Writer’s Block is a Real Thing

If you’re a writer, then at some point in your life you’ve encountered the dreaded writer’s block.  Hell, if you’ve written a school essay you’ve encountered it.

It’s real.  It’s horrible.  It sucks.

It happened to me the other day and I was quite surprised by it.  I know.  You must be thinking, “Ummm Cristina, this is nothing new to you right?”

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I’m sure it’s not! I just can’t remember the last time I had it.

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It was bad. The bro had it as well.

We’re in the mad rush to write and finish Musical #2 (yet to have a title) for some festival deadlines.  Let me preface on how we write first.  We have a detailed outline (I’d show it to you, but SPOILERS).  From said outline, we decide what the tone will be for the scene or what we want to accomplish.  Then we either sit near one another or in separate rooms and commune via AIM.  We both start writing the scene.  Half way through we ask one another, “Do you have anything?” Sometimes one of us does.  Sometimes the other doesn’t.  Sometimes we both do.  We end up going off of whatever one person writes; either tweaking it to make it better or taking the best from both our versions.

So the other day, we were trying to write this opening scene.  And we literally BOTH stared at our computer screens.

“Do you have anything?”
“Nada.”

We did this for about an hour.  It was so frustrating! We knew exactly what we wanted to get across in that scene, who was going to be in it, what we had to establish, it was just the execution that was out of our reach.

Finally, I said, “You know what, I’m just not feeling this scene.  I really feel like I want to write this scene later in Act I” “Then go for it,” the bro responds.

Well, I did.  It was crap, but I wrote something down.

BRO: “Do you have anything? Cause I’m suffering from writer’s block on this damn scene.”
ME: “Maybe? It feel like it’s crap, but what about this?”
BRO: “Ok, we need to expand more on this, but it’s not a bad base.”

The end of that session, we both came to some conclusions on writing.  On the Air was our first musical.  We had no idea what the hell we were doing–ok, maybe we had some idea; we are English majors.  The point being, our horrible first draft (which will never see the light of day and continue to live with the dust bunnies under my bed) was a spew of words and dialogue; paragraphs of nonsense, exposition, verbatim, and cheesiness.  But over the developmental process we streamed all that away.  We learned a LOT doing that.

I think this was a major cause of my writer’s block.  I didn’t want the first draft for this musical to be as bad as the one for On the Air.  I was trying to edit it without having anything there to edit (if that makes sense).  I explained my concern to the bro and he gave me some sound advice.

“Honestly, I think we just need to write.  It can be crap, but just get it on the page and we’ll fix it from there.  Better to have too much and pull back, than not enough.”

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The bro is a genius. (Don’t tell him I said that).  Why didn’t I think of that? DUH.

That’s a saying in acting that I tell my kids when I direct all the time.  I’d rather they give me too much in their performance so we can scale it down rather than not enough.  It’s harder to create something out of nothing than changing and adapting what’s already there.

Like I said earlier, I’d had writer’s block before and I dealt with it in various ways, but this was something new–I was afraid of it being bad.  Well, newsflash! Your first draft is going to be bad.  Even your second.  It’s going to be absolute crap and you’re going to be embarrassed to show to people, but you have to in order to make it better.  That’s just part of the whole writing process.  Something I never realized until being faced with writing my second piece.

So, for those of you writing (and I’m sure a lot of you are since it’s NANOWRIMO month), I’ve listed a few suggestions I’ve done recently and in the past to get over my writer’s block.

Just Write
Get it on the page.  It can be absolute drivel, but have something staring back at you by the end of a session.  Once you start writing, you’ll get into the groove of it and it’ll end up being less crappy than you think it will.

Change your environment
We did this a few times with On the Air and the bro does it a lot when he’s writing his novels.  Get out of our normal writing environment.  Go to a café (as cliché as it sounds) or a library or a restaurant or your doctor’s waiting room office.  Sometimes getting away from the things you see on a daily bases shocks your brain into writing.

Take a break
This can be dangerous, but often needed.  Just stop.  Give your mind a break.  Go make some lunch.  Go watch TV. Go hang out with friends. Let your mind not wander to what you’re writing about.  You’ll come back to it refreshed and hopefully raring to go!

Read/See something
The same day we had that horrible writer’s block, the bro and I went and saw a show.  It REALLY helps because you learn to see what you want to do and what you don’t want to do.  After that, I wanted to get home and write.  Same goes for reading a good book.

Exercise
I’m a runner.  It’s a very solitary/mind driven sport.  Sometimes the added physical element helps me to focus in on what I’m having an issue with and get inspired.  Running away from your neighbors dog also helps scare it into you.  If running isn’t your thing, go take a walk, lift weights, do yoga, go to crossfit; just get out there!

I hope that helped! I’d love to hear what you’re writing and how you deal with writer’s block! Lemme know in the comments below!

 

 

 

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