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.
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.