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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Writer's Block? Unplug Your Mind

For some writers, writer's block can occur when you have too many ideas about how to write your masterpiece swirling around inside of your head. And, for a lot of writers, the crap of everyday life can be so distracting that every time you sit down to write, your mind is a total blank - or focused on everything else besides writing.

You're siting there - trying to focus and think about what you want to say and how you want to say it - and the next thing you know, you're staring into oblivion. Frozen with you eyes opened as big as saucers looking like a psychopath.

It's like the clutter of life and the clutter of ideas are not only making you feel lost and scatter-brained, but also making you look like you're a damn lunatic.

You can't accomplish much or be productive as you could be when your mind is worrying over chores, errands, and deadlines.

Even when the writing task is simple and you have an idea of what you want to say, this stuff - all these distractions - can ruin your motivation for writing.

Here's what you need to do:

First, use the simple formulas for writing in whatever genre it is that you're writing in.

If you enjoy writing reviews, go back to the basics.

If you writing a novel, go back to the basics.

Don't try to rethink or re-invent what already works. Why make your work harder than it should be?

Use mind maps, outlines, timelines if you're not sure what to say - just make sure that the events and situations are in the order they're supposed to be in, connected, and relevant.

Stop over-researching and start writing. A good friend of mine was working on a novel about a Cyborg who was on the run from her creators and after she starting researching robotic technology, she couldn't stop researching more about the technology. Now, she has writer's block and don't know what to do with all of that information she's collected.

Research is a good thing but sometimes you need to ask yourself:

"What does my reader really need to know?" or "What information doesn't matter?"

You don't have to go into so much detail all the time. You may end up creating a long boring technical book or article that no one will want to read.

Also... Give yourself a day to NOT think about writing - if you get ideas, so be it. But, plan to relax. On the seventh day, take a rest. Take some time out to de-stress your life - and, your brain.

Stop trying to be fancy and just write the events out in order as they should happen. You can always rewrite later. If you've got some momentum going, don't slow down with thoughts about how to say this or that, keep writing until you run out of steam. Edit later.

Get rid of clutter and distractions that turn you off. If you're surrounded by a mess and it's making you sick to your stomach, get rid of it. I know it can be overwhelming and you may not feel like cleaning and moving stuff around, so just do a section at a time. Stop hanging on to some of that garbage and throw it out or give it away. If you can't part with it, organize it.

Some people accumulate all kinds of stuff in order to be inspired or motivated and end up with a lot of crap on their hands. Some of that stuff they get for research and have never used it since they bought it ten or twenty years ago.

Get rid of that junk. If you can't do it all at once, try a little at a time. But, the only thing that stuff is doing is weighing you down and holding you back. It's a distraction to your writing you don't need.

When creating a schedule, it's not enough to just "write in blocks" or "set some time aside to write". Organize and plan your writing schedule. Know what you want to write about or research each day. And, you don't have to do research every day. One day you may want to work on your characters. One day, you may want to list the various events in one of your chapters. Another day, you might want to work on revising some of the language - or, organize your photos for illustrations.

Have certain days and certain hours that you do certain things towards the development of your project. And, if you have the energy and drive to do extra, that's a bonus.

Keep every day (and every task) as simple as possible.

Immerse yourself in writing so that it becomes natural and doesn't require so much thought. Read books similar to your genre and let the ideas come to You. Hang out with other writers, artists, and producers - People who are creative, driven, and love what they do.

Watch movies or TV shows about a similar time or theme and learn the language so that you will be able to present your material clearly and naturally. This is leaning towards research, but again: Don't over-think or over-analyze the material. And, by all means, if you start to get hooked on those shows and you're doing more "watching" than writing, then turn the TV off.

I know I'm getting long-winded, but the last thing I want to mention is: Don't try to be perfect.

I know you want to create something most people will enjoy, but the key to getting in the game is getting off the starting line. People will never get the chance to enjoy your work or know how talented you are if you never get in the game and show them what you can do. So, don't try to be perfect right off the bat. Create, revise, then tell the story the way it ought to be told.

All of this worrying about what to do next or write next and having doubts about your writing only adds to drama and confusion in your life AND in your life as a writer.

Stop thinking about it and just do it.