So, here you sit, your eyeballs itching and turning red from staring at those blank white pixels that are taunting you. But, there are tricks we can all use, some of us have been using them for a while. Let me share just a few with you so you can defeat writer’s block.
1. Prepare a QUICK outline. Add a few lines. Oh, and how about adding that great quote you were planning to use?
See? No more blank page.
“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.” — Joyce Carol Oates
2. Read. Read. Read. Read more widely…not just Tweets or your favorite blogs. Read books that don’t allow you to escape or entertain you. Read something that challenges your brain and makes you think.
I can hear your questions… Which tomes are worth the pain? Which are best left on the shelf? Okay, let me suggest a couple of book challenges. How about: The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer? What makes this book a challenge? Well, you’ll never forget where you were when you learned Shakespearean language is really just modern English. Trust me on this because there really was an English centuries earlier that’s even more difficult to understand.
DID YOU KNOW: People read Chaucer translated?
The original is such a chore to read.
Here’s a short quote from one.
“A knyght ther was, and that a worthy man,
That fro the tyme that he first began
To riden out, he loved chivalrie,
Trouthe and honour, fredom and curteisie.
Ful worthy was he in his lordes werre,
As wel in cristendom as in hethenesse,
And evere honoured for his worthynesse.”
OR, pick up Our Lady of the Flowers by Jean Genet (1943).
Why is this a challenge: Well, this classic novel about a drag queen named Divine —yep, I’ll bet anything it’s the inspiration for the frequent John Waters collaborator —is lyrical and free-flowing. It is beautiful to listen to especially when someone is reading from the original French version)…but it is tough to follow.
Here’s an example from the book.
“Adiadne in the labyrinth. The most alive of worlds, human beings with the tenderest flesh, are made of marble. I streww devastation as I pass. I wander dead-eyed through cities and petrified populations.”
Or, read Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (1985). It’s another challenge and I say this in all seriousness.
You can bet your last dime you’re going to be in for something difficult when the prose is described as sparse and expansive. So, what’s the challenge: like his book The Road, McCarthy doesn’t use quotation marks or apostrophes…basically, you’re left to figure it out for yourself. Let me share an example.
“The trust about the world, he said, is that anything is possible. Had you not seen it all from birth and thereby bled it of its strangeness it would appear to you for what it is, a had trick in a medicine show, a fevered dream, a trance bepopulate with chimeras having neither analogue nor precedent, an itinerant carnival, a migratory tentshow whose ultimate destination after many a pitch in many a mudded field is unspeakable and calamitous beyond reckoning.”
3. For 10 minutes, write anything…anything you want to write…even if it’s only three or four words over and over. I’ll bet once you begin this repetition, your creative juices will take over, and when that happens, just keep writing. Maybe it’s your shopping list. Or, a letter to a friend. See? Once your fingers start moving, they remind you how strong your are –YOU CAN DO THIS!
4. Remember…you are not alone. DID YOU KNOW that when novelist Ernest Hemingway was asked about the most frightening thing he had ever encountered, he said, “A blank sheet of paper.” Even the “master of terror”, Stephen King, said the “scariest moment is always just before you start [writing]. After that, things can only get better.”
FEEL BETTER NOW? Is that elephant getting smaller? Okay, then. WRITE!
WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!