Saturday, 6 May 2017

BREAKING DOWN THE WRITER'S BLOCK WALL - Guest post by Caitlin @ Quills & Coffee


I'm so excited to have the lovely Caitlin from Quills & Coffee on the blog today, in the first of a new feature she's created: Swap It Saturday. It's basically when bloggers swap blogs for the day and guest post, and as she's on mine today, I'm on hers, so go check out my post as well! 
Read on to her awesome post below:   

BREAKING DOWN THE WRITER’S BLOCK WALL


Hello, everyone! I am so happy to be returning to A Magical World of Words for another guest post. Thank you, Amy, for having me today! Also, be sure to go visit her over at my blog, Quills & Coffee, to hear her talk about what her favorite books have taught her about writing! --- And there may also be a mention of The Hunger Games, which if you don’t know is like my favorite series of ever, so definitely go check it out =)

I know that many of you are primarily readers, but there are also a great number who are writers. The two worlds, though different, are actually quite similar, because they share one thing – a love for books. For beautiful words, and intriguing plots, and interesting characters you will love even after the story is over.

There is also another commonality --- someone had to write those words. Every book has an author, whether it is someone else, or whether it is you. If you fall into the latter category, I will hopefully be able to show you how reading (and a number of other things) can help you power through one of the biggest struggles writers face… writer’s block.


WHAT IS WRITER’S BLOCK?

First, let’s establish what writer’s block actually is. My favorite definition comes from the Oxford Dictionary, which defines writer’s block as, “The condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing”.
The reason I love this definition so much is because it uses the word think. The entire essence of writer’s block can be summed up into this one word--- THINK.

“You can’t think yourself out a writing block. You have to write yourself out of a thinking block.” – John Rogers

When we sit down to write, and stare at that blinking cursor on a blank page, our internal voice might say, “I can’t think of anything to write”. When this idea plants itself into our head, we might shut the laptop and go watch TV, or scroll through social media. We might avoid writing.
Some might say that stepping away from your writing can help, and in certain instances, it can. However, if you step away for too long, you have the opposite effect. Think of writer’s block like cement. You know those huge rollers which you see at construction sites? Their job is to turn the cement. Does the cement harden into a cinder block inside the truck? No, of course not! Why is that, though? --- Because the wet cement doesn’t harden while it’s being churned. Only when you pour the cement and let it sit does it turn to concrete.
Now translate that to writer’s block… Writing is the wheel which “churns” the cement. Only once you stop writing will it turn to concrete. That concrete grows harder and harder, until it becomes almost impossible to break through. At this point, you have reached the most difficult kind of writer’s block --- the kind that can sometimes last for months, or even years.


HOW DO WE PREVENT WRITER’S BLOCK?

Unfortunately, there is really no surefire way to prevent writer’s block. There will always be moments when you feel unmotivated or stuck. Our biggest issue is often, though, that we are striving not just to write, but to write good material. This simple difference can mean so much!
If you wait until you feel inspired to write, you will probably write very sparsely. Inspiration is fickle – sometimes it’s there, and sometimes it’s not. If professional/published authors waited until they felt inspired to write, we might get a new release once every few years. The point is not to write great material every time you put your fingers to the keys. The point is just to write.

“I'm writing a first draft and reminding myself that I'm simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” –Shannon Hale

Shannon Hale is one of my favorite authors, and she hits the nail on the head with this statement. Writing is not about creating castles from the start. When you are drafting, your goal should be to just finish the story.
There are lots of people out there who have the desire to write a book. A fraction of them actually start. An even smaller fraction of those people ever finish.
What stands in their way is not writer’s block. It is self-doubt disguised as “writer’s block”. Don’t worry about your skill, or whether what you are writing is good or not. Just get the story down. You can always edit later.


HOW DO WE GET OUT OF A WRITER’S BLOCK SLUMP?


Many times, we get ourselves into a slump, and it’s very, very hard to get back out. It happens! I’ve experienced it many times, and every other writer has too! How can we break down that wall once it’s already turned to cement?
- READ
Book-lovers unite! Reading is so important to being a writer. In fact, it was the topic of my last guest post here at A Magical World of Words! You can read it here HERE

Reading often gets the imagination flowing again, which in turn can help bring back that motivation to write. I know that after I’ve read a great book or seen an awesome movie, I am usually super excited to get to writing!
I won’t go into detail as to all the advantages that reading holds for a writer, but let’s just say there are many, many, MANY. So read widely, frequently, deeply, and happily. Support other writers and just have fun! If you are stuck in a writer’s block rut, give your mind a break. If your writer brain is a well, books are the water, and reading them helps give you a store to pull from when it comes time to write.

- JUST WRITE
Literally, this is the best writer’s block advice I or anyone else could give you. You simply must put your butt in the chair and push through all that writing you know is bad. I talked about this on my blog recently, and used the analogy of our water when we first moved into our house. It hadn’t been used in a while, so it smelled horrible! If we had just left the water off, would it have gone away on its own? No! We had to get the bad water out in order to reach the good water. Your prime writing material is that good water. Sometimes, you have to slog through some bad stuff to get there.

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” – Louis L’Amour

Speaking of water! That quote from Louis L’Amour is probably one of my favorites of all time. It is so simple, but so powerful. Even if you have no idea where the story will go next, and you feel like every word you write is awful, keep going. You can always edit a bad word, but you can’t edit an unwritten one. So write!
Persevere. Break down the wall. And write.



Caitlin is the mind behind Quills & Coffee, where she shares tips, tools, & encouragement for writers. She writes YA sci-fi/fantasy novels, and is currently querying her second book, WHAT LIES ABOVE, while drafting her third. When she’s not writing or working, you can find her reading, composing piano, and adding endless destinations to her travel bucket list. Or quite possibly eating dark chocolate.



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I’m sure you’ve met the writer’s block wall before. How did you overcome it? Any secret tips & tricks the rest of us can benefit from? Share in the comments!

8 comments:

  1. Thank you so much again for having me, Amy! This was so much fun =) And your post was wonderful... I loved reading it!

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    1. My pleasure, it was awesome! And your post is WONDERFUL!
      Aww thank you :)

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  2. THIS IS A REALLY COOL POST. I love posts that go in-depth into topics like these! Writer's block is a huge term that I encountered ever since I entered the world of writing and this is handy to use to explain to other people :)

    - Andrea at A Surge of Thunder

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    1. Thank you, Andrea! I'm so glad you found it helpful! Writer's block really IS a very broad term =) I am so happy you are passing on what you know/learn to other writers! Thank you for commenting!

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  3. What an absolutely wonderful post and a great idea (Swap-it Saturday!) It's so hard to explain to anyone what exactly is writer's block and it also attacks us writer dragons in the weirdest of ways! When I get writer's block I stop writing for the moment. Forcing myself to write gives disastrous results that might end with me breathing fire onto my books and burning them :P I generally switch to doing other things like crafting until I get rid of the block BUT I've noticed that using Pinterest to look at my storyboards helps rid my writer's block a lot faster! Thanks for the post Caitlin and also love that quote by Shannon Hale :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Uma! So glad you enjoyed it! Yes, I too often wish I could breathe fire on the words I write when uninspired :D But you can always go back and edit! The first draft is just about getting the story down. And isn't that quote wonderful?

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