Thursday, 25 March 2010

How's your writing boredom threshold?

Imagine if you will that you're out for a walk.  It's a beautiful day and you're full of energy and enthusiasm.  You're wearing new walking gear and you feel it's wonderful to be alive.

When you start, your path is easy, flat with a smooth surface.  Then to your surprise it starts to move uphill.  You pant and puff and your progress slows.  Thank goodness, it's beginning to level out but what's this?  Mud that clings to your boots with no solid ground.  Heavens it's not quicksand is it?

To avoid that danger you try to walk faster but only succeed in sinking deeper.  Oh no will you ever extricate yourself from this mud?

If you've been writing for any time then you may recognise the scenario.  We come up with a fantastic idea for a story, a novel a book about your life, your business or dreams.

We pour words on to the page.  Then one day it feels as if we've run out of steam.  Where last week we wrote 5,000 words without stopping, now we can't manage 500.  What's happening to us?

It doesn't matter how experienced a writer you are it happens.  Sometimes I've worked on text till I'm sick of it.  If I have to change another word I'll scream.

This is a normal part of a writing life.  The difference is that the more experienced you are, the more techniques, ruses and strategies you develop to deal with it.  They'll vary from person to person but however you manage it, at the heart of the problem is a need for a fresh eye.

How do I manage writing boredom and block?
  • Be sure to have more than one project on the go at once.
That's easy for me because I'm usually working on at least 2 client projects at once.  That means I can move backwards and forwards to keep my brain sharpened.  If you don't have that situation, then try different writing genres.  A short story with a screenplay, a novel and a poem.

Challenge and stimulate your creativity by setting a challenge.  A Haiku, a story about a proverb, a set number of words.  Anything goes and works in this situation.
  • Nibble away at the edges of the difficulty.
If you have a major problem with plot, character or layout of a book, then try to divide the problem into smaller chunks.  If your character isn't working, check out what they might be wearing, what they eat, their speech rhythm.  Some detail will give you the insight to move you on.
  • Find a writing buddy
We all need help.  Acknowledge it and where necessary talk your problem through with someone.  They may not come up with a solution, but often you will just by voicing the issue to someone else.

Mud will always exist in writing.  But let's not be stuck in it for longer than we need.

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