Thawing Your Writer's BlockWritten by Mary Anne Hahn
When I go through bouts of writer's block, my fingers stiffen, and my brain goes as blank as snowy screen of a television on fritz.
I don't know about you, but I picture writer's block as something cold--like frozen engine of a car in dead of winter, or way your PC sometimes "freezes up" on you when your system gets too busy.
Looking at it that way actually helps to overcome it. Rather than feeling like you are grasping at fog, visualizing writer's block as something three-dimensional can provide you with both strength to confront it, and weapons to conquer it.
How can you thaw your writer's block of ice? Try any or all of following:
1. Chip away at it. No need to write "War and Peace" in one sitting; Tolstoy certainly didn't. Fifteen minutes a day are all you need to give your writing dream some life and structure. Use them to write anything, anything at all--as many article ideas as you can think of, a synopsis of a story idea, a climactic scene in your novel, a limerick, a character sketch, step by step instructions for making perfect omelet or what you would do if you won lottery.
Have some fun with these 15-minute exercises, and you'll probably rediscover truth in adage that "time flies" when you do.
2. Light a match to it. By this I mean, don't think about fact that you are not currently writing; rather, think about why you ever wanted to be a writer in first place. Better yet, *write* about why you want to be a writer. Do you have stories burning inside you that need to be told? Or do you see writing as your key to personal fulfillment or freedom? Melt away writer's block by reigniting your passion for writing--the old daydreams, past feelings of triumph or accomplishment when you finished a piece of work.
LETTING YOUR WRITING SIMMERWritten by Mary Anne Hahn
One of most important lessons I've learned about writing--and one of its most difficult aspects for many of us--is what I've come to call "simmering process."
You've just finished an article, story or query letter, and you get that adrenaline rush that comes with completion of a job well done. Your prose sings. That opening paragraph, one you'd struggled with for days, is perhaps one of finest things you've ever written. Not one word wasted, and nary a dangling participle. You simply can't wait to ship it off to editor, or your agent, or your customer.
But that's exactly what you have to do--wait. In other words, let it simmer a day or two.
But why wait? The sooner you send it out, sooner you'll get acceptance, byline, paycheck, right?
Well, maybe. On other hand, you might be sending your work out before it's truly finished. The piece might still be undercooked, a little raw on inside. And at this point, having just put what you thought was final touch on your creation, you might be standing too close to it to spot its imperfections.
I have learned to let my essays and articles simmer, like a pot of stew on stove, before submitting them. And it constantly amazes me, what I see in an article or essay I've written, after I've stepped away from it for a while. Typos and poor word selections seem to jump off page at me, which I can now correct and improve. That wonderful paragraph that I once believed I could not live without appears unnecessary now, so I remove it. I replace that original lame title with a perfect one, one that will more likely beckon an editor to read it.