If you are like 100% of writer’s, you are familiar with the Block of doom that belongs to all of our kind, though we never asked for it and we certainly don’t want it. Unfortunately, any time we manage to lose it, some well-meaning jogger or visiting botanist sees it sticking out of a bush or half buried in a pit in the ground and says, “Oh dear, some poor writer has lost their block!” And like the kind hearted idiot they are, they return the block to the writer who was just rejoicing their freedom and now shall descend once more to the pit of despair.
I myself have tried many methods of disposing of the Block. These include:
-Throwing it off a cliff
-Fitting it with cement shoes (a difficult endeavor as it has no feet), and hurling it into the sea
-Feeding it to a rabid llama
What I have learned from these attempts is that writer’s blocks are a) equipped with parachutes, b) able to survive without oxygen, and c) not the sort of thing llamas like to eat (even rabid ones). Therefore, my course of action is clear.
IT IS TO BE WAR BETWEEN US.
*cue Phantom of the Opera music*
But before you do battle, it is imperative that you raid the arsenal of your mind for some weapons.
Here are a few of my personal favorites.
The Flame of Fresh Input
I know you are a little writer clam who can’t open the blinds let alone open the door- but you must GET OUT OF THE HOUSE.
Go for a walk. Buy a sandwich. Go to a coffee shop you’ve never been to before. Watch people. Just stare at them. Maybe it will creep them out and they’ll come hit you over the head with a watermelon or call the police (either of these would provide something to write about). In short, go into the world and observe.
Notice things. Let yourself get weirdly fascinated by that lamp in the coffee shop. It might just be your next main character. (I’ve never written a book about a lamp, but you never know.) When you hear someone shout, “Dang it, Peterson!”, let yourself wonder… Who is Peterson? What did they do?! Are we all in danger because of it?!?! You must TELL THE WORLD.
Writer’s blocks don’t like new things. Light a fire. Scare them away.
(But don’t literally light a fire because THE MOST PRECIOUS THINGS IN THE WORLD ARE MADE OF PAPER. Don’t murder any books, please. I will have to spend 7 weeks in mourning and I won’t be able to write.)
Communication? A weapon?
Yes indeed, sir.
If your characters have fled the scene and don’t seem to be coming back, how about a little old fashioned communication? Write them a letter. Make them write back. Track them down and have a conversation. Just talk to them. If you stop trying to stab them and destroy everything they love for a moment and have a nice friendly chat, they might just open up and tell you a few new things about themselves. With this new found information in hand, you can proceed with ruining their lives. (By the way, if you have these conversations in public, you have the nice side effect of making people think you are crazy which= more writing material.)
If your characters have caught onto your thoroughly sinister nature and refuse to be found or respond to your mail, get really sneaky. Write them a letter under a pseudonym. Better yet- write them a letter as another character. Someone they trust. You can use this technique for conversations with them too. As writer’s we have unique shape-shifting powers. We’ve got built in Mission Impossible masks. We are awesome.
Give yourself a concise mission
Not a mission like, “Finish my book!” or, “Write something amazing!” No, friends. These are the goals upon which writer’s blocks sit like thrones.
Give yourself a simple, routine task.
Here’s a fun one. Write an album. A CD. Use each song title as a prompt. Write a scene. Write a journal entry by your character. Then go onto the next song. And the next. Go until you get to the end of the album, just writing whatever each song makes you think of.
Prompts are great, but if you get on Pinterest to look for them there are so many it is easy to get overwhelmed and not know which to pick. This way you have a set and you always know which one is next.
It doesn’t have to be an album. Any kind of set of things could be used as a set of prompts. It could be a grocery list or the ingredients on the back of a cereal box. You could go through the primary colors. It could be anything. Just pick something and stick with it. Writer’s blocks get sulky when you start committing to something. Make them go sulk in the corner while you get your creative genius up and running again.
And, if all else fails…
The Grenade of Stupidity
Yep. That’s right.
Just write something stupid. Give yourself your permission, your blessing, to write something crazy and inconsistent and completely unrelated to what has happened previously. If your main character starts tap dancing, let them. If they start pouring out their heart in words that are terribly uncharacteristic and more like High School Musical, JUST LET THEM, no matter how embarrassing it is. If your antagonist claims they have an army of penguins waiting for orders inside shipment containers in the harbor, encourage your dear sweet protagonists to do something about it. Write like no one is ever going to read it, because they probably aren’t . This is for you. You are loosening up your brain. So yeah. Weird stuff is falling out of it. It’s all part of the process. Writer’s blocks can get weirded out sometimes, snatch up their hats, and go to find a more sane writer to torment. And then you will be free. So just start writing like you are already free and freedom will soon be yours.
Then someday when your book is a worldwide bestseller and the oceans have tripled in size from the tears of your readers, you can nonchalantly tell your chums, “Oh, yes. There was once a time when emotionally distraught, dark and brooding main character of darkness did a tap dance routine and fought penguins.”
Let the thought of this moment fuel you. Write the stupid stuff. Even if it is painful now, it will be hilarious later.
Have you tried any of these? Did they help you vanquish the Block of doom? Do you have any other weapons to recommend? Please do tell! We writer’s have got to help each other out.