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Oct 24

Thoughts on Writer’s Block | Abhinav Jain

About the author

Long-time science-fiction and fantasy geek, lover of all things star wars and warhammer (mostly all things anyway). He is currently an aspiring writer in his two favourite, afore-mentioned genres and he is also a book reviewer for The Founding Fields and a movie reviewer for 24 FPS Movie Reviews. You can follow him on twitter @abhinavjain87 and be subjected to a string of tweets throughout the day about (mostly) my writing or retweets he likes.

Thoughts on Writer’s Block

Depending on who you ask, writer’s block either exists or it doesn’t. This is dependent on what you consider to be writer’s block and is nothing more than a war of semantics. So let’s just keep it simple: What to do when the words just don’t flow and you really struggle to get your thoughts down on paper or on screen?

For me, its just as simple: I write. Getting the words down is the hardest thing about being a writer, because that’s our job description, to write the words down that over the course of days, weeks, months, and possibly years, will hopefully turn into a story that people will want to publish. If we don’t have those words down, we aren’t doing our job.

As such, it is important to have some kind of a schedule to stick to, it may be that you want to write 100 words a day, 500, 1000, 2000, or 10000. It doesn’t matter. That daily regiment is important because it teaches us the necessary discipline to hone our craft.

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I find it difficult to stick to such a routine. In fact, the only time I’ve ever managed a daily regimen like this was for NaNoWriMo last year. For those who don’t know, for the National Novel Writing Month (held in November every year), the goal for those who are participating is to write a 50,000 word novel in that month, which translates to 1667 words a day. I personally managed about 70,000 words or so for that first draft, although it needs massive revisions, especially rewrites. It was a brutal experience but it taught me the most valuable lesson of being a writer: words are important, get them down.

For this year, I set myself the goal of 420,000 words for the year. This includes fiction writing, reviews, blogposts, and the like. There are two reasons for this mainly. One is that having a goal, I can motivate myself to write even when I’m not feeling the muse-mojo. Second, tracking my wordcount for the year will help me to plan things better next year and figure out what my focus has been. At last count, end of August, I’d written a little over 300,000 words all told. You can see a rough breakdown of things at my blog here.

http://sonsofcorax.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/august-report/

Anyways, back to the idea of those struggling days where writing is just not flowing at all. I’ve often procrastinated and not written anything on particular days. Reasons are several: I was either focusing that night on my reading challenge, or was watching some old TV shows, or a movie, or traveling. But on the days when I sat down to write and my head was all jumbled up? I just wrote anything that came to mind. My NaNoWriMo novel was largely written with this approach, which is why its a mess of concepts in true stream of conscious writing. I wrote either the actual narrative, or I spent some time working my brain by writing background lore. Its amazing what kind of results you get out of it!

Of course, a general ambience also helps to get in the mood and work those writing muscles. I do that by listening to music, doesn’t matter what kind: lyrical or instrumental. I play my music for background noise and because listening to music generally has a calming effect on me. Irish drinking music, movie soundtracks, video game soundtracks, some random french and romanian songs, variety of Bollywood soundtracks and so on. I listen to a lot of stuff. It all helps me write.

Case in point, I wrote the first 5000 words of my current work in progress, an Indian-mythology inspired urban fantasy, to the OST for the first Mass Effect game. Weirdness! On that first day I sat down to write, I did about 500 words within only 15-20 minutes. The music was just so inspiring however that I wrote another 500 words in the next 15-20 minutes and voila, I’ve been writing at least 1000 words a day for every single of the twenty-three days I’ve worked on it, bar two. Its been fantastic.

So, there you have it. That’s how I push myself to write, even when I’m not feeling the magic.

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