Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Whilst You Wait on the Muse...

On IWSG blog hop days*, I read a lot of posts by writers suffering writer's block. Not being able to get into the word-count groove causes stress and breeds doubt and insecurity. My advice to blocked-up writers is usually to power through. To flip on the computer, open the file, and write. Even if they think every word they write is crap. It's still good, because crap makes excellent fertilizer and eventually, the good stuff will grow from it.

But there are times when even crap won't come. No matter how long a writer stares at the screen, there's nothing. I've hit that same wall and I have a couple more solutions:



Walk Away. 

There is probably some non-writing related project that is needing attention. Pick the most boring job and tackle it. Clean out a closet, scrub a tub...do something (anything) that is both dreadful and non-writing related.

Eventually, your brain will get bored and stories will start nagging you.
The problem with walking away for too long is writing/publishing is also about gaining momentum and a prolonged stop could mean starting over.


So, there is a second option- one that doesn't halt the momentum....

Get Busy!
Writing is a multi-faceted cornucopia of work. A writer could be busy twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and there would still be work left undone. On the days that the words won't come, here's a list of other things a writer can do whilst whiling away the hours between paragraphs:

 


Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, etc. There are plenty of platforms to join to interact with readers. Post, tweet, share...begin a dialogue and keep it going. This is important to me because as a READER nothing annoys me more than ONLY hearing from a writer when they want me to buy a book.That is probably odd considering I grew up in a time when writers were mostly faceless entities who lived in towers and sent out new stories via carrier pigeon or maybe magic. But those days are over, even Nora Roberts's Instagram account is active between calls to buy her books. Sure, it's most likely manned by her staff, but still, she's making contact and making it personal. 

No book to sell? Perfect time to build a following and be launch ready when the time comes.

Blog. A blog offers the opportunity to write in small, manageable chunks which can get the juices flowing. And even though blogging may not be as popular as it once was, it remains the home of some of my most loyal support in the writing world. The insecure Writers Support Group monthly blog hop is a great place to start making connections.

Network. Writer's groups (both online, like the IWSG, or the In Real Life variety), blogging, and attending writer events are a great use of time. Meeting other writers and sharing information and support are great ways to make connections and friendships. Any time I meet someone who has paid thousands of dollars to publish a book through a vanity press, I feel sad for them because I know they probably don't have many (if any) writer friends.

Study. Authors, editors, agents, publishers...almost anyone in the business has some advice to offer. There is an endless supply of free help on the internet. Check out blog posts, interviews, podcasts, and videos for useful information on every topic from craft to marketing.

Read!! Nothing is a better balm to the writer's soul than reading. Beta reads, pleasure reads, educational reads. If you can't be writing, be reading. Good books, bad books, all books! There are millions of them out there for your consumption- take advantage of them!


                                                                               ~*~

*The Insecure Writers Support Group offers a monthly blog hop where members can vent, share, and encourage one another in this intrepid adventure we call writing. If you're not already participating, join us!



Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay
 Image by klimkin from Pixabay

16 comments:

Liza said...

Love this list. Yesterday, I was reading and really appreciating the author's voice. I thought to myself, how wonderful that something so fun can also provide a learning experience!

R's Rue said...

Thank you.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Excellent list of alternatives!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Thanks, Liza!

Jemi Fraser said...

Great advice! I find that those boring jobs - or walking on my treadmill - often get my brain kickstarted again!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I'm busy, I'm busy!

cleemckenzie said...

Yep. There's always something you can do to trick your mind into getting back to the business of writing.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I love your list. And they make you feel like you're accomplishing something too.

Pat Hatt said...

Yeah, the ones that only show up when they have a new book can take a hike. I enjoy instagram, a little escapism, and just blog away at our bay.

Juneta key said...

Great advice. Lots of good tricks to use. Happy IWSG!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Excellent advice. I do most of those when I get stuck.

Janet said...

Great suggestions! I'd add 2 more: free writing and exercise. Sometimes I can write my way out of a problem by taking the pressure off and just writing whatever nonsense enters my head (sophisticated people call that, "stream of consciousness"). Sometimes I name my writing problem and write whatever comes to mind in response, or I brainstorm ideas related to my current project, or I just babble on about whatever. Exercise is pretty self-explanatory, but my favorite kind is a brisk walk with my favorite loud music. Sometimes I'll listen to music that I think will inspire me, but usually I let rip with my favorite 80s hair metal to clear out the cobwebs.

Debra Renée Byrd said...

Thank you!

Karen Baldwin said...

Great list! I need to read that list every day!

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J.Q. Rose said...

Great list to help clear away the cobwebs and get back to writing.
JQ Rose