07 March 2011

Writers' Block:
The Crouching Tiger

The Crouching Tiger of Writer's Block

Writers' block is something we writers hear about often. It can affect us even if we think it hasn't. It's not always so subtle, however. We usually know when we get stopped cold. It's good to know how to get started writing again.

I have covered quite a few topics in this series on writer's block. You can visit any of them from the following links.

These cover some technical reasons your writing might have come to a stop. This next one is not so technical, and frankly, it's kind of sad.

Stephen King On Writing
We all want to be writers in one form or another. I wrote volumes before I ever took myself seriously as a writer. I was reading a Stephen King compendium and in it he had an excerpt from his "On Writing" series. He told us that many people had approached him saying they wanted to be writers. When he asked them what they had written, many of them said they had written nothing. King made a point of saying that a person who is truly a writer will write regardless of an audience. They will write just to write, because they enjoy it. This revelation made me take my writing more seriously. I began writing my first novel a few days later. My friends smiled and told me they hoped I did well. I smiled back at their encouragement and got busy.

Writers Block from Lack of Support
I was fortunate. I said I wanted to be a writer and everyone I knew cheered me on. Today I am the writer I wanted to be. Not all of us are so lucky. Some of us are surrounded by people who are not so supportive. They might laugh or insult us when the subject is brought up. Are they jealous; critical; bitter? It doesn't really matter? If their criticism and lack of approval strikes home, a writer can set aside the task of writing and not come back.

I consider this very sad. What if these squashed writers had something fantastic to share? What if they had something important to say?

Writers Block and Blocked Communication
During conversations, we sometimes hope to add our opinions but someone else speaks first. We politely let them continue and the thing we wanted to say gets passed by. We don't get to say it. It's a small thing but it doesn't feel very good. It usually turns out OK. We get to add our opinion somewhere else and we go off with a smile despite having never given that one particular opinion. This unspoken communication sits in some dark corner of our mind until we forget about it while life goes on around us.

A story is a communication. When we write, we get to share this communication. It's no mere sentence or two like we would relate during a conversation. A novel or even a short story is a big communication. It's BIG. People can get squashed by unsympathetic or inconsiderate associates who tell them they aren't up to it or they aren't any good. We get stuck with this giant communication left unsaid. That's not good. It can be depressing -beyond the initial insult.

Prevent Writers Block by Ignoring Criticism 
My goal isn't to change the world. I cannot make all the critical people see the errors of their ways. I can tell you, however, that if someone has told you that you are not a good writer or that you don't have what it takes to be a writer, you should not listen. I was awful when I started. I'm still not perfect; ask my writing coach. Each time I take out one of my old writings, I wince as I read it. Heck, sometimes I wince when I look at the stuff I wrote yesterday. However, it is all that writing that got me to where I am now. The only way for you to become a good writer is to practice -and practice a lot.

It actually doesn't make sense to tell a beginning writer they're no good. I'd bet if you asked Stephen King if he was good when he started, he'd say no. Ask anyone who is a professional writer. You might find they are your best advocates. I certainly hope you have not been given discouraging advice from a professional writer, either. They should know better.

If you have a story to tell, write it down. Don't worry about how good a job you do. My friends and I write and re-write our stories over and over again to get them right. It's just the nature of the game. Each time we re-work our stories, our writing gets better. We learn as we go -and learn and learn and learn.

Tell Your Story!
Don't let some sour-puss shut you down. Your story deserves to be told. More importantly, you deserve the chance to tell it.

Writers Block Overview
Overview: You are free to communicate and writing is communication.

May your writings bring you all the happiness it has brought to me and my friends.

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