Do you suffer from writer’s block? I’ve been thinking of taking a break because writing is coming tougher to me nowadays for various reasons. A friend mentioned maybe it was a writer’s block. Since I’ve never fallen for the whole idea of a wall blocking your creative side, I thought I will write about it. And just then serendipitously I came across my wonderful author friend Andaleeb Wajid’s rather helpful blog on the same subject. Andaleeb is a superstar author who keeps churning out one fantastic book after another, while taking care of a vast family, doing workshops on creative writing and generally being a fantastic person. So if she’s talking about this block-monster-thingy, believe me she knows her stuff. And this is what she suggests you do.
What’s this Writer’s Block?
If there’s one thing every other writer will tell you or post/tweet is that they’re facing a writer’s block at some point or the other in their writing career. Of course, if you are a writer, you know for a fact that writer’s block can strike you unawares and the novel that you were working on is no longer flowing from your finger tips on to the keyboard. This feeling of being stuck, of not being able to move forward is typical of writer’s block. But here’s a secret. Writer’s block doesn’t exist. What? Yes. It doesn’t. Writer’s block has more to do with your mental disposition at the point of time when you’re trying to write, rather than actually being the thing it is made out to be.
Over the past years as I’ve been writing my books there have been times when the words just didn’t seem right. There have been times when I haven’t felt like writing. A typical question that students I speak to, or interviewers ask is how I deal with writer’s block. This is how.
1. It’s in your mind. It doesn’t exist. Believe it.
Want to start on that first book? Aspire to get published? Here are a few tips for aspiring writers that I shared with Writersmelon.
Why do you want to write?
If you want to be a writer, the first thing that you need, which is I think a very individualistic thing, is the desire to write, the passion to create something new, to express a story, a character in a new way. I write because characters crop up in my head and bang inside, demanding to be let out. I write because it’s addictive and I have no other choice. It’s the highest I’ve ever felt, and also the lowest. It’s hard, but I’m not going to leave it anytime soon.
Once you’ve keyed on this desire, it will drive you through the long, long process of gathering the skills and actually writing the whole thing. Ideas are easy to come by, getting the skill of writing is also not too difficult, but it’s this desire that makes all the difference. This motivation that comes from inside you, will discipline you, make sure you don’t give up halfway and will not let you rest till you complete the creative work. In that sense, it’s an intrinsic value.
Finish that first draft
Don’t let your rational mind take over till you complete the first draft. Write with your instinct, write whatever you see the characters doing, just write without thinking too much. The only thing you can do is be true to your characters. Don’t let your opinion on life and your language leak through into the story, for the readers will know and they’ll not like it. After you have completed the first draft, edit, polish and edit again. Once you think it’s ready to be sent to a publisher, wait for a week. Edit again and send to the publisher. Don’t think of it as a hobby. Think of writing as your work. You have to do it everyday, even if you don’t feel like getting up from the bed. Write everyday, even if you are sad or not in the mood or don’t have time for it or can’t think of a single line to write. Write a portion everyday.
Blank. Blank. Blank! How will I ever finish my novel and get it to be published if I just can’t write? I should quit. Should for sure, quit and take up a cushiony job of an editor somewhere and criticize other people’s writings. Maybe the writer in me is dead and the only way to get her is to meet Yamraj and BEG!
But I know I wouldn’t quit. What’s life without a little bit of fun like writing anyways?
All the strings need to tie together. Only then will a complete picture be formed. Holistic. Is it okay if I write bad than not write at all? What stops me from writing? I had decided to keep on typing to try to record what thoughts are coming to tell you how it feels to be stuck without any words in a head which is supposed to be a writer’s.
My mind thinks of many things but my hands aren’t fast enough to write and my vocab not varied enough to express. Write, write write. Language binds my thoughts.
But still I try to write because I have decided to do something and try to stick to it. Is it that bad? Shouldn’t I stick to something? I want to. I seem to float in empty air, meaninglessly drifting with the flow of life. Aren’t I supposed to do something I believe will bring me pleasure? But is this pleasure? Is it even right to run after the fleeting pleasures I get from writing? Or do I want to experiment with highs and lows which come from new experiences? Is writing like extreme adventure sports for me? I don’t know. Again as I told you, my dear long dead document, I have only questions, no answers.
These answers seem to be quite tricky to find. Even if you manage to grab hold of one, it smokes up and manages to silkily slip through your fingers. Also, as soon as you have this creature called an answer, your eyes become blurry and myopic, almost blind and though you can see your answer, it becomes a misty, mystical creature. Soon, it starts turning invisible. That’s how it works with answers. The more you look at them, the more they start to vanish. Then suddenly, the slippery bugger vanishes completely leaving you with more questions. Sigh. Can someone live their life with only questions around them? Why do we need these slippery buggers called answers anyway?
Only 413 words. That’s the tragedy. You think you have said a lot. You think your thoughts are quite fresh, new, unusual, never heard, dah, dah, dah. You think you have millions of words at your service, working like minions standing and saluting you where you want them to. You think you control them and then suddenly, the seat of power changes. They start playing with your mind. Thoughts which were cohesive and coherent in the garbled walls of your mind turn into gibberish when converted into words in an e-document. How does expression work? How do you put your thoughts onto a document in a cohesive order?
The control is slipping away. But isn’t that the magic of writing? Why do I need the control anyway? You wanted abyss, abyss is what you get.
Men are crazy. Women are crazier. No, it’s not relative; it’s just the way it’s meant to be. You are but a puppet in the hands of language.
(Again, not edited.)