To escape writer's block, douse the raging fears and critical inner voice, and find a route to fresh thinking. For me, that route has been to write to my friend, Pam, and explain what's blocking my writing.
How my BFF helps me escape writer's block
Here I am again, writing to you because of writer’s block.
Have I ever told you what magic it is, tapping your powers to unblock my thoughts and words?
When I have overwhelming doubts about my writing, the blank page stares at me. The curser blinks, taunting me, and I can’t move forward.
What works for me every time is to start writing to you, just as if we were on the phone, only on paper. I know I can joke with you, confess my fears and stumble along, and something happens. It’s like the doubts and fears vanish. My pen and paper melt away and I am in tune with my novel.
It’s been a long, successful escape for me, spanning decades.
It started in high school during study hall. I’d be procrastinating, avoiding work on an essay or report, unable to decide on a theme or position despite the looming deadline. In lieu of disaster, I stumbled upon this method of turning to you, and you have never failed me.
Let me count the ways you have helped me.
Dear Pam, I have discovered fiction, and am so excited I’m paralyzed. I’m writing my first novel. It’s a time travel. I know the setting is England, but I can’t decide on which time period I’d like to visit. What makes me think I can write a novel? Okay, let me show you some time periods I've considered, and why...
#2. Making decisions.
Dear Pam, On the advice of a literary agent who loves my writing but doesn’t represent my genre, I’m leaving the time travel genre to write a straight historical romance. I’m agonizing over dialogue. If I try to be accurate to the fifteenth century, only a few people will understand it. If I write with contractions will I be a laughingstock?
#3. Finding focus.
Dear Pam, I’m writing a contemporary women’s fiction novel loosely based on my mother’s trauma with Alzheimer’s. I’m scared, so scared I can’t plot the darned thing. What I’m sure of is …
#4. Trusting my vision.
Dear Pam, my first book released! I’m writing about Gypsies, and rather than arm-candy, they are my protagonists. I want to make it a character-related series, but this second novel just sits there, frozen after the first chapter. I worry that the hero is too bigoted to be likable. Do you think it would be helpful if I...
#5. Moving forward.
Dear Pam, I’m in the saggy middle and sinking fast. I’ve written myself into a corner, and I’m trying to find the way out. I can trash all I’ve written and start over. There has to be another option, though. Let me see. What if I…
You get the idea. I tell her my problem. Like a Dear Abby column, I lay it all out, crying on her shoulder, and in the process I discover my own answer. I have never sent any of these letters, but they always give me new ideas. It’s a simple strategy that works.
I’ve heard of other ways to break writer’s block that may also work for you. One friend of mine relies on showers to get the thoughts flowing. Works almost every time, she says.
Another has a special tea she brews and places on her desk with three lit candles.
Another walks in the park. Yet another meditates.
Many of my friends believe in the power of BIC (butt in chair), not budging until the words flow and if desperation sets in, writing stream of consciousness or drivel until ideas are nudged into motion.
Thank you for always being there, Pam.
And how about you? How do you escape writer’s block?