‘A Proactive Approach’ Unblocking Writer’s Block, Part One

Creativity is a precious thing

I’m often coming across blog posts about the dreaded writer’s block theses days. While it’s reassuring to know that as a writer I’m not alone in suffering from this malady from time to time, I also feel saddened to read that many writers suffer from it. Creativity is a precious thing, so to feel starved of ideas and drained of enthusiasm is deeply troubling.

A problem that needs fixing

Writer’s block can often be caused by external factors such as ‘day job’ commitments, family demands or ill-health. It can also be caused by fatigue, a sudden lack of self-belief, and/or motivation, when words fail to drip from the fingertips onto the laptop screen or actual paper. At times like these the question ‘Why is this?’ looms large. And it’s a very good question, because often the cause of writer’s block can be due to a problem that needs fixing in a work in progress itself. So what is the problem?

The heart of the matter

Just lately, after an enthusiastic start to my fourth novella, I’ve felt resistance to writing, and have instead been turning to interaction on social media and blog writing in preference to just getting on with the job. Was I writing a whole lot of rubbish? I asked myself at a particularly low moment. Deep down I knew I wasn’t, yet this was a disappointing place in which to find myself. After mulling over the matter, I let my gut instinct kick in. It was fundamentally to do with the structure. I’d found the heart of the matter.

Tackling things head on

As a predominately panser type of writer, I’d simply started and let my imagination just take over. The story line was flowing along well and I’d been getting more and more excited as the narrative unfolded before me on the screen. But I’d reached the point where I needed to let my alter-ego, the plotter, take over. This required me to chunk down and get into the nitty-gritty – the analysis of scenes and scene sequels: Goal, Conflict, Disaster; Reaction, Dilemma, Decision. So I got stuck in, and this process also helped me to uncover another fundamental problem I’d suspected; a trap writers can fall into only too easily. I’d given away far too much information at the start of the story by ‘telling’ not ‘showing’. The thought of having to migrate some of my well crafted sentences into later dialogue hadn’t appealed, and I’d been shirking the whole exercise in consequence. However, unless I set about tackling the matter head on, I was in danger of giving up, and no way could I possibly let that happen.

The next step

If a change of lifestyle, or rest, or simply patience, is needed, in order to pick up the real or virtual pen once again, then so be it. Often though, it’s the writing itself that needs sorting. A proactive approach – an identification of what is required – is the step that mostly wins the day. The next step is to get on with it!

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