Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Take Note (short story, plus tips to keep writing) by Leanne Dyck

Me: Recently, I've been engaged in life and have little time to write.

You: Sounds like an excuse. If you want to write, you find the time.

Me: Yes, but, what if it's something more. What if, it's writers' block. What...Do. I do. Then?

You: Why don't you read this article you wrote...

Take Note

He found the note on the breakfast table. There it was beside his scrambled eggs and toast. He picked it up and read it over slowly. It was Sunday--he had the time. 

    Piss off! You heard me. Leave. I don't want you around. I don't anything for you--no money, no booze, no nothin'. Isn't it bad enough that I'm trapped in this tin piss can without you tormenting me? I don't need you. I don't need anyone. I'm just fine on my own, thank you very much. I don't need your help. I don't need your pity. If you stay, one of the two of us is going to get hurt and I can guarantee it won't be me. So get the hell out of my house! Why are you still here? Are you deaf, dumb, and stupid!

He smiled. Smiled--at such a note? Was he insane?

Maybe. He did, after all, love a writer. That required some degree of insanity.

Yes, he smiled. He smiled because he knew her writer's block was over. Thor had found his hammer. The angels had found their harps. And his wife had found her muse. All was right with the world; she was back at work.

As if she were dancing on sunbeams, she floated into the kitchen. "Did you read it?"

What did he say? What could he say? "Um, yes. Yes, I did."

"Well, what do you think?"

"It's rather...ah...strong."

"I know." Her entire face shone like the sun. "I'm not sure where it fits yet. But that doesn't matter. I've started. That's the hardest part. Starting." She joined him at the table, her hand smoothing the paper. "Sometimes it's like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. Only you don't have to find all the corner pieces first. You just have to find a piece."

Yes, he had to admit, it did help to be a little insane.

Oh, yes I'm very familiar with writers' block. So familiar am I, in fact, that I've devised ways and means to overcome it. These strategies have worked for me--I hope they work for you.

Release: One word leads to another. So grab a pen and write the first thing that comes to your mind--how cute your boyfriend looks in jeans; what you love about your new job; the weather. Write.

While you write, don't worry about word count, grammar, or spelling. Simply allow words to pour out of your pen uncensored. The only goal here is to relax and release.

Pep talk: It's often beneficial to seek the advice of others who've faced the same obstacle. So, talk with or read the books of fellow writers to discover their strategies.

Books that have helped me, include...
Steven King's On Writing
James Scott Bell's Plot & Structure
Nancy Lamb's The Art and Craft of Storytelling.

Make a habit of it: Writing every day will lead to wanting/needing to write every day. 

Be publically accountable: As a member of a critique group, my self-imposed expectation is that I have something to share at each meeting. If I don't, my peers will know. For me, this external means of accountability is a strong motivator.

Give yourself time:  It could be that the sentence you're currently unable to write is simply beyond your writing skill level. What helps me is giving myself time to read good books. Learning how others craft a sentence helps me find my author's voice. 

Change of scenery: Sometimes unblocking can be as easy as going for a walk. Physical exercise allows my brain to work, while the rest of me is otherwise engaged.

Create:  If the words aren't coming, I pick up my knitting needles and cast on stitches. Creating something physically often leads me to put words on paper.  

All writers face it, you will overcome it--believe in yourself.