Guest post by Michelle Griep
[Based on her talk at our March meeting]
I started my writing journey like every poor writerly slob out there . . . penning freebies for e-zines or church newsletters, but eventually my skills advanced, and so did my knowledge of the writing craft. I’ve learned a trick or two as I circle the writerly block, and I’d love to share a few nuggets of encouragement and wisdom with you.
Writer Hacks For Writer’s Block
It happens to every writer. Their muse packs up and takes a vacation, leaving zero creativity behind. How will you cope when that happens? Here are a few ideas . . .
Or a fun way to get things moving again is to toss in a new character. You don’t need to keep them in the final draft, but you might find that the new character brings a whole new dynamic to the story that adds depth.
But maybe your cast is so large that you’d like to try my personal favorite: kill off a character. That always spices things up and gets things moving, because, well, there’s a corpse. If that’s not your thing, though, another idea is to think of an event that would make your protagonist weep, then write that. Doesn’t even have to be in your story. It will just get you in touch with your hero again.
And don’t forget you can always simply skip to a different scene and go back later to fix up where you were stuck. Or better yet, skip right to the end. Jump into the heart of the action and get your writerly heart pumping.
Now then, what do all these hacks have in common? They put your mind on something other than the rut you were stuck in so that when you get back at it, you’ll have a new perspective.
But I hear you. You just want to put out your best work and—quite frankly—you want it to be perfect. Why do we do this? Re-thinking every scene, paragraph, word? Stop it. Kill your inner editor! It’s not a felony. It’s not even a misdemeanor. You can go back later and fix what you’ve written, but you cannot edit what you don’t have.
And guess what? Every word you write isn’t what matters. That you write is what truly counts. Just write. It’s that ridiculously simple.
One of my all-time favorite ways to kill perfectionism and end writer’s block is a piece of advice from Michael Crichton. He says:
“Sneaking up on writing sometimes helps. I’ve found I can be very productive for an hour before dinner, because there obviously isn’t enough time to really do anything, so I can tell myself I’m just screwing around.”
A Writing Manifesto
There’s a certain amount of power in being an author—and with that comes a responsibility . . . which is not a real popular world nowadays. But one of your responsibilities is to take your reader on a journey. Grab their hand and immerse them into a world that’s different than their own – but not so different that they can’t relate to it. It’s when your reader leaves reality behind and lives in your storyworld that you can expose them to Biblical truth.
And speaking of Biblical truth, no one likes to have a finger pointed at them, especially a reader. It’s your job, Christian writer, to weave Biblical truths into your characters and plot via showing, not telling. And for heaven’s sake don’t dump in gobs of Scripture. That’s what the Bible is for.
But even if you’ve got the sweet skills of Solomon or David, writing killer prose just by the lifting of your little pinky, do NOT give in to the urge to overdo it. In this day and age, no one has time to read lengthy discourses of meadow flowers, or anything else. Get to the point. Quickly.
As an author, it’s your job to make the reader see the world in a different way, especially the mundane things. Example: kind of gross, but it’s one of my favorites…don’t tell me the villain had rotten teeth. Show me his grin looked as if his teeth had been taken out and dipped in mouse-colored velvet. Eewy, I know, but what a fantastic example of taking your reader to new heights by kicking your writing up a notch. Hard work? Yep. Worth it? Yep. Will you leave a mark on the reader? You better believe it. I read that description over ten years ago and it’s still stuck in my head.
Last but not least, above all, be authentic. Don’t write how you think readers want you to write. Or what you think the market wants. Just write how you think. That’s your voice. That’s what readers want because that’s unique. Be you, all warty and whiskery and lumpy. I mean really, we can’t all be Julie Klassen, right?
Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.
Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.