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Slaying the mightiest dragon of them all: Writers block...

Or how instantly change direction when something really important slaps you in the face.


People just don't understand. You have all these brilliant ideas bouncing around in your head, and despite your best laid plans, something hugely important blows a hole in your linear plan. Or...since we are all creative types here, it's more likely you DO understand.


When I teach a the university level (which is all I teach in. My brother the high school teacher didn't have as much flexibility) I'll have a class humming along, and out of the nowhere, someone asks a really important question. From that point on, the one student who had the chutzpah to speak up and give voice to perhaps most of the class who didn't understand something (or understood it differently) changed the lesson plan.


And that is a great thing!


What the devil are you talking about Mike? Just this. Like in a class, a couple of brilliant writers have messaged me with things I hadn't considered. They haven't joined a discussion here, yet, and that harks back to my younger days when I was invited to lots of parties, but no one ever came to mine... :o(>




Yes, to the point. I had a writer suggest a newsletter. Now being new to the marketing angle of writing, a neophyte, and someone who doesn't know what hell he's doing, I'm going to work on that. And, try to understand how it works. More later...


Suffice to say, putting your characters to work: a how to, is postponed until next week. Bear with me.


As another brilliant young writer told me, the most daunting thing she runs into...lots...is writers block. Being blessed with a wandering mind, that almost never happens to me. So I HAD assumed it was just an old cliche that people use to explain away a lack of discipline.


As I have said many times in my time running circles around the sun, I was wrong.


A student in the class just showed me the error of my ways, so I'm stopping to address that which is the hardest for all of us; explaining and fixing something we don't understand. For help, I did what all great scholars do...


I googled the problem. I was fascinated by some of the solutions.


On the Grammarly blog (please please please get Grammarly Pro! I'm not a paid endorser, but a true believer!) The first I saw out of the typical drink coffee, go for a walk, throw yourself down the stairs (kidding...please don't do that) advice was.... Do something you haven't done since you were a kid. Genius.


Think about it, you already know you're creative and don't think like other people. You have know-it-alls like me telling you to formalize the process and structure your writing. That, is an adult, non-spontaneous, rigid process. Works for me, but what if for many it actually stifles creativity?


In my book, Sagittarian Blue, two of the main characters have rediscovered the simple joy of stargazing and imagining patterns in what they see in the night sky. Kaito says to Lark..."gazing at the stars always gave me such a sense of wonder. Then, somebody thought we should learn about them in school, and it took all the magic out of it."


I wrote that, and didn't get it. Lark and Kaito had to open their minds if they were going to have the ability to accept a world altering truth. Star gazing was set up by the protagonist as the final step in their journey. You, me, all of us started writing because of the wonder of it all. The magic. Structure and planning doesn't lead to magic and wonder. We need to open our minds too.


But we need structure, unless you are a great free range writer with no intrinsic mental barriers. So maybe...there needs to be a disconnect between your formal, and creative approach to writing.


Now what are you babbling on about Mike??


Just this. What if writing the first draft is a two stage process? What if...you attack the structure formally first. All that involves is what you've already conceived. You have the idea, which is certainly going to grow and evolve as you write, and that is all that is needed for your outline.


THEN take a break, force yourself! Gather your thoughts. Let it roll around in your mind. Make it a set time, or not, and during that period you will not violate the sanctity of goofing off and not writing. Don't plan, but let the notions come and go as they will. Keep that pad handy, ready to record brilliance, but DO NOT make it formal.


I suggest mindlessly having a party with friends or family. Going on a bender. Like my wife, buy a stack of coloring books. Take a walk in a forest. Whatever still puts you in awe, connect with it. Get in touch with your inner child who was so full of wonder...


And will be again, every time you create.


Maybe writers block is nothing more than our inner kid-self rebelling against the adult we had to become to make a living. The paradox of freely letting our minds go to enable creativity, when we were told for years to put away such foolish things. Take the time to get the adult out of your system, and go play a metaphorical game of hopscotch. When you're ready, you'll know.


Writing is foolish. A waste of time when you could be doing the dishes or mowing the lawn. But I love it. I bet you do too.


Next Week: Putting your characters to work. I promise.


Unless a mind bunny comes along and I chase it down some unforeseen passage into a new world. Well, it worked for Lewis Carrol...


Take care every one. Be well and happy.









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