I often think of writing stories as a wide, slow-moving river. At first, the water is smooth and still. It’s a beautiful, warm day. Prospects seem high. But every word makes a wave. The further you travel in your story, the stronger the current and the less containable. A tree branch snags you. And, once again, you’re stuck.
It’s the inevitable question: how do you push through writer’s block? We WepWoppers have explored different solutions (some which we will share on our next podcast!). While always open to new, creative ideas, here are a few that seem to pull us ashore:
1. Reading other works: it seems strange, consuming words that aren’t yours with hopes to inspire your own story. Isn’t that, in some way, stealing? Let us assure you, it is not. Reading gets the mind back on track when its run rampant from self-induced hysteria during an unforeseen crisis mid-plot. It familiarizes your mind, again, with tone, style, and rich, inspiring language. Often, when stuck, I flip through Margaret Atwood’s short stories and poems. They’re short, easy to digest, and recognizable.
2. Note Carding: Jotting down ideas onto notecards helps visualize elements of a story in a different space than a paper or computer screen. This change in scenery keeps the mind fresh and even brings forth issues that may be glossed over when placed with the original draft.
3. Seek Constant Inspiration: As my favorite movie, Stranger than Fiction, states “like all great stories, it came inexplicably and without method.” In other words, you have to be engaged. Really see, really hear, really exist in every moment. The consistent plight of the writer–being both a part of and separate from every moment. This takes practice. Keep a notebook. Record what people say. My best ideas recently have come from my interactions with people at work. A customer will speak and a phrase or word will jump out, and before you know it: STORY! You’re a journalist as much as you are a writer, a philanthropist as much as a plot-ician, a detective as much as an editor. In order to find your fodder, each moment must be potential inspiration.
We’ll keep throwing writer’s block buoys out, to hopefully help keep you afloat. In the meantime, feel free to listen to Neil Gaiman’s tips below or post your own creative ways to keep cruising while writing in our comment box!