Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Writer’s block. Some say it doesn’t exist. I beg to differ. 
It’s true that some writers keep on writing in spite of lack of inspiration, family woes, or depression. I’m not one of them. 
Here are a few suggestions I’ve found helpful: 

  1. Pray. Okay, this seems obvious, but I can’t tell you the number of times I haven’t taken my writing problems to God. He cares about our problems, even the ones that aren’t shake-up-my-life ones.
  2. Recognize that it’s okay not to write for a while. Life happens. I’ve been sick, watched my mother decline in the last stages of her life, and experienced the winter curse of Seasonal Affective Disorder. God doesn’t expect His children to be automatons. When my mother lived in a nursing home for over six years, sometimes the best I could manage was a blog post. 
  3. Fear is a big component of writer’s block. It can dominate your thinking. I can’t face a blank page. I have nothing to say. The story is going nowhere, and so am I. Open that Word document and congratulate yourself for “showing up at the page.” Sometimes that’s as far as I can get before my fingers wander to my favorite computer game.  
  4. Write ten words. Ten words. You can handle that. It seems lame, but it can get those juices flowing.  
  5. When I’m in the rough-draft phase of a novel, I hate what I’m writing. The story’s lousy. Here’s some good news: It’s supposed to be lousy. The first draft may be as rough as an unpaved road, but get it down on paper. You can’t revise something that stays in your head. 
  6. Got creativity? No? God is the ultimate Creator. Look at a giraffe compared to a panda or a sunset compared to a thunderstorm. Trust God to instill a little of His creativity in you.
  7. One reason for writer’s block is that we’ve run dry. Fill up the well. Take two hours, just you and yourself. Visit a museum, read in a park, or take a walk. And be deliberately present in the moment. The purpose is to drink in the beauty, not to worry about your writer’s block. 
  8. Journal. Write whatever comes to mind, whether you’re worried about the plot of your WIP or whether you’re certain that the perennials in your garden won’t come back next year. Admit your worries in written form and get them out of the way.  
  9. Read. Read writing books but inspirational ones, not how-tos. The Artist’s Way is excellent and one I’ve re-read several times. Be prepared to work through I-don’t-want-be-honest-with-myself questions over a twelve-week period. Other resources include Bird by Bird by Ann Lamont and Madeleine L’Engle Herself compiled by Carole F. Chase. And by all means read fiction, both inside and outside your preferred genre. 
  10. Play with a Slinky. Seriously. A former editor with Writer’s Digest claimed that a Slinky break helped. 
I wrote my debut novel, Dark Biology, with various amounts of Velcro stuck to my back. I didn’t always rip it free quickly. But by God’s grace, I finished the book.
Writer’s block isn’t forever. Be patient with yourself, take a deep breath, and wrench yourself from the Velcro, one hook at a time.

Bonnie Doran’s heart is in science fiction. She enjoys reading,
cooking, solving Sudoku puzzles, and telling groan-producing puns. Her husband of thirty years is an electrical engineer. They live in Denver with two Siamese cats. 

Media Links:

Website: Where Faith and Science Fiction Collide: http://www.bonniedoranbooks.com/
Twitter: @bonniedoran
Twitter hashtag: #DarkBiology 

Come back Friday for a chance to win a copy of Bonnie's book!


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