Getting over Writer’s Block
I am having an “I am an actor, not a writer!” kind of day. I am stuck. I have writer’s block. I am frustrated that I am stuck at a table trying to squeeze words out of my head and onto a page rather than from a page, into my head.
So in my effort to find my way out of my writing hole I thought I would look at some methods that I might attempt to use to claw my way out. I am hoping that in documenting my writing pains and experiments, I can look back at a later date and reflect on what did and didn’t work.
1000 words per day
This feels like a huge commitment but it does seem to be that magic number of words whereafter you can proudly stand up and proclaim I write, therefore, I am a writer.
I don’t intend on aiming to write 1000 words of dialogue per day as a playwright, but writing in general. Writing anything at all, be that free writing, story, poetry, writing from prompts, or just waffling on about my day and looking back on what I have learned and experienced.
I am not going to beat myself up about it, if I don’t make it to a thousand words. I am adhering to the axiom: “Reach for the stars and even if you fall short, you will still get to the moon”. It may be that I end up writing for just half an hour or a few hours, but I will write something, and at the moment being stuck, something is better than nothing.
I found the Writer website. It uses green text on black screen and looks totally different to anything I am used to using. I thought this would be an interesting distraction from the usual apps I use for writing and stop me creatively writing on apps that I may be unconsciously relating to “mindless, uncreative, jobs”. Working on apps that have an association with boredom-induced stress probably isn’t very conducive to creative expression.
The Writer website has a very simple layout and is simply for writing. It automatically saves what you write, as you write it and helpfully displays an update of how many words, characters and pages you have written so far, at the bottom right of the screen.
As soon as something becomes routine to me, predicable and repetitive my brain either switches off or tries anything and everything to break out of it. What I could perhaps do, is choose to have an period of time of free writing every day with a set of exercises to choose from, but to not restrict myself to a set time and place.
Writing prompts for Writer’s Block
In the last writer’s café Meetup I went to, the organiser used word prompts and time limits. We had to blindly pick three words. Then, with a time limit of five minutes, write everything that came to mind. I was exposed to this at the ScriptEast event earlier in the year too, where we had to randomly pick a character name and write about it. This technique seems to work very well for me and I wrote a short piece that I probably would never have dreamed of writing, had I relied on my own motivation. So I may not only include it in free writing but also see if I can incorporate it into my play writing scenes and dialogue too. It will be interesting to see if it can take a scene into a different direction and give characters a whole new perspective I wouldn’t have imagined if not forced into the unknown.
I found a writing exercises website, with a word generator that creates three nouns for a writer to work from. The site is specifically aimed at writers who are experiencing writers block so there are many other exercises that I may also check out. There is also a similar random word generator at the TextFixer website, that gives the option of generating as many as ten words at a time, made up of both nouns and verbs. There is also a random word generator on the Watchout4snakes website. It gives the further options to filter the randomly generated words by type and complexity.
I’m not sure how effective this would work for my writing now, but I remember quite strongly that this was a technique one of my teachers at school used to use to get her students to write creatively. We would be given a pile of photos or magazine cuttings and we had to pick the ones that appealed to us and write a story about it. I used to write prolifically then, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to give it another try. Maybe a technique to use it in combination with writing prompts. There are quite a few random image generators around the web. There is one specifically for writing on the Writing Exercises website I mentioned previously. It says on the website that the images are suitable for any ages to view.
A change is as good as a rest so, in the middle of writing this blog post, I also moved my desk across the room. Now, I can see how that could be misconstrued as procrastination and doing anything but writing, but I do believe it will make a difference. Instead of sitting up the table, floating in the centre of the room as if I am sitting down to have dinner, I am up against the window, facing out onto the garden. So when I look up and stare into space now, I look straight down my garden path and onto trees, plants and blue skies, not a shabby, could do with a lick of paint 5 years ago, wall.
Will all of this make a difference to my writer’s block? Well, I’ve just exceeded my 1000 word goal just writing this blog post, so that’s not a bad start!