Posted in writing

Coping With Writer’s Block

It happens to almost every creative out there. Block. Writer’s Block is arguably the most famous and well known. It’s often presented as a lack of ideas but writer’s block can also take another form: lack of energy. You might have plenty of ideas, but no motivation to get them down.

Regardless of how it presents itself, the result is largely the same: your writing has ground to a practical stop. There are a variety of reasons behind a block. You might be stressed, exhausted, dealing with real life issues or perhaps you’re coming down with a heavy case of seasonal allergies. Perhaps you don’t know why. The why may not matter, but coping with it does.

Recharge. A lot of blockage might come from needing to recharge. This goes both for your healthy, and your well of ideas. Put the writing up for a week. Binge watch those awful shows you can’t resist. Take some time out of your day to do something for you. Treat yourself to a hot bath or shower, or that glass of wine you’ve been putting off because you don’t have a good reason. Relax and accept that it is what it is and that you’ll come back to it later. 

Check in with yourself. Almost all creative types—artists, actors, writers—have higher numbers of mental illness like anxiety and depression. The reasons behind that are a little murky, but the numbers speak for themselves. If you’re blocked, it might just be because your mental health is dropping. Check in with yourself and be honest. Anxiety and depression can do a lot worse damage than just dry up your creativity. You can take that from someone who has experience with anxiety. Check your health, both mental and physical.

Motivate yourself. Sometimes the biggest problem for a writer suffering from block is fear. Maybe we think we’re not good enough. Maybe we think we’ll be rejected. Whatever the case may be, we’re still fighting writer’s block. It might be an idea to set up a couple of prompts and spend ten minutes free writing to help you get moving again. Find a way to motivate yourself—be that through a sprint or through gentle encouragement. Some of us work well under pressure, but sometimes that pressure can make us crumple.

Change something. This might be your space or your routine. If you’re more of a plotter, throw your outline out the window. Find a random prompt and splash it down as the next sentence of your story. Build from it. If you’re a pantser, try sitting down and doing some light plotting to see what gets moving. If that doesn’t work, try moving your space around.

Find a cheerleader. If you’re finding it hard to get any writing done, don’t feel bad—you might just need a little more support! If you have a writer’s group you can turn to, ask if someone doesn’t mind being a cheerleader for you. This can range from an in-depth discussion of their favorite character, to reader comments on your current draft. If you don’t have a writing group, now might be a good time to get one. Writing in itself is often a lonely venture, and loneliness can make even our favorite tasks unenjoyable.

Posted in General

Rejecting Obstacles

Back in February, I mentioned that my father had had a stroke. Thankfully, despite the area of his brain that had been affected by said stroke, he’s been discharged from acute therapy and is now home with my sister and I. Unfortunately, while he’s been discharged he is still a long way from independence again (which I’ll note here frustrates him, even when he doesn’t have the words for it). For the most part this means someone still needs to be here twenty-four hours for him, though we’re expecting that to change. Because I have the most amount of time to provide that care, that’s required a change in my routine.

At this point, it would be too easy to say I simply don’t have time to write, to create blog posts, to keep working on the career I want. It’s too easy. The reason is there and laid out perfectly: a large chunk of my time is no longer my own. It’s a reason that keeps thousands of people from doing that thing they want to do. Time is finite, and there is no better excuse than to say you don’t have the time to learn that skill, to participate in that event, to write that novel.

Note I say excuse. I say that because in between all the things I have to do during the day, there is always that element of time. Not everything happens at once, and while yes, it’s easy to excuse myself from doing this, that and the other with the blanket excuse of ‘I don’t have time’ the fact of the matter is that there’s always time. Maybe that’s ten minutes while I wait for the dryer to finish, or in the half hour where Dad is napping before his next dose of medications, but there’s always time. In fact, since having him home for the last two days, this post is being written in the half hour before I myself head to bed.

There is always time. Finding it throughout the day is often an obstacle course. The biggest obstacle I have to face however, is getting to the start of it and accepting that yes, there are obstacles ahead of me. Every time I face an obstacle I can either accept it, or I can seize the opportunity on the other side of it.

Things may change again in a few weeks, depending on how my father is doing. Or, this may simply become the new normal for my family and routine. Regardless of the outcome, every time I find myself thinking ‘I can’t do that because…’ I need to remember to look for the opportunity, instead of just finding the obstacle. Perhaps I can’t map out that character arc because it’s time to make lunch. But, I can most certainly do a quick search in the name of research while waiting for the microwave or while a can of soup heats through.

Every obstacle hides an opportunity. Finding them and is the key point.

Posted in writing

Plot: Obstacles to Romance

An obstacle to romance can appear in many forms and makes this a versatile plot scenario. If you’d like, you can check out other plot scenarios here.

  • A lover must overcome an obstacle with their beloved.

When discussing the roles of this plot, it’s pretty simple. You have at least two lovers and you have something in the way of their happily ever after. That obstacle could be almost anything–violently feuding families, financial hardship, one of them already being engaged, the list is virtually endless. There’s really not a lot to change around in the roles here. You can have a villain as the obstacle, or a situation which creates a problem for them when they try to get together. The roles here don’t flex too much.

What does flex however, is how well this plot scenario slides and flexes because of the endless possibilities of that obstacle. This is your core romance plot. Have a love triangle? One of your participants is probably that obstacle. Have feuding families and a forbidden teen love? There’s your obstacle and your lovers.

As a minor plot, your obstacle may be smaller and easier to overcome. As a major plot, your obstacle might require entire schemes or even armies to resolve.

 

Posted in writing

Plot: Imprudence

We’ve all made some pretty imprudent choices in our lives but for writing (and getting characters into trouble), imprudence can be an incredibly versatile and useful tool. If you’d like to check out all of the plot scenarios, they can be found here.

  • The judge makes an imprudent choice, thereby harming another.

Imprudence is fairly straight forward, which makes it ideal for plot-driven stories. By definition, imprudence is lacking in caution or wisdom. This fits nicely with lack of communication scenarios where a character may make a choice without having all of the information they need. Alternately, consider arrogance as a motivator. Even though your character may know better, they may believe they are above the potential consequences of that choice.

In considering roles, remember that there are often others involved in that choice, especially those who are harmed by its outcome. Often, the impact of that particular imprudent choice makes it easy to blend this with more character driven scenarios. Also remember that the impacts of that choice often affect the judge as well.

A small note on roles as well: in some instances of imprudence, rather than harming someone else, the judge can lose an object or goal as a result of the choice they made.

As a main plot, imprudence doesn’t necessarily need a huge amount of character motivation. The key part of it is that someone does need to make that choice and that there will be fall out from that poor choice. As a minor plot, this can be used to help push characters out of their starting roles and into new ones.

Posted in Stories, writing

Plot: Crimes of Passion

Legally, a crime of passion is a crime committed during intense moments of emotion but in writing crimes of passion are those acts committed on or against a character’s loved ones by the character themselves. You can check out all of the plot scenarios here.

  • The perpetrator commits a harmful act against a loved one.

The simplicity of this plot leaves it wide open to variation. This act might be done unknowingly, or it might be done in the name of a greater good or cause. Of course, true crimes of passion such as those found in the mystery genre are covered under this. Another way to twist this scenario is based on who’s telling the story. The perpetrator knows why they did what they did, but getting to the act itself may take time and leave you with space to build tension and drama. From the point of the loved one, the damage and trauma will need to be dealt with as they unravel the why behind it.

As a main plot, the act itself is frequently a major plot element and will need time spend to explain the how and why of it. Depending on where this actually occurs, this could work best as either a climax, or as one of the opening events.

As a minor plot, it can help sort out character dynamics and blends well with both plots for revenge and redemption. In that case, the how may become less important than the why.