Writer’s Block

About writer’s block –

Yes, it does exist.

We have a right brain and a left brain. I’m sure you already knew that . But if not—

The right side is your ‘first draft’ side. This is the creative side of the brain that goes crazy when you wake up at 3 a.m., and keeps you awake with ideas churning through your head. This is the brain that starts you writing like mad with a brilliant new idea. This is the brain that lets you write a first draft as if there were no tomorrow.

The left brain is your editor’s side. That’s the side that tells you that nothing you write is good enough. That’s the side that makes you switch the word order in a sentence to make it flow better. When you finish that first draft, this is the side that takes the first draft and tidies it up, edits out all those useless adverbs and inserts more precise verbs instead. Finds the missing commas and gets rid of the extra ones. Left brain is our internal critic.

Unfortunately the left brain is usually dominant. We are conditioned throughout our lives to exercise the businesslike left brain and suppress the gleeful right brain.

That’s why when we meet one of those crazy artists,  we look at them as … well … crazy. They live in their right brain.

Now, here’s the thing about writer’s block.

Writer’s block is the left brain overpowering the right brain.

You can’t force the right brain to work. You have to relax, let it come. Listen to your favourite music, take the dog for a walk, soak for an hour in a hot tub. In those relaxed moments (and at 3 a.m.) the words will flow unimpeded. But the moment you try to CONTROL the process, the left brain takes over. Bam. You’re stuck.

One way to work past writer’s block is just to sit down to write the next section. Don’t try to compose, just doodle with words. Write any words. Just write write write with the forward story in the back of your head. Don’t try to plan, just aim generally for the scene. Once the words begin to flow, you will be able to write that you want.  One good way to get it flowing is to have two characters have an argument. Perhaps you will discard the whole argument, but it can get you moving forward.

Writing a scene in real time, rather than pushing the narrative of the story, is also a good way to get it going. By inserting a bit of emotion, conflict, tension.

Note that these are the very same elements that draw a reader along.

Once you recognise the different functions of the two sides of the same brain, you will be better able to work with it.


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