It’s happened, people. I’ve hit a wall. The weird thing is that over the last few weeks, I’ve actually had a spike in writing productivity. I’ve started getting up 15 minutes early to write, and have been churning out as much as 350 words even in that quick little sitting. Combined with some evening writing, I did almost 2000 words last week, not counting blogging. That sounds like the opposite of writer’s block, doesn’t it?
Maybe it’s not so much a block on writing as it is on writing fiction. Every day gets me 24 hours closer to the end of my MFA program, and makes me that much more aware that I need to have a book written in order to graduate (yeah, it’s still a year and a half away. So what?). A book of short stories, polished and thoughtful and linked enough in theme or tone or whatever to nestle harmoniously with each other. It freaks me the heck out. And being freaked out is not conducive to creativity.
The words need to come regardless, though, so here are my top tips for when I’m in a funk. Maybe they will work for you as well!
1. Write something else. Nonfiction works best for me–retelling a story from my life in as engaging a way as I can. I can always change characters or details later to fictionalize it and give it better narrative flow.
2. Read the headlines. News is cool because journalists and editors have already cherry-picked the wildest characters and most intense stories. One way to get a different angle (so you’re not just writing a fictional version of the news article) is to imagine how the story affects a family member, friend, or ex-lover of whoever is in the news.
3. Do something radically different for a day: refuse to drive, paint yourself all over with henna, cross-dress, eat backward (dinner for breakfast, dessert for lunch, breakfast for dinner and lunch for dessert), and so on. Write a story about someone who does that every day. Why do they do it? What problems do they run into?
4. Start a story-writing group with your friends. Assign a genre, a key word that needs to appear in the story (the more incongruous the better), and a deadline. Now all your friends are going to have stories written! Sometimes writer’s block is a matter of getting a solid kick in the pants.
5. Go to asofterworld.com. Click the “fnord” button to go to a random strip. Write the expanded, story version of what the strip says.
6. Write a story using only one vowel. It is possible, and it’s like drinking water upside down to cure hiccups–weird, but effective.
Disclaimer: I have not actually tried #3 myself, but it seems like it would work. If you try it, let me know how it goes!
That’s what I have to offer. How do you beat writer’s block?