Monday, March 9, 2015

Writer's Block And Distractions (oooo, SHINY)

Distractions are everywhere.

If you’re a writer, you already know this. You’re reading this blog because you’re distracted right now. I’m grateful that you’re reading this, but it does illustrate something that every writer faces at one point or another.


You think to yourself: I won’t be on the Internet for long…I’ll just check my sales dashboard, and then I’ll get back to work.

So, you check your sales dashboard.

Then, you think to yourself: Well, wasn’t that interesting. I wonder if T. M. Bilderback, or Joe Konrath, or Hugh Howey, or Courtney Milan, or Passive Voice, or (insert your favorite blogger here) has a new entry. I think I’ll go check.

Now you’re checking the blogs of your favorite authors, and reading the new entries.


Hmmm…maybe a quick check of my web page stats…then Facebook for a while…then I need to check Twitter…and maybe chat a bit on Kboards…

Congratulations. You’ve just blown most of your morning. Now it’s time for lunch, and you’ve got nothing to show for your morning.

That’s a distraction problem.

I have it, you have it, and most other writers have it. They may not be distracted by the things I have listed here – they may be distracted by completely different things.

The point is, how do you combat distractions?

I know what works for me. If I ever fall into the well of distraction, I drag myself over to my current manuscript and force myself to write a sentence, then a paragraph, and, before you know it, I’ve lost myself in the story that I’m trying to write. My own work has distracted me away from the distractions!

Another thing that I’d like to discuss is the thing called writer’s block.

My opinion on writer’s block is this: You’ve written yourself into a hole, and you can’t think of a good way out of it without losing a lot of what you write. You really don’t want to sacrifice what you’ve written, but you can’t think of a good way to continue, either…so, what do you do?

I have an old friend that has several writing projects started, but one of his projects in particular is close to his heart, and he’s desperately trying to finish it. He recently asked me what to do to get out of what he called “writer’s block”.

My answer was simple, and I’ve shared it many times before: if you’re stuck, blow something up.

Seriously. Have your heroine get slightly injured in a sudden car crash while she’s driving home from work. You get to describe the accident, and you can take several pages to describe her injuries, the repercussions of those injuries, and whether it really was an accident, or if someone suddenly decided to kill her. It could cause your hero to finally declare his love for the heroine. Or she could be targeted for assassination. Or it could simply be an actual accident. The choices from there mushroom out. Choose the one you feel most comfortable with, and expand your story.

Another example: Your hero is a lineman for an electric company. Shoddy maintenance blows a huge generator at the plant, and electricity is cut off for thousands of people. Now, your hero is outside, trying to repair damage. Or, he’s inside, helping to repair the generator. Or he’s trying to help those that were injured when the generator blew.

Last example: You have a character named Joey Justice, and he has a reputation of accidentally blowing things up.

It happens a lot.

The point is, you’ve caused something to happen to divert your characters’ lives into another direction. You’ve “blown up” the status quo, and given yourself something to write about that will hopefully get your story back under way, and broken your “writer’s block”.

You can let this “explosion” of events be a branch in the characters’ lives. Your hero, or heroine, are tooling along their life in one direction, when, suddenly, BAM! Their lives are thrown into turmoil by happenstance.

Just like real life.

Real life often throws curveballs into our lives that we don’t see coming. How we deal with those curveballs decidedly send our lives into a direction that we hadn’t expected.

Your characters can do no less.

That means, stop distracting yourself, get rid of your writer’s block, and blow something up! It’s the only way to shake things around a little!

Also, you can…

Keep reading!

T. M. Bilderback (But you can call me Michael)

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