Please welcome Lydia Sharp, who was one of our FINALSTS in WU’s search for an unpubbed contributor. She wrote:
I wrote my first “book” in second grade (of my own initiative, not through the school curriculum); entered a state level short story contest in third grade; studied poetry, literature, and screenwriting in high school; and wrote several short stories all through my school years. Then Real Life got in the way, and I’m sure everyone is going to say that, too. It happens. The writing bug bit me again in early 2008. This was when I started viewing it as something I could do professionally, and set out to learn all that I could about the business and the craft. I’ve been continuing that self-education ever since, in addition to writing novel-length and short fiction.
Lydia’s post charmed us, as did her honest side note about how she’d had a hard time coming up with a topic to blog about for us.
A brief note about why I chose this topic. I was stressing out big time because I had an abundance of ideas and zero focus. I was blocked, and I know this is a common problem, so I wrote about what works for me. This article was the result.
Defeat the Wicked Witch of Writer’s Block
Click your heels together three times and repeat after me: There is no such thing as writer’s block, there is no such thing as writer’s block, there is no such thing as–
Sorry, Glinda, it didn’t work. The page is still blank, and the cursor is mocking me in perfect rhythm.
…are not alone.
All of us encounter obstacles that hinder our progress in some way. We call it writer’s block because we don’t know what else to call it. And for lack of a better phrase (because if we had any semblance of creativity within us at that point, there wouldn’t be a problem to begin with), we blame our absence of epiphanic brilliance on an abstract, um, something-or-other.
See. It hit me just now. You are my witnesses.
Writer’s block is an equal-opportunity destroyer of dreams. It does not care whether you’re writing your first novel or your tenth. Or if you write full-time or part-time. It doesn’t even care if you’re writing a novel, a short story, a poem, a query letter, a synopsis, or a blog post. It is one of the main reasons why some aspiring authors give up on writing altogether.
Don’t become a victim, Dorothy. You can melt the wicked witch of writer’s block with a few helpful tips from the Wizard.
Are you a scarecrow? All you need is a brain.
I’ll admit that I fall under the category of brainless far too often. There are times I must immerse myself in research, or pull out an old story and do line edits, in order to refresh. This is the result of a right brain/left brain imbalance. The scales are tipped, and equilibrium can only be achieved by adding to our noncreative side. Fact begets fiction.
Any tin men out there? Take care of your heart.
We often put too much pressure on our hearts to write a perfect first draft, forgetting that the beautiful story we crafted in a previous project was the result of months, or even years, of revisions. Or a deadline looms and we question our skills. In these instances, it seems like everything we write is worthy of only one thing: the delete key. Your heart needs relief from the pressure. Do something completely unrelated to writing. Go for a run, wash the dishes (yes, manually… it worked for Agatha Christie), play piano, etc., then return to your project recharged.
For the cowardly lions, a good dose of courage will keep you from shrinking back.
Fear is one of the biggest stumbling blocks, and fear of success can be as crippling as fear of failure. The best way I’ve found to get over any fear is to lean on the support of those who truly believe in you. Analyze your home team. Is the foundation weak in any areas? A strong beam will hold you up through both fair weather and storms, and uses solid reasoning to do so. This can bolster your motivation to finish a project, then see it through to the next step, and the next one, and the next one.
And if the Wizard promises you high-flying success, then takes off in the balloon without you, just remember who is wearing the ruby slippers. You have the power. Now click your heels together three times and repeat after me: There is no such thing as writer’s block.
Photo courtesy Flickr’s eyeliam