Thursday, January 9, 2014

Writer's Block: A Few Thoughts

I'd like to start by saying that Writer's Block is kind of a load of crap. At least in the sense of it being some strange, uncontrollable force or disease that effects us writers. Having Writer's Block is not an excuse to not write. Many writers will say they have Writer's Block and thus they simply can not write until it goes away *cue fainting couch*. That's not how this works.

Having Writer's Block is just another way to say that you're not motivated or inspired to write. You don't have that burning fire in your belly that can only be put out with written words on a page. But you know what, you have to get over that. If you only write when you feel like it, you'll never really write anything. So how do you get over that Writer's Block feeling?

Not long ago I read Chuck Wendig's book The Kick Ass Writer and he has a whole chapter about Writer's Block. If it was legal, I'd just copy what he said here and leave it at that. But, since I can't do that, I'll just paraphrase some of what he said.

First: Keep Writing. Even if you don't feel that fire. Sit down and just write. It doesn't have to be part of whatever project you're working on, as long as you are putting words on paper. And quality doesn't really matter either. Words. Paper. Keep Writing.

Second: Look at other aspects of the project. Maybe you're not feeling motivated to write because there's something wrong or missing. Think/write/talk about what's bothering you with the project. Don't be afraid to try something new or go in a totally different direction with it.

Third: Go do something not writing related. Take a walk, go hang out with friends, watch some mindless TV, whatever works. Just don't get caught doing it forever and never get back to the writing.

Fourth: Review your Mojo. Maybe some aspect of your Writing Mojo is off. Maybe you need to rearrange your routine or adjust your goals. Go to the root of the problem and dig it out.

Fifth: It might be bigger than Writer's Block. I'm going to quote directly from Wendig, page 77. "It's worth noting that sometimes the thing you think is writer's block is actually depression. Depression is neither helped nor fixed by attending to it as if it's writing block--no amount of 'writing through it' will solve depression. Depression requires its own solutions that you should discuss with family, friends, and any medical personnel you trust with such a decision."

He makes a great point here. I've been depressed and it's made it so I didn't write for years. Once I made certain, needed, changes in my life, I was able to write again. So if the Writer's Block doesn't seem to go away no matter what you do, look beyond the writing part of your life and seek help if necessary.

So there you have it. Remember, Writer's Block is not a disease and is something that you can work through. It might take time and it might suck while you're going through it, but there is a light at the end of that tunnel, I promise.

And that, dear readers, concludes Kricket's Writing Tips for Beginners. I hope you have enjoyed reading this series and I hope it has helped you in some way. Please remember to share and comment and let me know if there's anything else you'd like me to talk about.

Now, Go Write Something!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The First Draft: It Sucks

Now that's we've talked about some of the pre-writing basics, discovering why and what you write, figuring out where and when you'll write, as well as setting achievable writing goals. We can now move on to the actual writing.

Everything starts with the first draft. I don't care if you outline or not. If you meticulously plan every moment of your story/essay/whatever you write or if you just pull crap out of your head and throw it on the page. No matter what you do, your first draft is going to be god awful. A poopy diaper is going to look better than your first draft. This is a proven fact. I have seen many poopy diapers and many first drafts. The diapers caused me less pain.

As a writer, you need to accept this. Embrace the fact that the first draft is going to be terrible. Seriously, give it a hug.* You'll feel better. The sooner you acknowledge that your initial word vomit is going to be that, word vomit, the sooner you can move on to finishing the first draft and then going back and fixing it.

Because the second most important thing about first drafts is that you have to finish it. No matter how horrid it is and how much you hate it by the end, you have to finish that thing. If you never finish that first draft you'll never know how awesome it could be. And you'll also never learn.

You'll learn more about writing by completing the first draft than you can learn in every creative writing class on the planet. You can read every text book, study every grammar manual and you'll still learn the most by writing and finishing what you write.

So go forth dear Reader/Writer and pour your soul on to the page. Crack open your head and just plop your brain down on your project like an egg onto a skillet. Because until you write those first words down, you can't really call your self a Writer, now can you?

Thanks for reading! Please comment and/or share this if you liked it. And Happy New Year, may it bring you awesome plot bunnies and lots of writing motivation.

*I feel I should note that I got Chuck Wendig's new book The Kick Ass Writer, for Christmas, so if my writing style seems to emulate his today, I'm sorry. BTW, it's an awesome book and he's smarter than me, so you should read it too.