Quote Wednesday–Keep Writing

Quote Wednesday Sept 2, 2015

There are days when I sit in front of my computer screen with fingers poised over the keyboard … and nothing happens. My mind goes blank, the story lines twist and tangle, the ideas that seemed so inspired as I prepared to write, drift away like a cloud scudding across the sky in a stiff wind.

And yet, as the quote above so clearly states, I must turn on that tap. I have to get that water flowing. I must write – full stop – no negotiation.

There are a few things I’ve learned to do that can help prime the pump. If I’m stuck in general, I might try some wild writing and see what comes of it. I’ve given this exercise to students – from grade 5 all the way up to fourth year university students. Write for five minutes without stopping. Write about anything that comes into your head, but no stopping. No rewriting or editing. No erasing or backspacing. That’s the only rule. No stopping. It’s a hard exercise. I’m often stunned at what emerges during these five minutes.

If I’m stuck on not being able to hear a character’s voice, I’ll write a lengthy letter from that character to another. Or, I’ll come up with a series of interview questions and put them to this character and type away at the answers he or she gives me.

If these methods aren’t getting me anywhere, I’ll go for a long walk or a stationary bike ride to clear the cobwebs out of my head, then try again. If I think the story is going off the rails in some way, I’ll revisit character sketches, stare at my storyboard and rearrange sticky notes, then try again. I might have to take a total break and read a book by someone else, then try again.

I think all of you get the message. Try again. Turn that tap on. Keep writing.

Colleen's Writer Quote Wed. cartoon

I’m happy to be participating in Colleen’s post chain once again. Make sure to visit her blog – Silver Threading – on Tuesdays to catch a compilation of all the great quote Wednesday posts.

14 comments on “Quote Wednesday–Keep Writing

  1. Every time I read something like this I’m inspired. I was on a roll writing daily after taking a workshop but slowly got out of the habit. Back at it again, writing a lot or a little everyday. Consistency. I may not use most of it but, hopefully, I’ve written a decent sentence or two that can be expounded on. Thanks for another reminder…Just write! 🙂

    • I think that’s the key – accepting that we may not use everything we write. It is the act of writing that helps us zero in on where we need to go. As you say – writing a decent sentence or two and then expounding on that. I’m pleased my little post and quote brought forward your thoughts.

  2. You just inspire me so much! What excellent advice and I love your ideas about interviewing your characters. Thank you for another fabulous quote! ❤

  3. Behind the Story says:

    So happy to see a quote from Louis L’Amour. He was my dad’s favorite author. I do some of the things you mentioned, but I find that the most important thing is to sit down and write (with as few distractions as possible).

    • So true on the distraction thing, Nicki. The distractions of life can be irresistible when one is in a distracted state to begin with – only making things worse. My father-in-law was a huge L’Amour fan and I’ve always been curious to try one of his books just to see. I might – L’Amour certainly knew about the writing process.

  4. smilecalm says:

    an inspiration
    to write
    as an
    expression
    of love 🙂

  5. Roy McCarthy says:

    Great advice. Though I’ve found that there’s nothing like a deadline to jolt one into action.

    • For me, those deadlines serve to focus and prioritize the work. Lately, I am all about the self-imposed deadlines and those have a way of wavering in the face of other things – like the garden or someone dropping by or a quick trip. Once fall sets in, I vow to show more discipline.

  6. Erin says:

    I so agree about long walks–perfect for thinking through plot or character quandaries.

    • Lately, I’ve been getting that feeling on my stationary bike rides. The bike is outside, under a covered deck with a beautiful view up into the trees and I just imagine myself zooming along and my mind wanders. Good stuff.

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