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A discussion to stoke your writing fire.
Posted: 5/21/2010 3:16 PM PDT
What's the worst thing that could happen if you never wrote anything ever again?
Well... I'm not sure this is much of an answer... but about four or five years ago, I decided I wasn't going to be a writer after all. It was a terribly depressing moment. On the other hand, it also left me free to explore some other things in my life that I needed to explore. I told myself that I wouldn't be able to write anymore. I was no good at it, really. And I couldn't take the disappointment and fear that plagued me every time I tried to write a story. So I quit trying. I stopped writing. I made my "writer's block" a conscious choice. In doing that, I regained some of the control I'd lost in my life. I went on and did other things. I went back to school (for something completely unrelated to writing) and I enjoyed the company of my friends and I strengthened relationships with my family. I met a wonderful man and got married. Occasionally, I write about these thoughts and events in my journal. My life is full. But I want more... I want children and a house and a stable career. I also want to write again.
When the thought initially occurred to me that my husband really didn't know how much I had wanted to be a writer... how much I had loved writing... or even that I had written scores of unfinished stories, I realized that he didn't know about a pretty significant part of my life. It made me feel a little lonely. How could my husband love me when he didn't even know about this fairly significant facet of my life? It was a strange thought. But I didn't let it bother me too much. After all, I had told myself years before I met him that I wasn't going to write "for awhile." And when we met and fell in love and got married, writing had been boxed up in the garage for quite some time. I just didn't write anymore. After settling into things, though, writing has re-entered my thoughts... a sneaky whisper of something I remembered from my childhood. And I started to miss writing. But I didn't think I'd be able to do it, even still. That was a depressing thought... but one that I resigned myself to.
Then something happened. I was thinking and surfing the net (stumbleupon.com, actually) and after a few clicks... two worlds I had kept separate for so many years collided and fused together in a wonderful way. Writing occupied the first world... and chemistry the second... and now they were dancing and flirting within the same world. It was a rather exhilerating moment for me... not least because I knew I would write again... but I'd be better this time around. It wouldn't hurt nearly like it had when I thought I was giving it up for good.
Does this mean that I jumped up and grabbed pens and notebooks and started right in? No Way! Writing and I are still a little shy around each other... we're getting to know one another again. We've hurt each other in the past and we don't want to make the same mistakes. So we roll our ideas around a lot... let them play in imagination for a time before making anything too concrete happen. I think we're scared to define our relationship at the moment... is this for real... or just a passing fancy... and what happens after we decide where we stand...
Anyway, I guess my point is that three years is not a terrible amount of time to have experienced "writer's block." Perhaps you simply decided to experience new things... better things... things that pulled you out of depression... and now writing is a different animal. It doesn't mean you can't do it... it just means there's something there to figure out. I used to be able to write myself into bad moods... or angry moods... or indifferent moods... or hopeless moods... or relatively delightful moods sometimes (I'm no stranger to depression). You still have all the tools you need to write. You didn't trade those tools in for happiness. That's not how it works. All the tools are still there. You're just happier now. And it's unfamiliar territory to be happy and be writing. Three years has to have yielded a lot of experience (and material) to draw from... so find the tools and let your happy self get to know the tools. Let it be awkward and strange. Let the writing be despicable. Try to write the most horrible thing you've ever written... on purpose! Because that may free you a little bit.
I'm done for now... I hope things go well for you... I truly do. And I don't believe that you can only write when you're depressed... depressed is just a familiar environment for writing, that's all.
Posted: 4/30/2010 7:58 AM PDT
Yes, it happens to other people. But if you really want to write and just can't start a plot, start with sketching out a character, the person's whole life. Where he went to school, what kind of home-life he had, did he go to college, what kind of a job does he have, etc., etc. Describe the house he lived in as a kid and lives in now. That way you get to know the person inside out. Do the same with some other characters and see if they speak to you. Try the what if.... What if thepost man who you speak to every day was really a serial killer. What if that nice couple next door were hiding a terrible secret. What if your main character discovered she had cancer and then her husband who was a famous politician had an affair and a love child...oh wait - that's been done.
Posted: 2/27/2010 7:38 PM PST
1: Concentrate on that thought, that if you are unable to write then you are going to lose a big part of your life. That should make you depressed.
2: Write. If you get happy, return to step 1. :-)
Alternatively, try to discover what it was about a depressed mood that made you able to write. If it was sadness, then listen to sad songs, read sad stories, and watch the news. If it was desperation, then look at your bank account.
If none of that works, then write anyway. Don't let your lack of depression be an excuse for not writing. Just write. Ultimately, the only cure for writer's block is to write something. If you find that you can't straight-away resume the projects which you left off three years ago, then start with baby-steps. Enter a competition, one where the submissions have to be short. Or adopt one of the first lines in the "adopt a first line" topic on the Brainstorming and Plot Doctoring board. Just type the first line, then keep on typing and see what develops. Don't worry if you get stuck, the aim isn't to transform that line into a novel; the aim is just to write. Pick another first line, and start again. And again, if necessary, until you realise that you have written quite a lot, and that it's getting easier and easier to write more. You can also use elements form the "911 writer's block" page in a similar manner - just rtry to write a short story which incorporates the suggested character, or setting, or ending, or whatever.
I hope that helps.
Posted: 2/27/2010 3:16 PM PST
I do not know if this happens to other people but I am assuming there might be a possiblilty. 3 years ago I fell in love, moved, became "happy", and married. Since I moved I wasn't so depressed and I now can not write. It seems that the only way I can write is to be depressed. What should I do? I know that if I am unable to write then I feel that I am going to loose a big part of my life. Any advice or a writers block idea?