National Novel Writing Month is here and with NaNoWriMo (which sounds like a magical chant) comes the return of the bane to every writer: Writer’s Block.
This force might seem like an all-powerful dragon who loves to barbecue your ideas and steal your cattle of metaphors; but if you wish to finish your 50,000 word quest, young knight, you’ll need to slay that beast. So, it’s time to gear up.
These tips work just as well outside of NaNoWriMo!
Tip One (the Helmet):
Brainstorming. Write down everything that comes to you, no matter how stupid it sounds. It doesn’t need to be neat and it doesn’t need to be fully formed, just get it down. Write down verbs, places, names, descriptions, plot, whatever comes to your mind. You’ll clean it up later.
Tip Two (the Chainmail):
Like the old Nike commercials say, “Just Write It.” Actually, it was “Just Do It,” but you get the idea.
Take ten to fifteen minutes to just spew out words onto paper (or computer). It’s like brainstorming but more refined. In this tip, you have already picked some ideas from your brainstorming and are now “filling in the gaps.”
Tip Three (the Boots & Leggings):
Chill, man or woman. Part of the reason you have the fire-spitting menace breathing down your neck is because of panic and/or stress.
I mean, 50,000 words in a month? Who came up with that?! It’s not like we have jobs or lives or anything!! Just take about fifteen to thirty minutes to meditate, listen to music, tend to your garden, or take a walk (or play video games—not that I would ever play video games or watch anime *coughs*). Just take your mind off your writer’s block for a bit. Eventually, you’ll calm down and have that “eureka” moment.
Tip Four (the Chest plate):
Look at things from a new perceptive. Try sketching an idea. Drawing a character or scene might help you see the story more clearly (again, doesn’t have to be perfect).
Write a poem about the plot; focusing on language and word choice might help you come up with something new. Write what you have as a screenplay; the focus on dialogue and action and less on description might help get the words flowing. Ask/talk to a friend or loved one, sometimes just telling others your concerns can make all the difference. Take the project in chunks. It’s easier to come up with 500 words than 50,000.
Tip Five (the Gauntlets):
Mind mapping. Or whatever way you get organized. Organize your thoughts and not just your writing thoughts. Organize your to-do list, organize your appointments, organize your writing. Plan out what you need to do and when you need to do it and stick to it. Set realistic goals. For instance, say, “I’m going to write 200 words today.” Set boundaries. Tell your family and friends, “I’m writing for an hour, leave me alone,” but in a nice way.
Getting ‘rid’ of those 5,000 things you must do will help to clear your head. Also, by organizing your list of responsibilities, you can see that you only have 50 things to do instead of 5,000.
Tip Six (the Sword):
Inspiration is everywhere. Read the news, go through your Twitter feed, read a book.
Pay attention to the world around you. Just wonder. Wonder about what it’d be like to be a bird. Wonder what life was like in World War II. Wonder why your neighbor is burying a bloody rug in their backyard. Actually, that one you want to call the police about.
And finally, the last one.
Tip Seven (the Horse):
The most important tip (without a horse, you aren’t getting far).
Enjoy the story you’re writing: if you don’t, they won’t. If it’s not fun, then why are you trying to write 50,000 words about it? You won’t come up with something to write about if you hate the idea. If you don’t like spiders, you probably aren’t going to want to spend a month writing about them.
One last semi-tip before I send you off to battle your dragons: Sometimes the dragon is not a bad guy. Sometimes the reason you get writer’s block is because there is nothing more to write about. Sometimes the plot is just a dead end (or is meant to be a short story) and the writer’s block is just warning you of that.
So, don’t just charge blindly at the dragon swinging your mighty sword… maybe the dragon’s not so bad.
After all, in some cultures a dragon is a guardian.
Article by JoeRover2