Tuesday, September 23, 2014

SPEED BUMP

post by Lynn

I did a search on Pinterest for the phrase "writer's block" and up popped lots of "pins" about this pesky aspect of the writing process. I quit counting at 450. Obviously "writer's block" is the metaphor of choice for many writers.

Not me. Not any more.

I believe that the way you visualize a thing affects how you feel about it. When I hear "writer’s block," I picture a big concrete box, or a massive wall--something solid and insurmountable. So I asked myself, do I really want to look at this slow-downed feeling I sometimes get as an almost-insurmountable block? Nah. I want to choose something more permeable and less permanent. Otherwise, I’ll psych myself out and quit writing.

Lately, my favorite metaphor for this phenomenon is a speed bump. Think about it. What are you being asked to do when you approach a speed bump? Slow down, and look around. Are there pedestrians crossing the parking lot? Is there a stop sign ahead? There’s a reason you need to slow down, because there's something you need to be aware of.

In one of my works-in-progress (fiction) I recently reached a fizzle-out moment. After a spurt of panic in my gut, I told myself to chill. I visualized a speed bump. I slowed down. I re-read my latest pages and asked: what do I need to be aware of? It dawned on me that I still had not zeroed in on a precise point of view. I was all over the place in third person, with some omniscient undertones in one part.

So I have been reading my craft books and, with this particular story in mind, revisiting all the nuances of third person. I did a writing exercise suggested in one of the books.

Now that I am on firmer footing (multiple third person, medium distance) with the issue, I feel tugged back to my story. The energy is returning. I can speed up now.

What if I hadn’t hit the speed bump? My point of view would have continued to zigzag, and I would have reached the end and had to go back and do a major clean-up. Not the end of the world—I’m sure I’ll have plenty of revision to do when I reach that point. But I am GRATEFUL that I hit the speed bump when I did. It caught my attention and I made a change.

So I offer to you this suggestion—when the writing stops flowing:


1. Slow down
2. Look around
3. Ask yourself: What do I need to be aware of?

Or, you can visualize a big block if that still works for you. It's your process! :-)


P.S.

Check out Writing Wyoming's Pinterest account. We have compiled lots of valuable links to information in the following categories:

Writing Prompts; Wyoming Writers and Poets; Writing Life; Writing Advice; Writing Events and Opportunities; Books on Writing; Creativity; Poetry; The Business of Writing; and even one called Did You Know This About Wyoming?




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