Sunday, 17 March 2013

Beating Writers’ Block - Fear



Most creative people I’ve worked with tell me when they have stopped producing it’s because they have frozen inside. The fear that what they are going to create might ‘not be any good’ paralyses them. 

I have a way around this and I’m sure it’s common to many writers. I always use Stephen King’s philosophy which is to ‘get the story down’. In a first draft, whilst in the back of your mind you always need to consider avoiding clichés and trying to aim for distinctive detail, don’t worry about whether it sounds good, is original, sounds like someone else, will impress your girlfriend/agent/Sunday Times reviewer. Your duty is to get the story that is in your head down on paper – that’s all. Just get the words down. The next word – that is ALL you ever need. The next word. Finish the sentence, the scene, the chapter. Put ‘X’ if you can’t think of the right word. My manuscripts are riddled with ‘X’s, but when I go back, I often know immediately which word is missing.

One you’ve got the story down, you can go back and tweak (or heavily hack with a chain-saw.) The good thing is you’ve got something concrete to work with – not just vague ideas swirling around in your head. You can ask yourself questions like: is this what I really meant here? Are these the best words? Is it overwritten? Is it lacking in detail? Is the pace right? Is it too much like writing I’ve read many times before? You can add, take things out, edit, change the rhythm, swap sentences around. And you can do it as many times as you want.

Relishing the early signs of Spring...
A further tip next time about writers’ block…