Our Monday Fox asked:
What are some ways you deal with writer’s block?
I can tell you how others don’t deal with it.
The inability to finish a story, to get past a plot hole, to link one set of happenings to another in a story has never been a real problem for me.
I swear to you, it’s never stopped a story for me, not to the point where I can’t go on, to not continue the story.
In fact, very often I surprise myself with the realization that I have foreshadowed what the story needs earlier on.
It happens so often that the image of Alec Baldwin in “The Hunt for Red October” comes to mind when he was trying to think of how the officers, (if indeed they were defectors), would get the crew off of the nuclear submarine and realizes that they had a built-in excuse, the pertinent word being “nuclear”.
It’s almost frightening; my subconscious is doing the writing.
If I have not been writing or haven’t looked at a piece of work in a while and am concerned about picking up the thread, rereading what I have and getting into the story just makes it start flowing again. Generally, my writing is linear, but at times certain scenes write themselves in my head and as I put them down, the characters sometimes take off on their own while I am typing. Right now I am working on tying together scenes in one story that have been collecting dust in my files and again, I found that I had portended circumstances for one to slip into the story smoothly without having realized it.
Therein lies my theory as to why so many great ideas are lost and never expounded upon, how so many valiant efforts and hard-wrought works have fallen by the wayside, why so many people with great ideas for books never complete them:
I have personally been involved with a number of people who had wonderful stories to tell and often, their completed passages have knocked my socks off. These people could can put words to paper, (as it were), and bring scenes to life, but they are unyielding; they know what they want to say, they want to say it in a certain way, and they want their characters to act in certain ways and do certain things at certain times.
They have notebooks and digital notes full of ideas and passages. They have sticky notes covering walls and some even have storyboards, and yet they can’t get it to go. They can’t finish. They can’t even put these great ideas, scenes and dialogue together at all and the work, some wonderful works, are lost and the writers are disheartened because
they thought that they had to plot it all out carefully and completely, and
they don’t trust their characters.
These people over-think, they are single-minded. Characters don’t always want to cooperate, characters need to be given the opportunity to grow beyond the original idea for the storyline, and others just need to be allowed to bow out, or take a lesser role in the story. If the writers is trying to force the characters to fit into their solid ideas like square pegs into round holes, the writer is going to be banging his or her head up against corners, and they will give up in complete frustration, certain that they are not cut out to write. Over my long decades, I have watched friends and family members stop writing for these reasons and it breaks my heart every time. They lose faith in themselves all because they can’t get their original ideas and careful plans to mesh.
If they only knew how much more awaits them if they were to ‘wing it’ a bit more.
One of my past guests, writer and phycologist-to-Hollywood-writers Dennis Palumbo, says that when his clients come to him and say that they have “writers’ block” he congratulates them, that they have arrived at a new juncture in their writing. I recommend his Book,”Writing From the Inside Out” [See post:https://fourfoxesonehound.wordpress.com/2019/05/17/guest-dennis-palumbo/]
No matter what, writer’s block is trying to tell the writer something. They need to put that piece away and write something completely different for a while. Then they should reread what they wrote and remember what they wanted to say in the first place, but they also need listen to their characters, trust them to know what the characters would and wouldn’t do. Then they should change the scene or situations if inspiration strikes them, and they need to let it strike. They have to let revelations hit them like lightening or whisper in their ears, they just have to open their minds and listen when it does. Darlings don’t have to be killed, just converted, or saved for another time. Another work may suit them better.
If I can learn to be flexible, anyone can learn to be flexible.
The trick is to not completely give up, or give in.