FROM WRITER’S BLOCK TO WRITER’S BOUNTY!
1. There’s no such thing!
Perhaps the first thing you can do to overcome this thing formerly known as writer’s block is to stop validating its existence. In other words, stop saying it! Don’t believe the hype. As long as your brain is functioning and as long as the universe exists, your book is being created. As long as you can manage any thought at all about your book, the universe is always at work bringing that thought into existence! The creative force of the universe never takes a vacation, never goes on strike, and can never be blocked. Whether you realize it or not, there are many aspects to your book’s creation beyond simply putting words to paper. For instance, on the creative side, your book requires character development, plot tweaking, and world creation. On the marketing side, you need a press release, website content, and your bio. On the sales side, you need to compile a list of bookstores, libraries, and websites to contact. Putting words on the page is only one aspect of a much larger creative process required for your book to exist.
Therefore, if at any given moment, you feel that the words-on-the-page part is not working for you, it may be an indication—-an opportunity, in fact—to focus on other seemingly unrelated but divinely connected aspects of creation. Your “book” in all its many facets is always communicating with you.
Feel stuck? You might find that working on the website sales copy gives you some ideas that your book requires in order to improve itself.
At a loss for words to write? You might find that fleshing out the characters’ society, their language and individual backstories helps to give you new ideas to move the story along.
Staring at a blank screen? It might be your characters’ way of telling you you don’t know enough about their personalities and motivations; create a character outline that includes personality type, soul age, life theme, and even your characters’ Myer’s Briggs test score so you understand each character a little better.
Your book is more than just a book, and your ever-expanding “to do” list should include research, administrative, sales and marketing tasks as well as future ideas. There is always something you can be doing that is essential to the overall project you are creating.
When confronted with “writer’s block,” therefore, I suggest to you that the real challenge is not that you have nothing to do, but that you have too much to do, and what you perceive to be a block is actually a bounty you’re not noticing! Once you commit to any book project, you set the creative forces of the universe into motion, and each aspect of this book’s reality will make itself known to you for you to organize, prioritize and implement—and not always in the order and sequence you might expect! A book is more than just a book. Get to work!
At the same time, there are, in fact certain things you can do to stimulate the creative process and take advantage of that bounty. Here are a few suggestions:
2. Work from lists
With that in mind, if you make a habit of adding to your task list every idea, chapter title, plot twist, cool new vocabulary word, sales channel or research item that pops into your head when you’re not actually writing, then on those days you’re not inspired to create dialogue, you’ll always have something you can do to push the project further along.
3. Find your best time
What time of day are you most creative? Morning? Night? Many creatives find that early mornings are their most inspired and productive. In the morning, there’s less noise and cosmic static in the ether. During sleep, your brain has been cycling through slower, high amplitude brainwave activity, and has just emerged from the “theta” brainwave state of increased creativity, emotional connection, intuition and relaxation, as well as deep sleep “delta” activity during which your body heals and rejuvenates (your body is cleaner after a night of fasting), and, therefore, your brain’s ability to tune in to the frequency of creativity is at its height.
4. Worry not about sequence
Some writers feel “blocked” because they believe that books must be written in the order they are read. In other words, they believe they should write chapter 1, then chapter 2, then chapter 3. Many times, a book’s last sentence will be the first thing that comes to me. Other times, plot ideas, dialogue and other content will simply show up in the order they are inspired by the universe. Your mission, as writer, is to recognize that your book will often create itself in its own order. Don’t worry about sequence when you write. Write down whatever comes to mind with the understanding that it may fit into the overall story or content in a completely different sequence when the book is finished. In fact, some of the ideas of any good brainstorm might not be related to the book you’re working on. They could be a sequel, prequel or “next in a series” idea pushing through you, and the universe, in its infinite wisdom, requires that this new idea manifest before (or while) you develop the idea you were originally focused on. Trust that there is magic to the creative process that you will grow to appreciate.
5. Find a focus
One way to turn block into bounty is to narrow your focus and gain clarity on why you’re writing the book and what you wish to achieve. I always begin all my book projects by writing “Why am I writing this book?” Most times I even include that section in the book so the reader, too, is aware of the purpose of the book. Ask and answer, “What do I wish to achieve?” “Whom do I wish to reach?” You can also include these ideas in sections titled “Who is this book for?” “What will this book do for you?” or “What will this book not do for you?”
Gaining such clarity on the goal, purpose and target audience of your book helps you decide what to include and what to save for a different book. Find your book’s true focus.
6. Learn the language
Science fiction writers who are creating new worlds and new realities might wish to spend a little time creating a glossary of words in their world’s native language. Knowing your characters’ language will help you understand them when they speak to you in the early morning hours of writing!
7. Know Thyself
The more you learn about yourself, the better your writing becomes. What’s your Myer’s Brigg’s type? What moves you to action? What’s your life theme? Soul age? Communication style? Astrological sign? Whether or not you personally subscribe to the philosophies behind these labels, simply knowing a little about how people have organized aspects of identity, purpose, destiny and behavior for centuries can only help you write better. At the very least, it can help you create more interesting characters!
8. Discover archetypes
Storytelling is an art as old as time. The best stories from biblical tales to Star Wars have used certain character templates that all great tales share. Search online for Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces to learn about the hero, the mentor, the threshold guardian, the trickster, and other archetypes. The more you know about these, the more you participate in the rich bounty of the storytelling tradition.
9. Check your diet (or lack thereof)
The pesticides, steroids, antibiotics, sugars, preservatives, flavorings, coloring, etc., in your food affect your physiology, your brain function, your energy level, your mood and thus your creativity. While some people claim enhanced creativity through the use of stimulants, mind-altering substances, alcohol, tobacco, etc., I suggest that clean living, clean food, and even no food (fasting) might enhance your creativity!
Channel your sexual energy into the creative process. Decide not to indulge your carnal desires (no orgasm or ejaculation) and you might find your creativity is enhanced.
Bonus: Take my best advice
Finally, my best advice for stepping over writer’s block and wading into writer’s bounty is to think of writing as a process of allowing—not one of construction. Again, imagine that your book—whether fiction or non-fiction—as an entity having a will and wish of its own. Believe that your book already exists—fully formed—within the ether of the universe. Your book is an idea with a will to exist and a wish to manifest in a particular form, and it has chosen you to be its advocate, champion, and channel for that existence. There is a “best” or “optimal” way for your book to manifest. Your task is to get silent, get clean, get out of the way, and get better at listening to the still, small voice within—that voice is your book speaking to you. Listen intently, and it will teach you how to turn writer’s block into writer’s bounty! Walt F.J. Goodridge (Special to the Saipan Tribune)
Author’s note: The passage above is taken from the author’s Turn Your Passion Into Profit as a Writer.