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Please head on over to writingthroughthebody.com to get this week’s writing tip and to stay plugged in for future weekly writing tips, special offers, freebies, and new and exciting info about the unfolding of my Writing Through the Body workshops and courses!
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10 Ways to Banish Writer’s Block
Thanks for your loyal following and your continued interest in WTB.
I appreciate it very much!
If I find myself just writing scenes where characters talk because I like the sound of their voices or the way they are together, I know it’s time to step back for a minute, re-evaluate, and do an exercise to refresh my brain.
Image credit: my-favorite-coloring.net
One thing I do is get the characters talking about something different and that will actually move the story forward is to ask each of them in the scene this question: What do you want in this situation and why?
Then I let them have at it. I write in first person monologue for as long as each one needs to talk. And I free write. I recommend setting a timer if you haven’t done free writing before or if you really, really believe you won’t be able to get very far.
Commit to at least 5 minutes of free-writing, which means once you start, you don’t stop. You keep the pen/pencil moving on the paper (yes, you have to do this by hand), even when the character is being obstinate and won’t say much. When this happens, just keep writing, even if it’s just I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to say. Eventually, he/she will say something new and different, and it will probably surprise you.
Try it. It works!
Start watching at 1:35…
If you’ve taken any writing classes at all, you know that one of the staple rules beginners are taught is “write what you know.” Even as a fresh beginner, I never took this advice literally. I was, after all, interested in writing fiction. I didn’t want to tell you exactly what happened the first time I fell in love or what my divorce was like or give the graphic details of my abuse. I wanted to write stories that would stretch further than my own limited experience of the world. I wanted to strive for something bigger than myself.
It’s hard for those who don’t write to understand this concept: that we writers might write from personal experience, but we’re not writing autobiography.
“Write what you know”charges us with the task of taking the essence of our emotional experiences and rendering them universal. I like the way author, Nathan Englander, puts it:
So, do write what you know, but rather than retell actual events, visit those events that left a lasting impression on you, then dig deeper. Forage your memory for the sensual details—the way the breeze delicately rippled the curtain, how the sun shimmered on the cobalt blue vase, the sharp smell of sulfur in the air that 4th of July when you got the news, or the sound of your mother crying behind a closed door.
And forage your heart for what you felt around those sensual details. Because when we write from emotional experience, that’s when we can begin to write universally about the human condition, and that’s when we give ourselves a fighting chance to touch the person who takes the time to read what we’ve bothered to write.