Writer's block BE GONE!

by Ksenia Anske

Every day, yes, EVERY DAY, at exactly 10am (because that's when I start writing), I experience the wonderful sensation in my loins called... WRITER'S BLOCK! It doesn't matter how many times I yell "Shoo!", or "Go away!", or try to ignore it. It's there like an annoying bug, eyes dangling on little antennae, ready to mock me into a wall-hitting obscenity-spitting hair-tearing creature (in case you were wondering, I'm not always cute and fluffy).

I started writing my novel on May 15th of this year. Blissfully unaware of my skill, I pounded out the 1st Draft in 6 weeks. But, the more I wrote and read, the more I realized how much my writing needs to improve, and the more I sat each morning in front of computer screen, stupefied, unable to start, because I thought, look at J.K. Rowling or Stephen King or Neil Gaiman. I'll never be this good, so why bother? And every morning I would avoid starting longer and longer, until one day the procrastination stretched out for 3 hours, and I went to war.

Did you hear me, writer's block? BE GONE! The things I do to fight it: 

Switch to reader mode. Lately I'm able to get myself out of paralysis by re-reading what I wrote the day prior (usually, half a Chapter). Here is the catch. I do not edit it, but read it out loud. I'll repeat again, to drive the point home. I READ IT OUT LOUD. What it does, it puts me back into the story. Instead of a writer, I become a reader. I want to know what happens next. And, usually, when I come to the stopping point from a previous day (it says STOP READING HERE - which my boyfriend told me he hates because he wants to know what happens next), I dive right in. The words start flying.

Get lost in facts. There is always a word or a term or a fact that I have to look up prior to starting. I go off to the wonderful place called Wikipedia and read an article or two about that word or term. While I read, I try spinning allegories in my mind, thinking how I would apply specific words to convey a specific meaning. In my case, I write about sirens, and they sing a lot. Many moments in my novel call for musical allegories, terms like 'belissimo', or 'a niente', or 'fugue'. I get lost in an article, when suddenly I find a word of a phrase that matches what I'm trying to say. And, presto! I find myself back at writing. Note: let's not roll eyes here and discuss the dangers of forever-research, I know, I know, it's a different blog post all together.

Steal from a genius book. If the top 2 approaches fail, I block out an hour and dive into something so divine, it makes me forget the pain and the suffering of the writer's block. I read and read and read until I come across an absolutely divine sentence, or incredibly amazing dialogue, or a heavenly description. Usually, my mind starts forming associations, and before long thoughts knock inside my head with the cry: "Hey, I know, I get it, I can write it like this author does, totally! It makes total sense!" Suddenly, I'm inspired, because the genius has shown me the path, and I humbly follow. Wow, this sounded a bit too poetic, getting carried away here...

Gasp at amazing art. This comes as an emergency rescue, when nothing else works and I'm at a loss. I do is go to Flickr or some other site with beautiful photography or art (lately, I've been guilty of spending shameful amounts of time on Pinterest). I'd type in a word to search for, which it typically 'water' or 'siren' or 'mermaid' or 'underwater', and gaze at pictures until I get saturated and can't take any more. At least one or two of them always manage to make me inhale sharply and produce an inarticulate cry of delight: "Awwwwowaahhh!" At that moment, I want to produce art as awesome as what I've just seen, and I get back to writing.

Dangle upside down. I'd have to thank my genes for this one, somehow I ended up very flexible. So I'd fling myself on the bed, with head hanging down (or do a head stand or hang upside down on my balance ball). And stay like this, thinking. They say, blood rushes to your brain and oxygenates your intelligence with spikes of genius. I would certainly like to think so, because usually after 5 to 10 minutes, I have a sentence in my head and rush over to computer to type it in. Now, sometimes I also go for walks, though it's rainy in Seattle right now and I've stopped coming out as often. Plus, the thought comes to me so fast nowadays, by the time I made it out of the house, I have to run back inside and type.

Take a day off and wander! OK, if everything else fails, I've found that taking a day off and not having any agenda helps a lot. Call it unstructured escapade or unplanned intermission, whatever strikes your fancy. Although, I usually don't go for a luxury of skipping a day of writing when I'm in the middle of a draft. 

Hmm, I think those are all of my weapons against writer's block. How about you? How do you fight it? Let's shout at it together, maybe we'll force it to retire already.

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