180 WAYS TO CONQUER WRITER'S BLOCK: for writers of all ages and genres
May 27, 2011
Sometimes a concept is so startlingly true it takes my breath away.
Here is a quote from A.O. Scott in this morning's NYT: "...the imagination lives by risk, including the risk of incomprehension."
Creating requires taking a scary leap. You can't worry about whether the work is good, bad, indifferent, critic-proof, or even understandable (at first) to others. Just write it as you yourself feel it and see it--the best way to achieve originality.
May 20, 2011
Go back, physically or mentally, to a street you used to live on. I have given writing students, of all ages, the task of mapping out an old neighborhood, replete with a "key" to events that happened to them there. Some examples: #1: "Here is where I camped out for 45 minutes when I ran away from home." #2: "Here is where I threw up after sampling a cigarette for the first and last time." Etc., etc. Your neighborhood stories are like the oranges on a tree, ripe for picking.
May 5, 2011
GET AWAY: Part 2
Get away from your manuscript. Literally and forever. Sometimes writers are struggling with the wrong project. Sometimes they slave unhappily over The Thing that's holding them back, every now and then attempting "other Things" to relieve the pain. Sometimes enough is enough. Not only that, sometimes one of those other Things is what they really ought to be working on. I once kept struggling with a novel about a girl in the 1950's who disguised herself as a boy in order to play on a hockey team. I thought it was a good idea for a story, except for the fact that I couldn't seem to get her on the ice. Perhaps the problem was that I've never played hockey, don't know much about the game, and don't even like it that much. As soon as I realized all that, I discovered that my "block" was the project, not writing itself. My next project was ONE DAY AND ONE AMAZING MORNING ON ORANGE STREET. I wrote that story with much pleasure and relief.