Shelley Widhalm

Working around writer’s block

In Freewriting, Shelley Widhalm, Writing Processes on September 13, 2015 at 11:00 am

Let your imagination go as you kick past writer's block.

Let your imagination go as you kick past writer’s block.

Writer’s block: my big dread. It’s not just the blank page and the start of the project. It’s being in the middle of something.

Like right now. I set aside a couple of hours to work on my novel about an unhappy waitress who wants to be a musician, but instead I’m checking my email, writing about my blockage and thinking about how nice it is outside.

I know that once I start writing, I’ll get into the process. I’ll lose track of time. I’ll absorb into the story.

That’s because writing is a type of unfolding. It’s a creative process, just like painting with one brush stroke being added to the next and the next until line and form begin to emerge.

How does writing let one thing lead to another? If you lose your conscious, self-editing self and just write, not caring about the result, there will be some possible sloppiness that can be edited out later. The sloppy can be at the grammar level or in character or plot development.

But the idea is to get something down, which can lead to more writing and then to form, as one description opens into the next. It’s a matter of jumping in without caring or worrying over product.

For example, I’m writing my novel as a seat-of-the-pantser writer, instead of writing from an outline, though I know the end scene. I don’t know the arc or how my scenes will lead up to the end.

Each time I sit down to write, I face the blank page and not a specific part of a scene to move the story forward, making me a little insecure. I immediately ask where my book’s heading? Sure, there’s The End, but what about the middle?

Not knowing about the middle is like not knowing what is in the subconscious mind, but interestedly enough, once I start typing wanting to reach 500 or 1,000 words, things bubble out that I don’t expect. I’ve freed up my writing, but because I still have an idea of the ending, I have a framework, but one that is loose.

As a result, I’m writing from another part of myself, one with fewer boundaries and fears because it just wants to push the words out. The scenes are there, but with more of my memory and thoughts and passions embedded in the words.

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