Some days my writing comes naturally, flocking like the salmon of Capistrano, ebb and flow as smoothly as – well, you get the idea. It’s like I’m on this path and can run freely, walk and enjoy the view, or even stop to smell the roses.
When I struggle with my writing, it’s like that path becomes a tunnel. There’s a light at the end, but some weeks those tunnels are long, muddy, and that light seems far away. This is where I’ve been at for the last several weeks and that tunnel was pretty dark and cold and lonely (Where the hell were you by the way! Oh, wait…Twitter.)
With every book I write, I find there are more than a few periods of internal conflict where the story is trying to break free but doesn’t quite make it to my keyboard. When it finally happens, it’s like the world is sighing, but until it does – I’m still stuck.
These are the things I do to get through my tunnel and back to enjoying the view. Some things I do are probably obvious, but I’m hoping that by sharing, one or more ideas will help you. Maybe you’ll even share with me what you do. I’m always open to more ideas!
- Go for a walk: Honestly, I get more story telling done when I walk than I ever do typing on a keyboard.
- Drink booze: Yup, I said that. There is this zone between 2 drinks and 6 when I can play darts and write creatively. (It’s that same zone others drink themselves into so they can laugh at my jokes.)
- Ask your characters: I was pacing in my man cave because I was totally stumped what two of my characters were going to do, so I asked them. No, they don’t actually answer, no voices in my head that I’m willing to talk about. But it makes a lot of sense to try and get in your character’s head and answer that simple question, “If this happened, what would you do?”
- Clean and organize: My wife has to love this part. Sometimes, to clear my mind, I have to clear the mess.
- Music: I’ve said this before, I love movie scores. They are inspiring without distracting lyrics. (Depending on the soundtrack, my car rides are often very exciting!) This goes very well with walking.
- People watching: Not to be a creeper, but stalking, er, I mean watching groups of people is fascinating. You can learn a lot a by watching them interact, especially if you can fit some of them into your story.
- Punch my way through it like Superman fighting a horde of alien invaders! Really, sometimes I’ll stay up to 2am just to fight through a chapter, beating out the idea and writing roughshod the entire time to clean it up later.
- Exercise and eating vegetables: Does absolutely nothing for creativity, avoid at all cost!
Writer’s block can be bad, and days when writing is slow can be incredibly frustrating. I like the saying “You’ve got to take the good with the bad” but for me it tends to be you’ve got to get through the bad in order to get to the good. When I get lost in that tunnel I have to remind myself what I tell friends at the end of their bad days. “It’s good you got that out of the way so you can move onto something better.”
Now that I’ve shared, it’s your turn. What do you do when you are in the tunnel?