If, as I suggested in an earlier post, writers have more ideas than they can cope with, how about Writer’s Block? And is it a creativity killer?
Block prevents the transfer of ideas into word-count on the page. The idea is usually in there, somewhere, but not well-formed enough to get past our internal filters. Sometimes, unrelated ideas bubble up and distract the mind from the current page. At other times, the search for “exactly the right word” that conveys the clear image in the writer’s mind can be an overwhelming challenge.
Welcome to my world.
I don’t believe Block need be a killer. Some writers take a walk, others catch up on domestic chores, some take the potentially-dangerous time-consuming step of trying to catch up with social network, emails, blog-reading… Gentle distraction can allow ideas to clarify themselves, or to settle down into usable form. But the latter path can lead to total entanglement in “the writing net”, a never-ending treadmill of unopened emails, blogs about writing, guides on how to write…
My own solution is to save the file and begin or continue work on another story. This is why I have a “kindle-full” of novels and short stories in progress. My 2014 New Year’s Resolution? To finish existing works faster than I begin new ones – and that will be harder than any Lenten promise.
Retiring early, I determined to indulge in fun activities. So, after a lifetime engaging my left-brain – Science, Sociology, Market Analysis and Programming – I fired-up my right-brain and moved into the world of words – writing and acting. And the ideas boil up faster than I can type.
They were always there, being filtered and weighed by life experience. Yes, closest companions and muddling managers, you are all there – buy all my books and see if you can spot yourselves!
We can only write what we know – actually, what we have experienced. The more life experience one has, I tell myself, the better is the potential – just potential – for a good yarn. So where does inspiration spark?
Everyone has ideas: not everyone acts on them. Friends who do not write are full of them. “Hey, Andy, here’s a great idea for a story…” I love their interest in my writing, but no more story ideas, please!
Ideas crawl out of the woodwork, leap from half-heard conversations in public places, or the one-sided chatter of someone on a phone. They insinuate themselves while a writer is working on something else. There really is insufficient time in a lifetime to craft all the tales that hover on the edge of perception.
(As evidence, I submit my 2012 post about the up-welling of inspiration experienced on a particularly tedious train journey.)
My first novel became too full of ideas for one book; I had to spread them out over a series, which grows ever longer. Ideas tumbling over themselves!
So, thank you, but no thank you. No more story suggestions, please!
10 thoughts on “From Blocking To Overflow”
Glad to hear you have found a method that works for you.
Hi Eamonn! Well, it works for me, but at the cost of too many unfinished pieces.
How do you handle it?
I never go anywhere without a small notebook in my purse, and I keep one by my bed. When the ideas start flowing they will distract me or keep me awake until I can write them down. Then all is well again.
Same here – every jacket pocket and laptop bag is equipped with pens and a pad. I also use a pocket dictation machine, but only if there’s no-one else around 😉
Sometimes I find the right words by doing something else, and sometimes doing that “something else” leads me astray. But sometimes, just sometimes, I get a feeling that I’m close, and I stick to the writing process. I type different alternative sentences or work groups in different colors and/or different fonts, play with them on the screen, and I come up with something I like. But I have to get that feeling that I’m close, and that doesn’t always happen.
Different things work for different people. You have to find what works for you. A change of setting, exercise… I personally find that starting to do some chore I’d rather not to do often prompts some valuable inspiration that makes me drop everything and dash back to writing 😉
By George, I think you’ve got it! Do something else that needs to be done, but that you’d rather not do. That motivates you to return to writing, but you don’t feel like you’re getting away with something. Motivation and guilt, perfect together.
Whatever gets you through to write
(as John Lennon almost said)
Good post. Whenever an idea pops up, I go to the computer, write the concept, and follow up on it a few days later. Too many ideas tend to clutter your mind. I don’t write down every one, otherwise, I’ll never get things done. Blessings.
So you are overwhelmed with inspiration, too. At least there’s a pile of ideas and concepts ready to roll when the current WIP is finished!