Many authors seem to echo Laurence Sterne's words which I quoted in my last blog: "I begin with writing the first sentence - and trusting to Almighty God for the second." See also http://flavorwire.com/343207/13-famous-writers-on-overcoming-writers-block/11
10 ways of 'unblocking' - with some authors' illustrations:
- Lay a brick - write a word. Pick up an object. Write something; improving nothing's impossible. “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.’” — Maya Angelou
- Trust your subconscious. Doodle, and label it.
- Answer the 50 questions on character (Google and you'll get a variety: http://www.ageofintrigue.com/wiki/index.php/50_questions_To_Ask_Your_Character)
- Picture an image. Write a list. (see earlier blog of 8.01.2014) "Of course there will be days when the stuff is not flowing freely. What you do then is MAKE IT UP.... Writer’s block is a condition that affects amateurs and people who aren’t serious about writing. So is the opposite, namely inspiration, which amateurs are also very fond of. Putting it another way: a professional writer is someone who writes just as well when they’re not inspired as when they are.” — Philip Pullman
- 'Don't get it right - get it written.' Write a statement, then branch outwards into cause and consequence. “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” — Mark Twain
- Give yourself a break - go for a walk. Listen. Look. “If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” — Hilary Mantel
- Leave it alone. Attack a different piece of writing. Or return to something you wrote earlier. "Put it aside for a few days, or longer, do other things, try not to think about it." Neil Gaiman. "If you’ve got a writer’s block, you can cure it this evening by stopping whatever you’re writing and doing something else. You picked the wrong subject." Ray Bradbury 2001.
- Make a commitment. Set a date with a friend when you will read them something you've written. "If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time. Count on me, you are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write.” — Norman Mailer
- Pretend, play-act, role-play: “Pretend that you’re writing not to your editor or to an audience or to a readership, but to someone close, like your sister, or your mother, or someone that you like.” John Steinbeck.
- Read - copy, imitate or respond. For example, spend half an hour listening to Tessa Hadley's 'Bad Dreams' - written for BBC's NSSA (broadcast 22.9.2014) which begins: 'A child woke up in the dark...' http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/nssa. Tessa is a professor at Bath Spa University, teaching mainly on the MA in Creative Writing.
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