Help! I’m blocked!

writers-block1-1Writer’s block is the writer’s arch enemy.

And though it can be solved, one of the problems is that it takes faith to believe it can be overcome and it does take work.

Someone, recently, asked me how to get over a block and I gave him the following advice. He responded, “that’s too hard!”

Too hard???

If you want to get through a block – you have to push. If you are not willing to do the work, then why are you here?

One way – and it is just one idea – to get through writer’s block is to write your way out of it.

Use a separate document, handwrite it, get out of the story you’re working on and write somewhere else – but write, and keep writing – it might take you ten pages to get to where you need to be, and you might get two or three good pages out of that – but guess what, you will have written yourself out of the block.692757fb38878f2d80969e191c54a4cc

Ten pages not enough? Still feeling blocked? Keep writing!

Think of it this way –  something is in your way. If you were driving somewhere and the road was blocked, would you turn around and go home, go back to bed, and give up? Or would you use mapquest to find a different way to get there.

Something is in your writing way, get off that street (document), look at mapquest (other ideas, roads, methods, ways), and get moving.

 

This is a GREAT BOOK!!!

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Descending into Madness…

logo1-the-descent-into-madnessSometimes, that’s what writing feels like.

I recently finished a particularly difficult story. I’d written it over the summer. Then life happened, and while I wrote here and there and started new things, finished other things, submitted, and even came back to this story repeatedly, it refused to be finished.

This story became the terrible twos who kept throwing a spoon down on the floor and crying for me to pick it up only to throw it down again.

When my real children did this – I left the spoon on the floor and shrugged, “guess you’re using your fingers now,” but you can’t do that with a story, huh?

But what you can do with the story – as with all writing – is keep showing up. That’s what I did. I kept putting that story in front of me and trying to work out of the kinks. We can’t give up the story when it gets hard.

One of my favorite stories is one Stephen King tells about Carrie. I’m paraphrasing here: His wife found Carrie in the trash and brought it back to him, saying something to the effect, you can’t stop just because it got hard.

(of course these are the days when we used typewriters or notebooks and were able to physically put those in the trash and not just click delete, which, by the way, don’t ever do!  Ignore the story, put it elsewhere, but don’t delete it!)

And I’ve read/heard the above King/Carrie story a few different ways, so it may not be exact; however, the point is – You can’t give up a story because it’s hard.

Even if the story never gets published – I learned something by writing it, by sticking it out.

The new term in student success is “Grit.”  (I know, it’s also an old John Wayne movie). It alludes to the idea that the students who struggle and push through who will become a successful student and graduate. It applies across the board – school, life, and definitely writing! (Not surprisingly, to that movie as well).

I recall another story I’d had a particularly challenging time with. And just when I thought it was finished – the dreaded blue screen!  It was gone. Memory wiped. I gave it a few weeks (and a long weekend in New Orleans) and came back at it.  “Psychic Surprise Party” was published six months later in The Oleander Review. (It will be republished in May online).

Even if this one is never published, I learned something by doing it. I’ve learned something in all of these not-yet-published stories and poems. We are writers. We are driven to write. It is our little corner of the puzzle-solving-world in which we exist.

The next one might be easier. And maybe it’s smilethis challenging one that will push something out of the way for the next one. Maybe the next one will be difficult too, but we’re going somewhere, learning something – keep pushing through.

That’s what makes us writers.

And we’re all a little mad here…..

 

 

 

 

 

To Publish or not to Publish – is that really a question?

To some people it is.

I have a friend who picks and chooses where he wants to be published so carefully that he submits maybe once or twice a year at most. He hasn’t been published in maybe 6 or 8 years.

He’s an extremely good writer. Better than I.  colllins

He says, he wants to only be published where his name will be seen, where it will matter.

I took this to mean he didn’t approve of my many publications with small presses, some of which no one has ever heard.

What do you value and why? Ask yourself.

Billy Collins, btw, began publishing in what he refers to as fly by night or small presses of which no one ever heard.

 

Monday Motivation

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Photo Credit:

Margaret Atwood says that although many people think there are no original ideas, that one makes stories new by subverting the ideas.

She is the mistress of subverting the usual.

I’ve read at least thirty different version of Red Riding Hood, same with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty etc. In one of the Cinderella stories, she actually runs away from home and sleeps in a tree, making her own dress, and sneaking into the castle for the ball. I love this story, she’s very much an agent of her own change – making decisions which will serve her best.

Is there a fairy tale you can rewrite?

If you’re stuck – subvert the hero/heroine.  Maybe the princess pretends to be asleep because she’s really quite lazy and likes people waiting on her. Who finds out? What do they do? You’ll have an unlikable character – so whoever finds out will need to be the hero or heroine.

Good luck – feel free to share your ideas in the 365 Facebook Group

Write Lightening

How did the three blind mice meet?

Why were they chasing the farmer’s wife?

Go – Write it!

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Neil Gaiman

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Don’t you agree?