I’m stuck again. My goal to work one hour each day on my novel disappeared under the pressures of still being unemployed, a shrinking monthly household budget and just life in general. For awhile there it was the first thing I did after turning on the computer – armed with a cup of coffee, I diligently worked my way through my designated time slot.
Now I’m stuck in exactly the same place in the plot that has caused my structural difficulties in the past. Which is probably the reason I’m having trouble getting back into a writing process routine. I know, I know…excuses, excuses.
Last November a friend of mine participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). About a week into the writing exercise, she posted on Facebook that she “has run out of words.” Whatever novelists want to call it – writer’s block, out of words, stuck – there are things you can do to become unstuck. I suggested she try my first line of defense which is to simply write, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” over and over and over until you stop writing it and return to the flow of your own writing. (The sentence was commonly used in typing drills because it contains every letter in the alphabet).
Another writer’s block exercise I like is one I heard about in an interview with Billy Joel. He related how he would act as if he didn’t have writer’s block – he would keep to his routine which was to go to his usual coffee shop, settle in at his regular table and write down whatever he saw.
But my favourite unblock writing exercise is one of my own devise. I open a Word document, choose as my topic an angle of the section of the novel I’m trying to write, change the font to “Wingdings” and then start writing. The words in my head are transferred to paper but magically appear in code. Since they become a bunch of “meaningless” symbols, I can’t rethink, change, or argue with myself. I’m focused on getting my thoughts down; on the writing process itself.
It’s time take my own advice and get back to my novel – whether it’s in code or not.