Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Writing Wednesday: Writers Block

Alternate Title: A funny thing happened on the way to my next two novels.

When the creative juices are flowing it’s a wonderful thing. I wrote my novel “The Setting Earth” and had no problem writing a few short stories and posting on my blog while doing it. It took me about 6 weeks to write and I hated it when I had to go to bed, because I had more to write. I woke up in the morning after 6 hours sleep, dieing to write more.

Now it’s finished and I started on the sequel I had planned in the trilogy and found I had a major problem, I could write the great imagery I planned, I had the characters nailed down but something was missing.

I went back through and read my novel and found the problem. I had written a great romance novel. It was set in the background of an interplanetary cold war and took place on the dwarf planet Ceres, but it was about the main characters wanting to be with each other but their cultures made them offend each other as they tried to seduce each other. Classic Romance novel stuff with great imagery as a backdrop.

Having the war break out while they are on their honeymoon seems mean. The second novel in the trilogy would be “Gone with the Wind II” or “Romeo and Juliet II” it just doesn’t work.

So I turned my attention to my other novel, “The Pizza Diaries”. I wrote a few short stories with the same main character Brian a Pizza Delivery Guy who runs into Aliens, Devil Worshipers, Beings from other dimensions, Poltergeists, and a time traveling babe, I figured I could turn it into a horror/comedy novel (I’ve got the ending all set up to tie everything together). I began writing the stories to tie them together and realized my A plot is a fantasy and I’ve never wrote or really read fantasy.

So now I’ve got writers block, I’ve visited some web sites that give the advise to write up some imagery to get the process going. I’ve got no problem in that area, I can describe the Cloud Cities on Venus or the platform at Mercury’s Lagrange point that can power the 22nd century’s space ships in vivid detail, I’m just having a problem staying in genre. My sci-fi turns to romance, my horror turns to comedy, my comedy turns to fantasy, and my porn turns to either horror or epic space opera.

Does anyone have any advise how to kick start the process and get the juices flowing again?


Stephanie B said...

I personally appreciate novels that are more than just strictly "X". I tend to involve romantic elements, but also advernture, science, fantasy, etc.... Just sayin'.

When it comes to writer's block, there's no one solution that works for everyone (at least as far as I know). Sometimes I do something mindless, like jewelry making, embroidery or crocheting to let my mind sift through its issues.

Or I might read or write some of my old favorites to better appreciate those elements that their stories so appealing to me. Sometimes, I get an epiphany on what I'm missing.

More often, I jump into something completely different (which is why I generally have eight novels in work at any one time), start a new projects or even write a short story so that I can let my subconscious wrestle with the problems elsewhere. Unfortunately, there's no telling when you'll get back to the original which can be challenging if you have a contract.

(I let Tarot Queen sit fallow for like eight years).

But, see, my subconscious does all my good writing so I have to distract my conscious brain to be out of the way so it can think things through. For normal people. those tricks would be unlikely to be helpful.

Jen said...

I read when suffering writers block. Reading what others have written, and trying to see how they figured things out, makes me start thinking about my own stuff from a different perspective. Plagiarism works too however.

Project Savior said...

One thing I've done before that I haven't done recently is take a short story that I like and steal the plot and put it in my own words. It sometimes comes out good enough to be considered original, if not thats what the recycle bin is for.

JL said...

I jugggle cats when I can't write. Yes, they scratch but oh my, the creative juices flow :)

I used to read books like "Writing Down the Bones" and other Natalie Goldberg gems until I realized it is all crap. Block is good sometimes, and you will probably wish I had it prior to writing this comment :)


Grant Lawrence said...

I graduated from journalism and I was trained in newspaper and broadcast journalism so I wouldn't know about writing novels. But I will say that I do know a little about psychology being a counselor and all.
So I can only offer you a bit of advice that may likely not be helpful. But the counselor in me loves to try to help.

So I would say the writers block can sometimes come from being overly critical (as any type of block--relying greatly on the part of the brain that monitors and regulates behavior can interfere with the creative process). In order to be creative, as you obviously are, you need to allow yourself a great deal of freedom to try different approaches. Put it on paper and see what comes up. Now it might be that you are feeling trapped by having to write in a certain style for a certain type of reader, or you are feeling that you should write this way and you must do it this way. But maybe you need to mix it up and incorporate different elements and try to bring them together.

But never writing much past a couple thousand words, that is the best I can say. I hope it helps in some way.

Project Savior said...

Thanks Grant,
Being overly critical would explain why it hit me after reading the proof of my novel, knowing someone else will actually read my stuff.
And also I don't think I can ever get as deep into someone else's mind as I did with my main character Yar, a big part of him solving the mystery had to do with him examining his emotional states.
So I took all the advice here and started rewriting the classic horror tale "Monkey Claw" as a comedy. I'm two pages into it and its coming out pretty good.

Doctor Faustroll said...

My old pal Al used to do absinthe and ether mixed half and half, but that's a bit spendy for me, being on social security and food stamps and all.

I always use writer's laxatives when I experience the occasional writer's blockage: a couple of fifths of something at least 100 proof, a couple of cases of dark beer, strong narcotics, and a pot of extra hot chili with beans and a bottle of DMZ's Hotter N Hilton Honkey Sauce always work for me.

Next morning all the juices are flowing.

tahtimbo said...

I'm kind of new to the novel writing thing (rewriting my very first as I speak), but the advice the jumps into this mind of mine is just write the story as you want to write it and let the genre-thing take care of itself. From what you're describing, they seem to be great ideas and it would be a shame to confine your creativity to a specific style of book.
At the very least, you would have pieces and parts that you could use for other novels. Good luck and thanks for stopping by my site. Oh, I really want to read your version of the Monkey's Paw.