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Ready, Steady, Write: How To Defeat Writer's Block

One of the best books on the subject of fiction writing I have ever read is by Stephen King (yes, the Stephen King) and it's called, On Writing (A Memoir of the Craft). Whether you are new to writing, have been doing so for years - or are simply a fan of the horror maestro, then I urge you to read it. In this fascinating book, Stephen King says that there is no point in waiting for the Muse to show up and give you fantastic ideas - you have to sit down and start writing and then the 'Muse'/imagination/inspiration will join you. I am paraphrasing Mr.King here - but in a nutshell what he says is absolutely correct - just write, write everyday and you'll be surprised how writer's block can be a thing of the past.

My tip to get you started is to write down the first twenty words that come into your mind, in the order that they emerge. They could be any twenty words and in any language - or they could be made up/gobbledygook. Then cross out any words (up to half) that don't give you the feeling that you could make a sentence and include them. After writing around 10 sentences with the remaining words, cross out at least 6 sentences that you feel won't be going anywhere. You'll be left with 4 sentences - that you might able to string together to form a really abstract short paragraph - or four sentences that take you off into different tangents of writing. I am not talking here about writing a book in a day, I am just talking about unblocking the barrier that you might have which prevents you from sitting down and having your Muse come along for the ride.

Many writers will do anything to avoid their daily word target, and as a result their pets are fed, walked, talked to and manicured - their homes are sparkling clean and their fridges are emptied in mammoth snacking sessions - and all due to writer's block. Just think how much you could achieve if you chose one hour a day to write - just one hour - and you sit by your notepad or computer/other writing tool for one hour. (You would not be allowed to look at the Internet though, but you could listen to music.) You would give yourself the promise that after that one hour you could get up and leave - but you have to write at least one sentence. You might find that it's like pulling a plug, the words will trickle out from your mind to the page a few at a time and then - well, you won't be able to stop yourself once you get past that hour, you'll just keep writing.

When a friend remarked to me that she would never write a book unless she was paid upfront for it, it got me thinking, especially as she is a prolific journal and letter writer - because she loves that type of fact-based writing. Her letters and entries are of course written from the heart and are never paid for.

If you love to write but think that a novel's word count is too far out of your reach, then maybe take a leaf out of Bram Stoker's writing style - Dracula was the first book ever written from many POV (Point's of View) and it included snippets of letters and journals, parts of recordings and news articles. This was a complete mish-mash - but it works.

Whichever way you find helps you with writer's block - I wish you huge success in calling forth your Muse - but remember, she'll only come and help you, once you start to write.


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