Tag Archives: Writer’s Block

Confessions of a Closet Groover

Today, dear reader, I’m going to tell you the secret of my (moderate) success. robot-dance-contest I’m not one to blow my own brass section, but I think I’m pretty OK at writing things. I got firsts in my dissertations and I have an ebook that sells relatively well (it’s half off at the moment – if you’re interested!). To get those results takes many hours of dedicated keyboard tapping. It can be really difficult to sit at a computer, focus and just keep typing interesting matter. The brain simply can’t deal with that level of constant concentration; that’s why I needed something else to do, for just a couple of minutes each hour: something completely different to free my thoughts, rest my eyes and avoid some sort of nasty repetitive strain issue. This is my secret weapon: The Three Minute Dance Break

"Guys? I thought you said you were all going to join in... well this is embarrassing.'

“Guys? I thought you said you were all going to join in… well this is embarrassing.’

Seriously, it works. For just three minutes every hour, stand up, do something that vaguely resembles a stretch you once saw someone do in a Fame parody, press play on your audio equipment and have a proper dance about. It relaxes your muscles, gives you a good stretch, stops you getting square eyes and allows your brain a rest ready for a new burst of creativity. This is probably best applied in the relative privacy of your own home; though come to think of it, in any library the people around will just assume that you’re the starting point of a Harlem Shake and feel obliged to disrobe atop the furniture to join in.

I know not everyone likes to freestyle so here’s my literary dancing suggestion: Dance like a mystery writer –  put in a twist at the end! 

It can be glorious for giving your brain the space to come up with new ideas – a great cure for writer’s block! For more well thought out tips on writer’s block, click here.

What do you think of The Three Minute Dance Break? Give it a try! I hear all the writers are doing it! 

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Writer’s Block

A guest post by the fantastic author, C.H. Aalberry

My best ideas never seem to make it down onto paper. I walk home with my head full of pictures and witty dialogues, but as soon as I sit down to capture them, they evaporate. Getting ideas onto paper is hard, and that blank sheet can be intimidating. There may be rare times when words pour out faster than you can get them down, but what about the times when you sit in front of your computer and can’t think of what to do next? 

Don’t misunderestimate your own potential: if George can make it to the Whitehouse, you can write a novel.

Don’t misunderestimate your own potential: if George can make it to the White House, you can write a novel.

Writer’s block. It affects all writers eventually, particularly during first drafts. Writing is an act of creation that is easily derailed. So, what can be done to solve this dilemma? Here are eight tips I use when I get stuck:

1)      Start somewhere, start anywhere. Write what comes easiest. It doesn’t have to be the next chapter or even the next paragraph in the story, because as long as you are writing you are making progress. If you have any ideas floating around that you know you want to include, nail them down and put them in order later. I write a few key chapters first, which gives me some idea of where the story is going. Maybe start with a description of a character or a place: it may not be included in the final product, but it could start you off.

 2)      Don’t panic if it’s not perfect. You write a few lines. They are rubbish. You want to give up. Don’t. The point of a first draft is that you are creating the raw material for your second draft, so don’t worry if it seems rough.

I bet that even the Bard had poor writing days, and he turned out OK.

I bet that even the Bard had poor writing days, and he turned out OK.

3)      Change the scene. Try writing at your local library or cafe. A change of location can nudge you into action. Load everything onto an online drop box and you can carry on from wherever you are in the world (except for North Korea).

4)      Talk it out. I find talking about my work out loud helps me work out a direction and a few key phrases to get me started. No one to talk to? No worries! Talk aloud to yourself- all the creative types does it (note: best avoid mixing this step with step 3).

 5)      Put some pressure on. Tell your pal or your partner or your parrot that you will have five hundred words written by the end of the day… it’s an incentive to get started because if you don’t that parrot will judge you forever. 

Parrots: beautiful, but surprisingly judgemental.

Parrots: beautiful, but surprisingly judgemental

 6)      Take some pressure off. Go for a walk. It may not help your writing, but at least you’ll be getting some exercise. Also, inspiration is more likely to strike when you are relaxed, so get out there and smell the roses.

7)      Still struggling? Get inspired. If you are spending hours in front of your computer but not producing anything then it’s time for a break! Think of it as sharpening the axe. Go to an art gallery. Look at pictures of wildlife on the internet. Learn a little something about the world. Read a short story or two (shameless plug: ‘The Origami Dragon And Other Tales’ is full of short stories guaranteed* to inspire you). Sometimes all it takes is a change of mood.

8)      Persist! Persistence is a key ingredient to writing, so keep calm and keep writing. After all, slow progress is still progress.

I hope that helps. If you have any ideas about beating writer’s block, post them in the comments, I would love to see them. Finally, remember that writer’s block is normal, but don’t let it stop you from doing what you love!

*I lie; there are no guarantees when it comes to inspiration. But the book does contain a story about tiny elephants.

C. H. Aalberry is the author of the fantasy novel ‘Wish’ and ‘The Origami Dragon And Other Tales’, a collection of short stories. 

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