Thursday, February 23, 2017

Question from a Writer - More On Writer's Block

I have a question: Sometimes, the problem is not writer's block (at least, I don't think it is.) What happens is that I feel like writing. I want to write. And I know what I want to write. But I start to type and the words will not go together. Just seems like the sentences do not make any sense. The harder I try, the worse the writing gets. Are there exercises that help this problem? What's the best thing to do when this problem hits? 

This is a great question and, actually, it is relatively easy.

Many writers struggle because they fail to remember the concept of the Writing Process. This is something that many seem to believe only works in academic writing, but, in reality, it works for all levels of writing. 

If you study the writing process, you will find a variety of approaches ranging from 3-6 phases of the process. I like to keep things simple and just focus on three. PRE-WRITING, DRAFTING, PUBLISHING. Obviously the pre-writing phase is about planning, outlining, brainstorming and so forth. The drafting is the writing and the publishing is the cleaning things up. For you, it sounds like the problem is showing up in phase 2 and 3.

During the drafting phase, you do write, but you focus only on content of the story. This is not the place where you worry about how things sound. Instead you focus on the content. As you said, "the sentences do not make any sense." My bet is the issue for you is that the words are not sounding the way that you like. In other words, you are trying to do the drafting at the same time as making the sentences "sound pretty" which is what phase 3 is about.

The recommendation is to just write. Don't obsess about the sound of the sentences or the flow of things. This might simply be a plot issue that your brain is trying to work through, and, you will likely discover the answer as you move into the next chapter or scene. 

A second option, and this would work only if you are a plotter, would be to just skip that scene and write the next scene. Again, maybe this is a plotting issue and if you move on, the answer will come to you.

The point is, just write. You can always go back and clean things up later.

Hope that helps!

1 comment:

  1. I believe you are a psychic. Just teasing. I know that you are a great teacher. I am a plotter, and I am stuck in phase 2! I do want the words to be so very perfect. And I think I fell into this rut because I have been hoping that if I can write really well right now, the less mess to clean up later. Obviously, it doesn't work that way and I needed to hear this. (I am so anxious to finish this manuscript.) Thank-you for this advice! I will take it. I will just get this story down, and then I will pretty it up. Again, thanks.