Written by A Guest Author
By Ken Finley
I was sitting in the audience of a writer’s panel at WorldCon in San Antonio when the subject of writer’s block came up. Gail Carrigher was the first to speak, saying there was no such thing. Not one writer on that panel disagreed with her. Several chimed in to express their usual response when they heard someone blaming a lack of productivity on writer’s block. Most were not very charitable.
I was delighted because – I don’t believe in writer’s block. It’s an oxymoron. Writers write. Now, maybe authors and novelists might suffer from a productivity block, but writers? No possible way. If you aren’t writing, you aren’t living. So, what about those other folks – the ones that have somehow lost their way? What can those of us who are blessed with a well overflowing with verbiage suggest to help the less fortunate?
1. First – Don’t Stop
As a High School coach in Academic Decathlon, I meet a lot of bright young people who say they want to be writers. I tell them “You don’t want to be a writer. You either are or aren’t. Have you written your thousand words today?” Far too many of my students wander off thinking that I’m out of my mind. I’m not saying that you have to be born with an innate talent for writing to be a writer. You just have to decide you want to write and do it. Elmore Leonard in his 1982 interview with Writer’s Digest said “… The writer has to have patience, the perseverance to just sit there alone and grind It out. And if it’s not worth doing that, then he doesn’t want to write. …”
The single most important element of being a writer is the ability to give yourself permission to write, and never ever giving yourself permission to not write.
3. Carry a recorder
A great quote in Terry Brooks’ ‘Sometimes the Magic Works’ explains that when the muse strikes, you can’t say ‘come back later’.
The muse may not return.
4. Carry a notebook
Notebooks with pockets are also handy, but the pockets aren’t necessary. When travelling, I’ll often pick up city maps with attractions and restaurants and stuff them in the notebook for later filing.
12. Research a related topic
Even fantasy doesn’t occur in a vacuum and the more reality you integrate the more likely the reader will go along with the unbelievable. Pick an aspect of your unreal, compare it to the real and prepare to explain in writing how they are different. You’ll be surprised how much will migrate to your fantasy story. It does wonders for the texture of the story.
16. Ignore those who say you can’t
There are so many people who don’t write who are perfectly willing to tell you that you can’t write. They’ll tell you about the depth of the slush piles. They’re real experts on how hard it is to get an agent to take you on as a client. Ignore them.