Welcome to MTP. Here's some things you should know:

- The owner of this blog is by no means old, wise, or any combination of the two. In fact, he/she/it may be placed under either of the underwhelming categories of "fledgling" and "feckless." Feckless. Ah, what a beautiful word.

- I am a writer - I write. My posts will be long. My rambles will be longer.

- Comments are excellent. Silent pageviews, while appreciated, are depressing. Leave a comment! Spill your heart!

- Vocabulary is paramount here. If you got it, use it. And no, that doesn't mean you should introduce yourself as a "cogitator of brobdingnagian proportions." Put away the thesaurus. Go on. Drop it.

- There shall be no "hating." "Hating" does not exist. It's like my middle school principal used to say in a vain attempt to prevent frost-related "accidents" each January: "The snow does not exist. Do not touch the snow. Do not lick the snow. Do not throw the snow. You can't, of course. Because it's not there." In the same way, "hating" is for other places. This is (dare I say it?) a hate-free zone.

- Lastly...welcome to my creative outlet. Door's open wide.

Enjoy yer scrollin',

Enjoy yer scrollin',

Sunday, January 13

Writer's (Cement, Unbreakable, Irritating, Story-Killing) Block

Are you ready, readers, for a foray into unexplored territory?

Here is my fair warning: we're about to venture into perilous lands. It's bleak here. It's dangerous. You might not return with all your screws on tight. Heck, you probably won't return with all of your screws.
 If you want, don't accompany me. Leave. Stop reading. Save yourself!

Really, I would. Keep walking. Hightail it outta here. Go on. Git.
But - but, but, but. Before you leave. Let me tell you where we're going.

We're off to discover the cure for writer's inescapable, omnipresent block.

Are you gasping? Did you faint?

Now, I know what you're thinking. "But, Alex! Such a journey is as pointless as it is terrifying! Please, don't do this! Save yourself!"

And I'm thinking as I flip my hair, vogue-style, "Stop being so dramatic. Honestly. Kids these days." 

Alright, all of my eccentricities aside, we're really going to search for the cure. I, among all of you,I'm sure, have many-a-night stared at a blank Word document in desperation, forlornly picking the green M&M's from a ceramic bowl and downing them four at a time. Writer's block is a real, problematic thing, and today we're going to go about smashing that cinder to pieces.

The first step to overcoming writer's block is realizing the Simple Truth. This is heavy doctrine here. The Simple truth is...

You're not alone.

Really! I swear!

Every writer that has ever lived has, at one point, experienced writer's block. You're not the only one.
Just because you can't for the life of you get Timmy onto that starship headed to the planet Narflex without introducing his Uncle David, who isn't supposed to come in for at least another fourteen chapters, you're not a bad writer. Not even a little bit. In fact, writer's block is a sure sign of a healthy writing life. And while it can be a pain in the royal Narflex, it's bound to happen sometime, right? We're only human. We're not endless pools of brilliance. Well - arguably, we are - but sometimes those pools run a little dry.

Allow me to ask you a question. Do you write better right after you've seen a particularly good movie, or watched an interesting play? Does your pen flow more readily after you've been to the Metropolitan, or subsequent to reading a good book?

For most of us, the answer is yes. That's because the human mind loves new material. It processes it and threads new things through your brain that perhaps you'd never thought of previously, planting brilliant ideas in your head, seeds lying dormant for the proper moment to bloom. Your mind loves the arts.

Writing, remember, is an art; in my opinion, it's the finest form of art there is. What leads you to write? What leads painters to paint? Singers to sing? Composers to compose?


That's what led the greats and the not-so-greats. The famous and the infamous. Inspiration.

The trick to overcoming writer's block is simple, yet effective - get inspired.

That's it. That's the big secret.

Are you skeptical? Are your little mind-voices irritatingly asking, "Well, Alex, how do we get inspired?" They're right, you know. That's a good question. And this post will, hopefully, answer it.

These are a few ways that I employ to get inspired.

1. Listen to music. Not bad music. Good music. I'm not going to draw a definitive line for you - in truth, there's no such thing as "good" and "bad" music - but you should know by now which songs work for you, and which don't. Choose the ones that do. Here are two of my writing favorites:

Lindsey Stirling's entire album. With barely any lyrics at all she modernizes  the  violin in truly impossible ways. Don't believe me? Watch this video of her song "Shadows" and tell me that that woman isn't inspired.

Genius, right!? My inner inspiration's going haywire.

Florence and the Machine is, quite honestly, made for writing. Their lyric-writing is exceptionally done, and I find myself listening in the background while I pour my soul onto paper.

I like to listen to my music while I write, but for some auditory-inclined people, it gets difficult to concentrate. If that's true for you, set aside a few minutes before you hit the parchment and listen. You'd be surprised what magnificent ideas your brain's capable of conjuring. Here's another tip - jot down the song lyrics that strike you while you listen. Here's my sheet:

2. Draw. No, I don't care if you're not an artist. Start in the corner of a page and draw swirls until they cover the whole page. If you're artistically inclined, you might go for more advanced sketches. Don't think - just do. This is a relaxing, concentration activity. Take your time and think about your stuck story while you're doodling.  Here's mine:

Don't ask about the huge smiley face. Or the circus tent. I honestly don't know what comes over me.

3. Photography. Google your subject and let it inspire you. Got a scene that takes place in some shady wooded area? Search it! You might come up with something like this:

How cool is that!? Right?
Here's a fun exercise - after you've found a really cool photograph, take out a sheet of paper and think of a phrase that describes it. After looking at the above photo, the one that popped into my head was "Daylight is  twofold - mother to dusk and child to dawn."


So, there are a few ways to get your mind moving. There is no definite solution - it's different for everybody. But, in my experience, the only way to un-stuck yourself is to slide on by without direct confrontation. Then, when you're good and intellectually ready, take a jackhammer and smash writer's block from behind. It'll never see you coming.


Anonymous said...

This is so great.
I'm glad you mentioned songs, because I get inspired a lot from lyrics. Like a lot. (partially why I asked you to write a blog about favorite songs and how their lyrics inspire you...)
That googling photography idea is genius. I never thought of that. :)
Again, the vividness of your descriptions never cease to amaze me. "We're only human. We're not endless pools of brilliance. Well - arguably, we are - but sometimes those pools run a little dry."
~ i think you know who I am.

Anonymous said...

This post. I cant even take it, how perfect this is, because that is almost exactly what I do. But I guess I don't have one defined artistic area, or at least one as defined as you, my brilliant writer friend. I dance, I (try) to sing, I draw, I paint, I (sometimes) write stories, poetry, even song lyrics, I fight (martial arts... do they count?). And skilled as I am I kind of just am not amazing in any such category, I have no idea what I'm doing, or which I should focus on. So I guess I just do what you told us to do in this post- I listen to music, sing, draw, and read at the same time. And I see what the end result is. Comparing it to real artists' work, I laugh at my feeble attempt.

-Me, who refers to you as "my brilliant writer friend" "with 11 scarves". That too. Especially the black shiny one you wore on New Year's Eve. <3.

Juniper Laurel said...

I like to Google an isolated forest somewhere with light filtering through the branches and using it as my desktop background while writing. Just 'cause most of my writings take place in that kind of place.

Anonymous said...

This post was amazing. Your writing is amazing. AMAZING. You are'nt just talented, your're gifted. Very relatable and humorous post. PLEASE CONTINUE POSTING ASAP <3