Monday, August 15, 2011

The Dreaded Writrer's Block

Writer's block is a hot topic among us literary types. How to avoid it, how to break it. We love to share tips and tales of despair and woe about how we just couldn't write for hours/days/weeks. Even the biggest of the big usually have some story about being blocked.

So you guys are going to hate me when I say that I have never had writer's block. Not once in my entire writing career (which started as soon as I knew how letters went together to make words, so almost 30 years). In fact, I usually have the opposite problem: too many ideas, too little time to get them all down.

Ray Bradbury- I think it was in Zeb in the Art of Writing- says that to avoid writer's block, you have to fill yourself up with things every day. Read books, newspapers, street signs, ads. Watch everyone you pass, eavesdrop on any conversation you can, look at everything. He says, in his terribly poetic way, that if you fill yourself up every day with words and ideas, you will never be at a loss for words and ideas.

Luckily, I am one of those people who is interested in just about everything (except politics. Ugh). This means I know a little about a lot of things, but don't have deep knowledge of any particular subject. While this might not be ideal, I think it works well for a writer. Because if I'm interested in almost everything, then I have a higher chance of finding ideas in lots of different places. I even read the crime reports in the local free newspaper. They're mostly DUIs and shoplifters, but every once in a while you get a gem like the guy who killed his brother's cat with a claw hammer and cooked it up in a skillet.

Since I had the kid, I've also discovered inspiration in nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Some of those nursery rhymes are pretty gruesome, if you think about it. I've completed one bizzaro story based on Mother Goose already, and am percolating some others. I've also been working on a series of stories for several years now that are retellings of Japanese folktales; they've all sold so far, so I might be onto something there!

So that's my advice. It may work for you. It may not. Pay attention, and wonder. And fill yourself up so it will all spill out later.

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