On “Writer’s Block”

 In writing

A friend of mine recently posted a link to a list of things to do to overcome writer’s block. Upon reading it, however, only one of the 4 things they listed actually involved writing.

It might’ve been more appropriate to call it “a list of things to do INSTEAD of writing.”

Many of my friends and I are of the school of thought that writer’s block doesn’t really exist. What we call “writer’s block” is more a lack of motivation to write, usually coupled by too many distractions keeping you from getting to your story.

And life is full of distractions, or we lose motivation on a project for various reasons. These things happen – but they can be overcome by reigniting that passion for your characters or your story. Usually, they can be overcome by simply writing SOMETHING.

Brian K Vaughn (Runaways, Saga) says that anyone who fancies themselves a writer needs to write a minimum of 7 pages per day. Could be anything, really (HOPEFULLY it’s your story), but the point is that writers write.

If someone’s having difficulty writing, I would recommend a series of writing exercises to get you going if you’re feeling unmotivated or distracted.

Some good exercises for writing would include:
1) Write a scene from a book, movie or comic without referencing the actual work; your favorite scene – something you’re passionate about.

Matt Fraction does this from pages from completed comics; he breaks them down and tries to figure out the script. He uses it as a warm up exercise.

2) Write a blog or diary entry, review a movie or event you went to. Something to get you in front of the keyboard. Something to get you started, to get your fingers moving, to get your mind engaged.

3) Dramatize something that happened to you the other day. Make it more interesting, more exciting, or more tragic.

Plot is built up of 4 elements: character, situation, environment, and time (Alan Moore (Watchmen, Swamp Thing) put this observation into some great essays he wrote and later published into a small comic-sized book).

Play with them in a familiar scenario, or (and I recommend this) go outside your comfort zone and write them in a different genre. What would your trip to the grocery store yesterday be like if it were a horror movie? Romantic comedy? Science fiction story? The possibilities are endless.

4) The most important thing you can do: write SOMETHING. An e-mail, a letter, your resume. Anything.

5) DO THE WORK! Is it the current scene that’s perplexing you? Skip it! Move onto another scene.

Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Avengers) rewards himself for writing anything, and he always writes his favorite parts first. This way, he’s passionate about the work and constantly working on his favorite parts. I call this “eating the frosting first.” Hey, if it gets you writing, who cares.

What are some other writing exercises you do to help get you going?

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