Monday, March 17, 2014

Stranded In The Wordless Desert...

 
 
 
 
Whoever said writing children's books is easy never actually tried to write one.
 
Sometimes I will sit in front of my computer, staring at the blank screen and wondering if I will ever form a coherent thought again. Experts call it writer's block. I call it being stranded in a wordless desert where hundreds of negative thoughts swirl around me and finding my next drink is a thousand times easier than that first sentence.
 
This feeling of emptiness...for I have no better way to describe it...doesn't happen often but enough for me to really appreciate those sweet words when they do return. There is such a rush of emotion when I am working on a story...watching the ebb and flow of characters interacting with each other and the world around them. Allowing my main character to almost reach their goal before I throw another monkey wrench into the mix. Then being just as surprised as my protagonist when the last page turns and there is a happy ending waiting for us both.
 
But if I've learned anything from a successful writing time it's the fact those empty word roadblocks WILL indeed happen so I need to be ready for them.  I may not be able to stop them from occurring but hopefully I can use some of the following tips to lessen the time I spend in that wordless desert...
 
TIPS TO OVERCOME WRITER'S BLOCK:
 
1. WRITE SOMETHING...ANYTHING DOWN. Write Mary Had a Little Lamb or the Lord's Prayer. WHAT you write down right now isn't as important as the fact you are breaking through the sterile curtain holding you back from adding more words to screen or paper.
 
2. READ OVER THE LAST THING YOU WROTE. I'm also in the middle of writing a young adult fantasy novel but I don't do it every day. To avoid drawing a blank the next time I work on it, I always go back and read the last chapter. It helps set the tone and draws me back into the world I'm creating so I can more easily follow the story moving forward.
 
3. READ SOMETHING SIMILAR. If I've started a new picture book and run into a brick wall, I start reading similar stories to see how other authors have handled their protagonist's problems. I don't want to mimic their work but enjoying the works of others will help fuel my own imagination.
 
4. VISIT THE INTERNET. You've heard me right. Now I don't mean hang out for hours playing Candy Crush or watching YouTube videos. But setting a kitchen timer for 30 minutes to connect with other writer friends and family allows you a chance to realize you're not all alone on this journey. Others have choked on the dust of a wordless desert and sometimes it helps to know that.
 
5. TAKE A BREAK. Take a walk. Work in the garden. Phone a friend. Do a crossword puzzle. Take a nap. Just like Paul Simon's song "Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover", there are at least that many ways to shake things up and get those words flowing again.
 
I don't claim to know all the answers when it comes to writing but  I do know I'm a pretty good listener. I listen to those smarter than me and I follow the writerly wisdom of others who have been on this journey longer than I have. Oh yeah, and when I find myself out in that wordless desert I make sure to bring along some sun tan lotion cuz the sun's mighty bright out there...
 
 
 

 
 



16 comments:

  1. Great photo, and tips on getting your motivation back to write. A good walk is often the best remedy. Although, I'm also partial to naps. I love naps. Can I take one today?
    Play off the Page

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    1. Hi Mary and welcome to my blog! I love a good walk and LOVE naps! Since I can't have one today I'll gladly let YOU have one...;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  2. Good suggestions, Donna. We have certainly all been there in that desert. I'm surprised we haven't run into each other! I am usually working on so many pieces at once, that when one turns ugly, I can spend some time on another.

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    1. Hi Genevieve! I know what you mean...that's where I'm at right now. I have a number of picture books that need revising, a middle grade chapter book needing work, and two adult novels needing their first draft finished. Sometimes it's not just the desert that stops me...LIFE has a funny way of doing it too! ;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  3. Good advice, Donna! Chocolate is also good :) (It stimulates the brain, after all... :))

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    1. Hi Susanna! I agree...chocolate should have been at the top of the list...how could I have forgotten? See...I said there were more than fifty ways...;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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    1. Thanks, Belinda...I try! ;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  5. Most excellent advice. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Hi Randi and welcome to my blog! If you like this post I would suggest you check out some of my WRITERLY WISDOM posts (you can find the links on the side bar) where I have other authors and agents doing guest posts about all things writerly...;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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    1. Thanks, Erik! It's not anything we don't already know as writers...sometimes we just have to be reminded...;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  7. I like #1, "write anything...to break that sterile curtain..." I've tried that a few times. For me, it's better than nothing at all. Sometimes the momentum of writing anything will ignite something. Like Susanna says, chocolate will do too.

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    1. Hi Romelle! When I'm thinking of topics to write about on my blog I will actually do a lot of free thinking either just before I go to sleep or just as I wake up which for me is kinda like just writing anything down...just without the ink...;~)

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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  8. I think writing for kids is actually harder than writing adult fiction! You've got to limit your vocabulary, distill to the basic essence, and still make it entertaining for adults who might have to read it to them! You've got your work cut out for you, and there's no shame in a little stress here and there. :)

    Alex Hurst, fantasy author in Japan, participating in Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

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    1. Hi Alex and welcome to my blog! You are right...writing for children IS more challenging. I also write middle grade chapter books and young adult novels (fantasy and mystery) so we have some things in common...;~)

      Good luck with the A to Z Challenge...I've got most of my posts scheduled already..

      Thanks for stopping by and come back any time!

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