I often hear my dear writerly folks speak about the dreaded writers’ block. I see discussions on this affliction, and complete websites and even books devoted to it. Well, there’s definitely no writers’ block in writing books on writers’ block, is there?
But I find all these discussions a bit exaggerated. For me at least (and it has been often remarked how I might be of another species altogether), writers’ block seems to be like the pandemic that I’ve been immune to despite living in the same world as the others. Either it is that, or it is the fact that I am somewhat of an unconventional writer.
Let me take up this space (and hopefully your time) to state why I haven’t succumbed to this blight so far. Kindly bear with me.
I write intuitively.
Intuitive writing is when you become your characters and write the story as they would react to the situations. In short, you detach yourself from playing god to your characters and let them flow of their own free will. So, if I am at a difficult point, I ask myself, “How would this person react? What character attributes does she have? If I were her, what would I have done?” These are the questions that carry the story forward.
I realized only recently that a lot of people who write for long-running television soaps practice intuitive writing. They create characters and scenarios and then let them out to play. And it always helps them to build those large volumes of highly interesting content.
I plan in advance.
I don’t plot. I plan. Now there’s a difference in the two. When you plot, you sit down and storyboard everything, even the minutest details. Some authors even go as far as to plot details such as the color of their characters’ dress, which may not even be mentioned in the book. However, I don’t go that far. Instead, I have the basic outline of the story in my mind, or if I’m not too lazy, written down somewhere. I know the turning points in the story. I know the climax. Then it only becomes a matter of carrying my characters forward till there. Coupled with intuitive writing, this becomes an interesting way to propel the story forward.
Remember, what you write at first is only your rough manuscript. It is going to get edited several times. So it doesn’t really matter what flies off your mind the first time. It will be polished to perfection later on.
I have multiple WIPs.
I know many eyebrows are going to be raised for this one. This is definitely a most unconventional way to write. I do flirt with several stories at one go. (But each story feels I am only with them when I am with them — hallmark of a Casanova). I don’t even have specific time slots as to which story I should write when. I just take up one at a time, the one I am thinking the most strongly about, and then unleash my fury on it. If I have a difficult time with it, I have no qualms in keeping it aside and picking up another one. Even as we speak, I have at least four stories in various stages of completion.
Do this only if you are good at compartmentalizing things. It works for me because I never work on two stories on the same day. If I need to switch, I’ll always do it on the next day.
I walk. I have long baths. I go to bed early but sleep late.
A writer needs all of that. Free time. Me time. These are the times when you are doing nothing else, when your mind is cleared up to think. Usually it’s what you think in those few minutes before you sleep that becomes your best written work. Many wonderful stories are created in the bathrooms. (Okay, that came out wrong!) Anyway, you get the drift. Try finding time for yourself to think. Not write, not plot, just think. You will be thankful you did that.
So, these are just some of the ways. There are several others that might be escaping my mind now. But, one thing’s for sure — I am not going to let a writers’ block hamper my productivity.