Just recently I sat down to start a new manuscript. I had the concept, the characters, a few scenes sketched out. Yet I balked. This was the beginning. Every writer knows, those first pages need to be stellar. So switched to fleshing out the characters a little. I typed up my plot notes. I even cracked open a few books for research. Everything but the actual writing.
Does this sound familiar? Writer’s block takes many forms. In this case, It handcuffed me to avoidance pattern. I finally set about tinkering with possible titles, penning a long list of contenders. Then, in a flash, I zeroed in on a winner. It spoke to me. I could see how the story would start now and in a matter of minutes I had the first three pages typed up.
You think you have writer’s block. Not even close. Check out Mike Noonan (the fictional mid-list writer from Stephen King’s Bag of Bones):
Sometimes I tried to write, and every time I did, I locked up. Once, when I tried to force a sentence or two (any sentence or two, just as long as they came fresh-baked out of my own head), I had to grab the wastebasket and vomit into it. I vomited until I thought it was going to kill me…and I did have to literally crawl away from the desk and computer, pulling myself across the deep-pile rug on my hands and knees.
So how many of you have vomited when stuck with your writing? Nope? I thought not. Yeah, you don’t have writer’s block. What your really have is a quality block. You can write, but you have this fear that what you’ll write will suck. That shouldn’t stop you.
It’s this chance of utter failure paralyzes even the best writer.
It is possible to sneak around this quality block. The solution? Explore other forms of writing. Try writing down details on your characters, organize your notes. Not everything you write has to appear in your final manuscript. Get to know your protagonist. Have him write a letter to another character. Or create a packing list for when he goes on vacation. Anything to get you writing and thinking about the manuscript again will do. Pretty soon, you’ll be swept up in the passion of your story (at least if it’s worth writing), and before long you’re back to putting words on pages.
The next time you feel stymied by that blank page glaring at you, change location. Move to the couch or go out. But keep your mind on the story. Take a notepad and jot down whatever notes come—organize, list, spew out random thoughts. Whatever works to get your pen moving and your mind unstuck. Because writer’s block is only in your mind.