Monday, July 31, 2006

Writer's Block Be Gone

After a nine year hiatus from writing, I'm a year-plus into my third novel, the first two of which went unpublished. Over the course of the last year-and-a-half, I've written 80,000+ words and am nearing a first draft I'll feel comfortable sending out into the world.

My life now, as opposed to my earlier writing days, is overrun with workaday pressures, allowing no extended writing time. The opportunities to write are few and short. From the first days I spent working on this book, I figured out that my old habits--which sadly included occasional frustrating writer's block--wouldn't get me through. And very soon after that, I figured out that, for me at least, writer's block has a simple cure.

Allow myself to write utter garbage.

It's a technique I can't recommend highly enough. So here I go, recommending it as highly as I can--but not highly enough...

Allow yourself to write utter garbage.

In fact, at least occasionally, force yourself to write utter garbage. What I mean, really, is not that the output will necessarily suck--it probably will-- but that the anal retentive editor in you should be bound, gagged and locked in the basement closet, silenced completely for an hour or three. Promise him he'll have his day, but don't let it be today.

It took me way too long to figure out that over-reaching perfectionism gaurantees I won't write as often or as much as I should. It's also a near-guarantee that I won't enjoy the process.

The freedom to suck, however, makes me more productive, makes me enjoy the work more, and, ultimately, makes the writing better. If the editor in me--a restrictive, tight-assed malcontent--asserts his will up front, the writing will be both sparse and constrained.

The choice is a clear one. If you find yourself struggling at all with writer's block, give it a try.

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