The Monster… WRITERS BLOCK!
Welcome one and all to my blog!
For All Hallows Eve (look, if you haven’t figured out I’m Australian by now here is you’re cue), I wish to present to those on the cusp and preparing for the dreaded thirty days of mayhem, trauma, and soul crushing despair, faced during the course of Nanowrimo, the kind of foe which every writer has come to know…
*buffs nails* Nope.
I’ve won Nano the last four years in a row and I am going to give you a crash course on how to get this DONE.
And in case that wasn’t enough, I plan on writing TEN NOVELS IN 2019. Two of them in Nano. Who’s a loon?? THIS AUTHOR! But I’ve done the dreaded math and guess what? I can do it.
Want to know my secrets? come closer…
- Writing Sprints.
If you are a writer you may have heard of these sprints.
The challenge is simple; set a timer of minutes, 5, 15, 20, 30, 60 and do nothing but write. No alt tabbing, no phone, no Twitter, you WRITE. You challenge yourself to get those words in, as many as you can. You don’t stop, don’t breath, don’t break for the bathroom.
I said WRITE!
When I started I think I got about 100 words in my first 20 minute sprint. With six years of writing under my belt I can get in about 2.5k in an hour.
Where this can go wrong is decisions/plotpoints/and the dreaded block, but I’ll discuss this below.
If you are a pantser (you write the story with no idea of where it is going to go) you are going to THRIVE on sprints.
If you are a plotter I suggest as minimal guidance to do a one line/paragraph on every chapter which will at least give you direction.
Yes, this method is really intense, but with good practice it does work. My last record for an 80k book using this method was written in 25 days and subsequently picked up by Indie press, Literary Wanderlust. (AFTER A BUTT LOAD OF EDITS).
There are several discord channels with this as a function and everyone joins in. It becomes a team and group effort. I will also have a pinned thread advertising when I am going into a sprint for Nanowrimo 2019.
This can be very difficult to accomplish if you have people who need your attention in your life; kids, family, loved ones with special needs (including yourself). It does not work for everyone, find what works for you.
The hero’s weary horse reaches the cusp of a valley leading to… a foreign kingdom, surveying the twisting river called… called… the twisting river, wrapping around the castle of… of… a castle in the distance, and our hero,… who is our hero… he has a name… wtf is his name… Our hero, sighs in relief at having reached….
Whether you pants, or plot, do the prep before you start by having a guide of name generators booked marked in your web browser so you aren’t wasting time finding the “right” name. Get ANY name and move on.
You can fix it later, you can find replace weird names you don’t like, just get something close and move on with the script. Here is a helpful guide on generators for you, just to get you through.
Book mark them. Thank me anytime. No really, please, I did a lot to find these.
Damien walked into the tavern, and it was a tavern… that had beer… and people drinking it.
Put a freaking X there and move on. Adding descriptive scenes can come later, don’t get caught up worry about it if you just feel the story tugging you along. Yes, I hate doing this, it bugs the crap out of me, but I’d rather let the flow of the story carry me along than worry about a thirty second scene in a second rate motel. Seriously, I’d only give it 2 stars, I think I saw a rat.
You can come back to these scenes, you can fix them later… which brings me to my next point.
- DON’T EDIT
I mean it.
Yeah, I’m looking at you. I know the sort. I see you… just like I’ve seen parts of myself.
Seeking the perfect series of words…
The first to take out the blade to carve slices out of their darlings…
Leave it. I mean it. PUT THE SCRIPT DOWN.
I WILL SMACK YOUR DAMN HANDS IF YOU GO BACK AND EDIT!
Because you *aren’t* helping yourself if you are doing this while trying to Nano. You are worrying about words you will probably go back and change again later anyhow.
If you are one of those people who do that, and its where your comfort zone is, and you can’t stop it, I get it. But try making sure you can’t see what you wrote, scroll right up, do it consistently. Don’t put the past words in front of your face to tempt you to edit.
Resist the temptation – forge on. This is how you finish books.
- Writers block.
Oh yes, my FAVOURITE demon.
But do you know what writers block is? For me, its like anxiety. Or depression. It was one a foe I did not have the tools to fight. Today, I’m going to loan you mine.
See this beauty? You might not know but I am an avid RPG player (roll playing gamer – no, not the custom and dancing about in fields with a sword kind, the kind that sits inside and curses normals and fights a pretend zombie apocalypse).
And the games I generally play are not… *gasp* D&D… Dungeons and Dragons.
I play and run Cthulhu, All Flesh, Chill, Pathfinder-… yes okay so its like DnD but it isn’t DnD. Don’t @ me.
You get to do a lot of things with a pair of dice for varying reasons in role playing, and I’ve written more about it here, but for the purposes of this blog post lets keep this short;
You have a choice.
Your heros arrive at the gates to a castle where a friend is being held captive in the bowels, accused of a crime they didn’t do… but…how do you get it?
You have options. Put yourself in the characters shoes and think; a castle has a front gate, and a servants entrance… two choices.
I like to roll a D100 to give more extreme ideas of how much they go in one direction and succeed or fail but any dice with even or odd chances is fine.
Any wall you face you are at a point, don’t focus on what to do next, focus on the options available, put yourself in the place, and roll a dice for the outcome.
You don’t know where the story might take you, and I generally find myself somewhere far more interesting… like Alice down a rabbit hole…
At the end of the day the person who is stopping you accomplishing this is you.
I’ve seen shift workers write on phones while in the car on a lunch break.
I’ve seen Mums on a tablet during soccer practice furious getting out a few hundred words.
I’ve sat next to the room of a dying man, writing away all the pain inside because I couldn’t not stop what was happening in that other room.
Ultimately, you are not fighting or writing or winning against me or anyone else.
You are finding out whether you have it in you.
And maybe you don’t this year, but maybe you will make the habits you need to improve your craft enough to keep going, and do it next year.
The whole point is to keep going. Keep writing. No matter what.
Find me here if you want to buddy too!