Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Writer's Block Pt. 2

Woo! Pt. Two. If you're just tuning in, be sure to check out Part One so you get this lame joke: stick with me here, because this is a long one, but it's good stuff, if I do say so, myself (<~Virtue #3: flattery)

I managed to beat my own writer's block back into submission, which I did through the technique of writing through it. Wait. Isn't that what I said not to do a few steps back? There is a time and place for everything, and writing through it happens to be the virtue to counteract...

#4 Distraction
Which is exactly what happened to me.

Promoting ourselves as writers is important if we're seeking publication. Publishers don't want to just sell books, they want to sell authors. Building up those connections, and branding ourselves is important, but not as important as our writing!

What we need here is balance between the two. Hard as heck, I know, especially if we get as addicted to social media as I have in these last few weeks (thanks everyone for checking me out!) But when we start obsessing over the outside world, the inside one might make us cringe. Suddenly, we've lost our drive to write, and it comes off as a block, one we have to muscle through to break.

It isn't just networking that can veer us off track. I told you to take some time, read, watch movies, play video games, but if we get too sucked into them (like I just had with Attack on Titan) writing our own stories might become less and less appealing. While we have to always immerse ourselves in stories, we cannot forget our own. That's the whole reason we're doing this, right?

But sometimes there are other distractions out there—ones we can't avoid and ones that make writing unattainable. But what about when it seems like nothing's wrong and we still cannot bring ourselves to write? Well, that's because there is something distracting us that we may not even realize. That is our...

#5 Physiology
We need to take into consideration what it is we're putting in our body, and how that affects our internal chemistry. Forget about health, this affects our writing! How we eat, what we eat, when we eat (plus vitamins and exercise, but I'll go into that another time) will be the deciding factor of when and how we write.

Know how sleepy you get after a huge, fatty meal? That's the parasympathetic nervous system kicking into overdrive—our brain telling our body to slow down and focus on digesting all of those high-carb, high-fat, sugary foods you just gorged on. Hard to focus on our writing when we're putting that much mind into our guts. It's best not to write after a big meal, but we should be keeping track of what we eat and how much regardless if we're writing or not. Overeating, or eating poorly does affect our brains. If you have a set writing time of day, try eating small, healthy things throughout the process. There are tons of snacks that will not only fill your tummy (as much as it needs to be filled) but also wake up that brain power of yours in a way no energy drink could compare.

Oh, yes. And while we're on the subject of energy drinks...

Inducing tons of stimulants (such as all that coffee or those energy drinks we think will rev us up to write) can damn well near paralyze us by exhausting both the brain and body. While there are health benefits of caffeine (not energy drinks) it's best to wait an hour or two between your caffeine fix and a writing session. At the very least, we ought to research what we're putting in our body and how that might affect our writing.

I could go on forever about physiology (and will in a future vlog-blog) The body is an amazing thing that we must study, again, to connect with that human aspect of our story telling. If you have any questions about the physical side of writing, I will be all over that in a heartbeat (hah) For the ladies, I'm going to go ahead and embarrass you by leaving this link here. As for everyone else...ugh, fine, I'll move on.

#6 Boredom
Okay, stay with me, we're almost done, and boredom is definitely one of the seven sins. For me, it's one of the scariest. 

It goes back to sin #3 (fear) because boredom is a sign that our story is leaving us. Of course, it's only scary when we snap out of it and realize our momentum's long gone, and our story's sailing off with it. But it doesn't have to be this way! Our story might not be leaving us, it could very well be us leaving our story, and if this is something you don't want, you have the power to turn this around.

Just like the virtue for sin #1, we counteract boredom by going back and scanning our writing. There must be a point in there that took us down the wrong path. Again, our story's telling us that we screwed up somewhere and need to go back and fix it. But unlike sin #1, we can't take a day off. We can't distance ourselves from this, we have to be in the middle of the action to get the story's blood pumping again, or it will die.

Something we have to keep in mind: if the story's boring us, it's boring our readers. We can't lie to ourselves, saying, "This is okay. It's just filler. It'll pick back up in a second." Depending how invested our reader is, they might not take that second. For the sake of caution, assume every reader is hanging on by a thread, and we have to do all we can to keep that thread from breaking.

But sometimes, we do have to abandon ship. Sometimes, a story's unsalvageable, and that boredom is a sign that it's time to move on. Horrifying, right? Only if we're still in love with our story. If that love is there, even by the tiniest spark, the story can be turned around. We may have to put a ton of re-plotting, re-writing into it, but if we love the story, it's worth it. If you work hard to bring it back from the abyss, it'll come to love you even more, and your relationship will be stronger for it (okay, my insanity gauge raised quite a bit there, didn't it?)

#7 Overload
And now I present to you, the big one. The sin that encompasses all other sins. It has the ability to shut us down, whether we're still in love with our story or not. It can kill not only our relationship with our story, but ourselves as writers.

Overload is just that, it's overloading ourselves with too many stressorsWhen I say this sin encompasses all other sins, I mean it. Overloading ourselves might start with stumbling on the path somewhere. That might come from boredom, that might come from fear, then we go into perfectionism and we end up exhausting ourselves. We might try to counteract that by adjusting our diet, or go straight on into stress eating. Or, like myself, forgetting to eat and exercise all together! This only adds more stress on the body and mind. Ultimately, it can shut us down.

But it might have nothing to do with writing. This is the tough one, because it'll seem like you're doing everything right to battle your block, but it still ain't going away. Again, it comes back to too many stressors, if not in our writing life, then in our outside life. If you have tried all other methods, and you're still not breaking yourself free, stop and think about it. What's going on with you and your story? Are you taking on too much? Are you dreading its and your future? What about your outside life? Are bills piling up? Are there issues at home or work? 

We can't always counteract outside problems, but we can take a break and deal with them. Same with our story. Sometimes we need to step back and organize ourselves. With life, think of ways to balance everything out, or at least, find positive ways to counterbalance the negative (for the time being, not writing) For me, it's martial arts. For you, who knows? Gaming? Reading? Whatever puts you at ease and gets you away from the stress of life. But we can't try to avoid it. These are just ways to push it aside at the end of the day, or before we trudge off to work so our brain doesn't shut down from all the crazy. These are methods to help us cope with the crazy so we can get back to our true passion—writing.

If it's our writing causing the problem, stop writing. For now. Set a date on your calendar to start again. Make sure it's not too far off, but don't stress about making it too soon. If you need more than a week to relax and get things sorted, don't freak out about it. As I said a million times before and will a million times more: writing is organic, different writers work different ways. Some might be good to go after a day or two. Some need a lot longer than that, but if we don't take this time off, we'll find ourselves in that block that doesn't budge for much longer than the time we'd have taken off. Months. Years. Maybe indefinitely.

Well, I don't want to end this on such a dark note, so here's what's up: no matter what kind of rut we put ourselves into, there's always a way to get out of it. It'll take time and practice to recognize these blocks and how to deal with them, but take it slow. Really think things through. You can do it. You're an awesome writer (<~flattery. But no joke. You've got this)

That's all, folks! I swear I'll never write this much again. That's a lie. But thank you so much for sticking with it all. I'll be back next week with more writing advice. 'Till then, keep being a badass. See ya'll soon! (Now I've got to go make one heck of a video out of this. Ugh. Can't I just have writer's block?)

Current Stats
Watching: 107 Facts on Frederator's You Tube
Listening: The Faint (shut up, I'm still an angsty teenager at heart—that's why I write YA)
Reading: The Ask and the Ansert: Chaos Walkin Book 2 by Patrick Ness (I'm a slow reader)
Playing: Zelda: Wind Waker
^^^What are ya'll up to? Comment below!^^^

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