Thursday, December 15, 2005

Drawing a Blank

I got nothin. Not a blessed thing. And after PM's wonderful post and all the fun yesterday I'm a bit worried I'm going to kill the blog. We had so many new friends post for the first time yesterday (Hi everyone!!) and I don't want them to visit again today only to delete us permanently from their internet browser because my post is boring.

Oh the pressure.

Then I realized I've been doing the exact same thing in my writing. Drawing a blank. Not sure what comes next. Well...that isn't exactly true. I know what comes next. Heck, I've got several of the scenes already written just waiting to be strung together. Maybe that's where the true problem lies. After those scenes are done I've got nothin.

So what am I gonna do?

Probably wait until after the holiday season to panic for starters. I'm just like everyone else - I've got a ton of things going right now and not a lot of extra time or energy. But then what?

Here's the Instigator's list for starting your writing brain:
1.) Take a bath - the peace and quiet (hard to find at my house sometimes), hot water and steamy air all seem to combine to jump start my imagination - and usually my character's voices.
2.) Go someplace different. Go to the mall, a local coffee shop, a park if it's warm enough. Anyplace that might spark a different perspective.
3.) Have an intervention. Talk to your friends, people who understand what you're going through and might be able to help you pinpoint the problem - either with your writing environment or your story.
4.) Free write. It doesn't take very long writing "I've got nothing to write about" 100 times before your imagination will kick in and take over.
5.) Writing exercises. Normally, I hate these sorts of things. It reminds me too much of school (sorry PC!) but if the first few things don't work, by this time I'm usually desperate and willing to try anything.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of things to do to kick the blank page blues. What do you do when the words don't pour out onto the page?

Instigator - who at least managed to remember she had to blog this week ;0)


raine said...

Of course you're not going to kill the blog! (see? some of us even stuck around, lol!).

Sometimes I actually write about not being able to write. Just for myself, or on my blog, or to a writing buddy. Just vent all that frustration, write about what I'm trying to do that won't come out--anything. Sometimes just the act of writing ANYTHING helps the block.

Sabe said...

I feel your pain! Been there, done that, bought the tee shirt -- today, to be exact. In my other life (as in, other than writer) I'm a prevention educator and tomorrow . . . make that this morning, I'm giving a presentation to the parents of pre-schoolers on how family violence affects children. A really important subject about a really terrible situation. And when did I begin to write this presentation? Why, at 1:00 a.m., of course. From 10:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., I was mulling . . . and mulling . . . and mulling over the way I wanted to present the information. When I finally sat down to Bertha (my computer, Bertha d'Novel)my first key strokes were slow and cautious, but within minutes, my mind and fingers began to work together and pretty soon I had, if I do say so myself, a pretty darn good presentation prepared. So hang in Instigator. It'll come when it, and you, are ready.

Maven Linda Winstead Jones said...

When I get stuck, there's usually a problem somewhere in the story. Once I find the problem and know how to fix it, it's clear sailing once again. But that's me. I'm convinced no two people write in the exact same way.

Still, what works for me is often music, meditation, working in the yard, taking a walk, or leaving the house. (Is there any better place to plot than in the passenger seat of a car on the highway????)

I get nothing done during the holidays. I'm actually chomping at the bit to get back to the computer!


Smarty Pants said...

When I draw a blank, its because I'm not ready to write the scene yet. I've sat for hours staring at a page, reading over the last few lines then nothing will come. I'm just not wanting to write that part yet. I can come back weeks later, sit down, and the words just flow out of me.

THIS, of course, is not the best way to write. Some of us, myself included, don't have weeks to sit around and wait for a scene to come to them. Now I highlight the area in red and move onto the next scene that I can write. Another plan is to just make yourself do it anyway. My successful intervention has led to 8 written pages - a windfall compared to what I have been doing.

Problem Child said...

I'm not sure why you're apologizing to me.

The school reference? You don't see me running back for more book learnin' do you? And my students don't like school (or me) either.

Writing exercizes? Lord, I hate the things. Nothing like "BE CREATIVE NOW" to kill any lurking creativitiy. But they work for some...

And Sabe-- I love what you named your computer. How cute!


Smarty Pants said...

You guys don't have names for your computer? DB (Darling Boyfriend) always gets onto me for naming my stuff - plants, cars, equipment. My first laptop was named Roscoe and when I had to trade him in for a new one, I named him R2 (for Roscoe the 2nd) but all the geeks in my life think its a Star Wars reference. Kinda funny.

Maven Linda Howard said...

Get some sleep. I'm not kidding.

That said, when I hit a blank wall, I'm pretty stupefied for a few days before it finally hits me: "I made a mistake somewhere back in the book, and this is the point where I have to fix it or nothing else can go forward." Too bad it always -- ALWAYS -- takes me a few days to realize this. After forty-something books, you'd think that would be my first suspicion. But, no -- I have to lose a few days of valuable writing time before this occurs to me. Then I have to figure out what I did wrong, and it's usually some insignificant detail that, if followed to a logical conclusion, will totally change what's about to happen in the book. Aaaargh!

For some reason, the solution will occur to me when I'm somewhere else and can't write. I'll be driving, or just about to go to bed -- and, no, I don't interrupt my precious little sleeping time to put in the fix -- or sitting up with sick relatives at the hospital. By the time I get everything figured out, I'm raring to go.

Now if I can just train myself to think of the obvious right away.

Instigator said...

Thanks guys for all the wonderful suggestions!! And for making me feel better about killing the blog :-)

Meditation is something I should turn to more often - although I suppose in some cases that's more or less what I'm doing in the bathtub while I'm trying to work through a plot snarl.

And, actually, I did take a wrong turn which is part of the reason I'm having difficulty. I write scenes out of sequence - usually only a few chapters ahead at a time - and then string them together to make my chapters. Well, I had my characters sharing their first kiss way too soon. I fixed that scene (and love the changes so much better) but the trickle down effect it's having on all the other scenes I'd already written is just depressing :-) I'm losing quite a bit (and watching all the time and effort go down the drain). It's a bit painful but as I'm slowly emerging with an end product I like so much better.

Thanks guys for your support and ideas!!!


Playground Monitor said...

My computer thinks its name is Damned. **gg**

I don't do well with writing exercises either -- all that pressure to perform NOW.

I have had some success with going somewhere else with a notebook and pen. My back porch as worked well on occasion. And I think Barnes and Noble's coffee shop would be nice too if they'd turn the music down. After a certain decibel level it ceases to be background music and begins to be noise.

See, Kira. You didn't kill anything.