Posts Tagged ‘writer’s block’

Why Does Writing Have to Seem So Hard?

April 8, 2015

old typewriterOLD TYPEWRITER – photo courtesy Pixabay

When you’re having a difficult time writing and the words you want just don’t seem to find their way out of your head, you sometimes ask yourself … what’s the point?

I thought I was past my momentary writers block … but after only 1,500-or-so words I got stuck again this week.

No problem, right? I’ve been there before and worked my way out of it. The words eventually start flowing again.

So, I brewed a second cup of coffee, took a deep breath and stared at my computer screen. Typed a sentence. Deleted it.

Sipped my coffee. Wrote a new sentence and almost immediately deleted it. Paused. Rubbed my eyes. Scratched my head. Typed a third sentence. Deleted that one, too.

Repeated the whole sequence many times in the course of the next two hours and got some results I kept … a total of 27 words.

Less than one-quarter of a word per minute. Oh well. Been there, done that. I know it will eventually click. I just hope it does before my self-imposed deadline gets here.

At least I’m more environmentally conscious these days. I used to do all this using reams of paper.

Writing, ripping sheets from the platen and tossing crumpled paper pages from an old Royal or Smith-Corona until the wastebasket overflowed and threatened to engulf the room.

Royal? Smith-Corona?

You know, one of those tools youngsters only see these days in retro films (or in their grandparents’ closets). A typewriter.

Now I use a laptop. No paper waste, but the writer’s block is still writer’s block.

Sigh. Click to read more

What’s the Main Task of a Storyteller?

March 27, 2015


I recently came back from Punta Cana, in the Dominican Republic (I know … tough duty, but someone’s got to do it).

My bride and I met our eldest son and his family there for a week. I enjoyed seeing them all and relished the opportunity it gave me to recharge my batteries. Now, back to business.

In my last post you heard me grouse again about my writer’s block. It’s safe to say most of that has passed. But I’m still struggling to get my latest novel written and edited by the end of May.

Why? Because I want to submit it to this year’s Readers Favorite contest for review.

Why Do I Bother?
I watched the movie “Birdman” here at home on Tuesday with my wife and youngest son.

Michael Keaton plays a former movie star/action-hero (Birdman) named Riggin Thomas, who opted out of the franchise and hasn’t had much movie success since.

The Thomas character has supposedly adapted the Raymond Carver story “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” for Broadway; writing and directing the play in the hopes it will revitalize his career.

One of my favorite scenes featured Edward Norton, who plays an actor named Michael Shiner, a not-so-very-likable-character. In this scene he defends Thomas to Tabitha Dickinsen (played by Lindsay Duncan), a smarmy theater critic he sees sitting in a bar.

“He’s taking a chance. He’s willing to lose everything for this. What are you willing to lose?”

I think Tabitha, a character name undoubtedly chosen for its witch-like associations, serves a twin narrative purpose.

The first is to serve as a convenient antagonist. Her character has apparently decided in advance to give the play a lousy review, so she embodies evil incarnate.

The second is to highlight the purpose real critics have served for as long as there has been a creative process: the need for validation. It’s something the Michael Keaton character desperately needs to preserve his own creative sanity.
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Why Do I Have to Write Today?

March 5, 2015

mountain climb

It never seems to fail. Just when I think things are going well, the ideas stop. My thousand-words-a-day mantra becomes Why do I have to write today? Even the podcast I’m working on has stalled. It feels like I’m climbing a mountain.

Writer’s block again.

I’m 32,000 words into my next novel, Street Light … the final book in my trilogy … and once again I’m stumped.

Where are these characters going?

At the moment, I can’t answer that. I know where I want them to end up, but how are they going to get there?

I also have the questions for my podcast so many Gentle Readers submitted about the craft of writing, and I know how I’m going to answer them. But I can’t seem to get started.

The Creative Spark
I’ve read a lot of advice about how to spark creativity … and I’ve written about it here.

However, everyone’s creativity takes a different form, so advice that works varies from person to person. Creativity often involves play, digression, experimentation and failed attempts.

It doesn’t always look productive.

I’ve discovered that creativity can be a strange, elusive creature. Sometimes it’s a river flowing so fast I can’t keep up with it. At other times it feels like the river’s caked and parched, all dried up with life-giving water nowhere to be found.

That’s when I take time to explore, try to meet new people (or old friends I haven’t seen in a long time, like I did last week), or read a book by an author I enjoy. Sometimes I just listen to music I like (for me, that’s Bob Seger or Creedence, thank you).

If you’re anything like me, you’re often set on a specific way of doing things and that’s not always good for creativity. Creativity is all about those new, unexplored ideas … and you can’t explore new ideas if your mind is closed by impossibilities.

I find doing something just a little different can set off a creative spark and generate fresh ideas I hadn’t thought about before.

Follow My Interests
Instead of focusing on what I “ought” to be doing, I allow myself to wander. Sometimes by buying an odd book, poking around the internet, or exploring an unusual place.

I’ve always been an avid reader. Some authors claim they can’t read while they’re writing, but I don’t try to curb my reading impulses. Right now I’m discovering everything that new friend Brad Meltzer has ever written about political intrigue. I find good writing is inspiring, all by itself.

I’ve found, too, that reading their stories aloud to my grandchildren (or having them read to me) inspires me, sets a good example and just might inspire them, too … which is a very good thing.
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