

7. EXERCISE: Walking is great for your health, and great for stimulating your brain too. Try taking different paths each day, so it doesn't become monotonous. You can speed up your walking or slow your pace down, based on your mood. You will feel more energetic and alert.

8. KEEP A DREAM JOURNAL: Some dreams are fresh in your mind when you wake up, so write them down, because you might not remember them later. Hmm... like our mouse thief stealing the piece of cheese, this could make a great children's story some day. Still makes me hungry for nachos and cheese though.

9. READ TRAVEL BROCHURES: This provides great material for blog writing, or for research for that international mystery novel you've always wanted to write.

10. GET INSPIRED: discuss your writing project with a close friend or someone you're comfortable with, let them give you some feed back and then take it from there. You'll be amazed how a fresh perspective, a new voice or some advice might help.

11. READ TOMBSTONES: Try to feel and imagine a family's grief when their loved one was buried. Try to understand the meaning behind the words that were engraved. Try to imagine what this marker says about the life of the person who inspired the tribute.

12. GO TO THE LIBRARY OR A BOOK STORE: Don't just read the contents of the books or magazines you peruse, look at the writing style of the author. Let them stir your imagination.

13. SOAP OPERAS: Practice describing each character, learn to understand why they are the villain and why they lasted so long in that series, what drives each character. This will help you with character and plot development.

14. WATCH JUDGE JUDY: Watch it for the courtroom scene, which might be helpful in one of your crime stories. Watch it to learn about the character of a judge, how they think and command the court. Watch it to gain insight into the emotions of the situation at hand, what drives people to need mediation. Watch it because it's a good show. JUST WATCH IT!!!

15. BE AN OBSERVER: Glean inspiration from participating in and observing life, it is the greatest inspiration of all. Look at the way people dress, walk and use hand gestures, watch facial expressions, how people speak, drive, and express love. Watch how children behave and how parents act toward their children. What do people do when they are alone? How they enjoy nature?

16. WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, USE WRITING PROMPTS: These are great story starters if you get stuck, and every writer does sooner or later. Prompts are great jump starters to the writing process. They will help you overcome writer's block. All you have to do is write down a couple of opening sentences and take it from there. In Stephen King's book about the writing process, On Writing, King challenged readers and fellow writers to use a story starter he devised, and even carved out a forum on his website so he could read and respond to stories people wrote from his starter. He wanted to see where fledgling writers imaginations would take his starter, what dark and different places they would go to. How many best sellers has Stephen King written? He's written 48 novels (plus a few non-fiction works and some collections), 34 of which have been best sellers. There's a man who knows how to beat writer's block, and he suggests using story starters in his book about the art of writing. Why? They work!

Here are a few examples:

a. "Yesterday I went to the movies and... "
b. "I knew as soon as I ended the relationship he would... "
c. "As she walked into the dim lighted hallway, she... "
d. "She suddenly turned at the sound of glass breaking... "
e. "She knew he was there waiting for her but... "
f. "She was going to accept his marriage proposal, but...
g. "Tomorrow I will go... "

There you have it, plenty of tips and tid-bits to get you through the dreaded writer's block. Maybe all of them won't work for you, but some of them are bound to. They will at least get your mind working and they will get you out of that chair. If nothing else, you'll get to watch Judge Judy, always entertaining, and you might get some dirt on your family members during the next holiday gathering. You can't beat that. Alright then. Time for me to hoist myself out of this chair. I have fastened a hitch to the poodle, but I don't think she has the strength to pull me up. I might need some outside help this time. Stupid nachos. On second thought, I don't love nachos at all, I despise them!

© 2015 Miriam B. Medina