One of the questions I’m always asked about the writing process is , “What do you do about writer’s block?”
I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a true block in the sense of not being able to write for years on end as has happened to some writers. Sometimes though, I do get stuck. Like today. I was trying to figure out what the heck to write about on my weekly blog and couldn’t think of a thing because all week I’ve been too busy to get to my writing- for one thing my “pages” arrived for Ghosthunters and those need to get done before I can return to Freak 3. What are Pages? It’s the way a book looks just before going to galleys which is the way the book will look when it’s actually in print. In other words, instead of just printed out on manuscript pages, it’s got page numbers, the font that the designer has chosen , the design the designer has chosen and even the title pages etc. And by the way, Ghosthunters looks fantastic! Marijke Friesen has come up with an amazing look for the series and the first book titled, The Proof that Ghosts Exist. So anyway, I’ve been busy with the pages and, because we live in Winnipeg and it’s now pretty cold, my husband and I decided to rejoin the at the Rady this week so we could swim instead of walking every day outside with the dog. And while I was swimming I realized that I should write about exercise and the brain. You see, that’s what I do when I get stuck. I take a walk or go for a swim and somehow that seems to unstick my brain and ideas start to flow. I think they’ve done studies to prove that moving your arms, like you do when you walk, actually helps the brain to think and I can believe it. So that’s what I recommend- exercise. But the kind that lets you think- if you’re worried about writing, I mean. I don’t suppose playing tennis would give you the time to think of new ideas because you’d be too busy concentrating on your next move, whereas cycling, walking, swimming, are all things that let your mind wander and that’s a good thing. On the other hand any exercise is good for a writer I suppose, since we spend so much time sitting, hunched over our computers, turning pale and wan, and rarely seeing the light of day...
The other thing that helps when you are stuck is the opposite- make yourself sit in your chair and don’t get up until you’ve written something, anything. Don’t try to be perfect, just try to get something down. By doing that, even if the words don’t flow at first, there’s a chance that they’ll start to flow. Whereas if you aren’t writing there’s no chance at all.
So these are 2 different extremes but I use them both.