An old man sits in the middle of the road. He patiently looks at the oncoming cars honking at him. Screams and shouts of warning grab his attention as he turns his head to observe the people standing on the sidewalk.
Ten feet away, a young boy has just begun eating his chocolate ice cream when the sound of a crash startles him. He knows something bad has happened because his eyes are frantically covered with hands. But then … the world pauses – like a few dots racing each other in a circle while you wait for the internet connection to improve.
In short, writer’s block has announced its arrival.
If I had followed Ernest Hemingway’s advice, I would have intentionally left the story right in the middle of the climax. “That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.”
But now that I am stuck in an invisible prison, what should I do? If you’re with me in this predicament, then let’s solve this problem together.
First, you need to exhale loudly and then close the document.
Yes, you need to stop worrying about finishing the piece. You have to give your mind a break. It doesn’t mean you should give up on your work. Instead, spend your time trying to read more books or browsing thesaurus to learn new words.
You will find, however, that sometimes neither of these pieces of advice will work.
Janet Burroway explains in Writing Fiction that you can program yourself to write by simply following a few exercises every day: writing a journal, freewriting, or completing writing prompts.
So, why not go ahead and write about how frustrated you feel right now? Write about why boring things are boring, or about what you saw when you went to get your coffee. How the café looked like; how people sat huddled together in groups; what whispers you heard.
When you are not writing, you are a reader, an observer, or a protagonist. So, pay attention to the little and big things in the real world and incorporate them into your story. Your fears can turn into monsters that are defeated by your main character like J.K. Rowling transformed her depression into malicious dementors.
In Writing from the Inside Out, Dennis Palumbo says observing our surroundings strengthens our writing, “We’re sensory beings … We give things meaning. Put the two together and you have the writer’s true raw materials.”
Today, on the third sip of my Mocha Frappuccino, I noticed how the condensed water looked like an oversized bag on the table. All of a sudden, I could see that no blood was spilled on the scene. I now knew why the old man willingly risked his life. Why the owner of a black Volvo winked at him and swerved past him with bags of dollars stolen from a nearby bank thrown in the car’s backseat. Why the police car speeding after him hit a streetlight while a child wailed in the background with an empty ice cream cone in his hand.
By Habiba Tahir
Habiba Tahir is a freelance content creator and journalist. She plans to publish her first novel as soon as her characters will let her think. Read more at: https://habibach.com
- Janet Burroway – WritingFiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft
- Dennis Palumbo – Writing from the Inside Out: Transforming Your Psychological Blocks to Release the Writer Within