Friday, January 28, 2011

Writer's Block

Somebody posted about writer's block on the Naermyth Facebook page this week and it kind of reminded me of my occasional rut when Naermyth was in production. Some lasted for weeks and one was so bad I filled a whole chapter with NaBuCAT ordinances and protocol procedures (snore-fest) just so I could still keep my mind in Athena's. What's terrible about writer's block - especially for a story where it's written in first person - is that I tend to lose the character's voice, sometimes coming back with Athena sounding like a Disney princess on PMS. I wrote Naermyth while I was in law school, so naturally it was hard to find the time. Then again, writing was my escape from memorizing, oral recitations and a bombardment of legal text, and a sort of reminder that no matter how bad my recit went, there's a girl out there dealing with mythical creatures running amok. I guess it was easy for me then because writing was my heroine. I needed the fix after a long stressful day.  But most imporantly, what helped my writing on such a busy schedule was -well, just that: the schedule. I had to work my writing in like one of my law subjects. An hour a day, at the least. And of course, as a general rule, I keep a notebook in handy for thoughts or sudden sparks of inspiration in my bag. Always finding a reason not to study, I'd whip out the notebook a few minutes between classes and write something. (or the back of on of my handout's where I'd write paragraphs of dialogue horizontally, vertically and diagonally. One time in a circle on a credit card receipt where i couldn't write over the amount due.)

Then came the times when I just couldn't dish anything out. I'd scower the internet "how to get through writer's block", and by God, there's no ONE way. The most commonly suggested was to step away from your work. That would work for me for a while, but then I lose interest all together and the story's just sitting there accumulating dust. Others say to just keep writing. Write another part. Write something exciting so you'll have the motivation to go back to the boring parts.

okay, side note: one of the rules I go by when writing is: if it's boring for you, it will be boring for the reader. Honestly, who wants to hear about NaBuCAT's legal jargon and detailed hierarchy of penalties? NOBODY... so here's the rule again: when against a dull point where -perhaps- lots of whatnot are involved - write out what's necessary for the story and move on.

But one method that's always worked for me was research. I'd go online or visit the library for inspiration. I let my curiosity lead me through it, reading for pleasure rather than constructing a list of related literature. And, if something from a book sparks my interest, I read more on that, take down notes and see how and if it helps the story.

alright, another rule of mine... it's best if you don't write something so you can incorporate an interesting fact you've read, but you should search for something that best suits the story. I spent weeks figuring out how I could get Einstein's theory of Relativity into the novel because I thought it was cool! (if you're wondering what the hell Einstein has to do with Naermyth, then you might want to know that his Theory of relativity incorporated, or rather modified, the Newtonian notion of Aether :D ). What a train wreck that would have been!

Another method was to draw to get out of writer's block. I work best when visuals are involved. I get to see the scene with my own eyes and, if I had enough chocolate that day, the characters would take on a life of their own and move for me, telling what to do next, where they should go, what kind of swagger they'd take with them to the next paragraph. 

Trivia: Naermyth started out as a comic :D  

Sometimes, my writer's block got so out of hand that I'd draw on the walls, embellishing sketches of River or Dorian and filling in bubble quotes all around their heads with washable crayon.  Other times I'd coax a conversation I'm having with my sister to sound like a conversation Athena would have with Dorian and see how that would turn out. (When Dorian and Athena would fight over saving each others' lives, my sister and I would fight over the last piece if dark chocolate. I gave it to her, because it was my way of saying "I'll save your life even if i have to fight a hundred Naermyth!" You see people... I love choco.)

So it all comes down to one thing: writer's block is INTERNAL. Whatever is blocking your creativity is a problem you have to solve. You have to find your own way. My ridiculous methods might work for you (or they'll send you cursing a box of crayons like it was the devil's writing tool). Otherwise, try something else. Go out. Eat. Watch a movie. Shut yourself in your room until you get something. Whatever works for you, find it. Because if you want to be a serious writer, you have to be prepared for creative shutdown. The pen is not the writer's only weapon, guys. Sometimes it takes another weapon of your choice. Who knows, it could be washable crayon. 

words from the unwise....

:D -K

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