You sit down at your computer, and pull up a word document, excited to see what comes out today. There’s a certain scene that really needs to be written and you’re determined to write it. You’re ready. And then it happens. That horrible feeling that sometimes comes when we sit down and stare at the computer screen. We keep telling our brains to come up with something. We tell our fingers to start typing something. We stop caring what it is as long as it’s something!
But the screen stays as blank as your mind and you smack your forehead against the desk that you’re sitting next to.
“Why, brain, why?” You yell in your head. After all, it kept you up last night writing a scene without your permission at a time when you didn’t have even a notepad nearby. And you’d already taken out your contacts and all the lights were out and you just couldn’t write right then. But your brain didn’t care. It was active then and now it’s a blank slate and you’re out of chalk.
So what do you do? You could do what I do. Rant to your friend about the unfairness of the situation, bash your head against the wall (which really hurts, since you already smacked it against the desk), and then close your computer and give up.
But that’s a bad idea.
You could do what I want to do in the future. Rant to your friend about the unfairness of the situation, and listen to her suggestions. Latch onto one of them and roll with it. It doesn’t have to be amazingly poetic, we’re talking a rough draft here, not becoming Emily Dickinson on your first try, but it does need to get down on paper (or computer screen, whichever). Often times, I’ll find that if I can force myself to write, even when I can’t think of anything to write about, my brain will reset itself and catch up. Sometimes those are the bits that turn out the best.
And sometimes they turn out to be complete crap, but you never know what might happen until you try.
I think that’s one of the best things about NaNoWriMo. I’m sure many of you already know about NaNoWriMo, but for those of you who don’t, NaNoWriMo happens in November and stands for National Novel Writing Month. There are also two Camp NaNoWriMo months that happen sometime during the summer. This year those months were April (which I didn’t participate in due to school still being in session) and July (which I did).
The point of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in a month. That’s 1,667 words a day. For most people, that sounds like a lot. For those who get writer’s block, that sounds like a ridiculous amount. But the point isn’t necessarily to produce a perfect book. The point is to create a book that can be edited later and turned into a good book (no, I won’t say perfect book, because any author will tell you that now matter how many books they’ve written and published, there isn’t a perfect one among them). Which means that some of the stuff you write will be complete and utter nonsense and absolutely horrible. And usually that will come from the times when you have writer’s block. But if you push through it, you’ll find that a lot of what you write will actually be better than you thought it was. And that will often some from when you had writer’s block as well.
If pushing through it just simply doesn’t work for you, find something that does. Go for a short (emphasize short) walk. Take a shower, go for a short drive (again short), whatever it is that helps inspire you. But then COME BACK! Come back to your work and write. Because if you let your writer’s block stop you from writing, you’ll never train your brain to stop getting writer’s block (and, amazingly enough, you actually CAN do that). Your brain will instead get the message that if it doesn’t give you information right off the bat, then it doesn’t have to work and it will stop giving you that information. Laziness will beget laziness and you will end up lying on your bed doing nothing for the entire afternoon (What are you talking about? I totally don’t speak from experience . . .), which is really not the best course of action.
I hope this helps someone. Tell me, what do you do to get past writer’s block? I would love more ideas.