Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

writing- 5 escapes from Writers’ Block November 18, 2019

Filed under: Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:15 pm
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Diana Gabaldon once told us that she doesn’t believe in Writer’s Block; she thinks it’s more about Writer’s Inertia.

i.e.

An object (writer) at rest remains at rest.

An object (writer) in motion (writing) remains moving (writing).

So what is the solution when you are writing and come up against a brick wall?  Just because it feels like a block, doesn’t mean it is.  You may need to give that project a rest from your conscious mind and let your subconscious work things out.  To do that, you may need to distract your conscious mind a bit.  You may not need to keep moving forward, so long as you keep moving.

Don’t fret about it or dig yourself into a quicksand state of mind when you’re really just walking on the beach.  Yeah, it may be a bit of a workout, but it’s not killing you.

Here are 5 suggestions to deal with Writers’ Block:

1. Write something else.

Stuck with your novel?  Write a short story, maybe in your novel world, maybe something completely different.  Write a poem.  Write an article.  Writing is writing.  You’re still making progress even if it’s not on your main project.  If you step away, eventually you’ll see something from a distance that you missed while you were too close.

2. Put the problem that’s stymied you into your subconscious.

Before you go to bed, think about the issue you’re struggling to resolve.  Consider each character and what the problem is, and often in the morning you will wake up with a solution.

3. Just write ANYTHING about those characters.

Ignore the main project and just play with your characters.  Conduct an interview with your protagonist, your antagonist, a minor character or two.  Write a letter to their grandmother, their fourth grade teacher, the kindergarten best friend, etc as a way into their psyche.  Bonus!  These sorts of things are awesome bonus material for your newsletter subscribers!

4. Pick up a Writing Thesaurus

These amazing resources by Angela Ackerman and Rebecca Puglisi are fantastic.  Everything is at your fingertips!  Go through the thesaurus, noting character traits that are relevant to the character you’re dealing with and consider how the traits could impact characters’ choices. (I use Emotional Wound Thesaurus. Emotion Thesaurus 2nd edition. Negative Trait Thesaurus. Positive Trait Thesaurus) These seem to always give me lots of ideas to resolve whatever stalls me.

5. Timed write

Set the timer, start writing and don’t pause or overthink.  Put words down for 10 minutes on anything relating to the characters, their living situation, their past choices, their wishes, their families, etc.  Write out possible endings.  Imagine a character telling their therapist about what’s frozen them and why they (their story) aren’t going forward.  Free write in stream of consciousness.  Usually something shakes loose and you’ll get some direction for your project. Oh- and if something comes to mind that you instantly think “NO! You can’t write THAT down!” that is ABSOLUTELY something you NEED to write down!  THAT thing is probably the plug causing all your trouble.  PULL THAT PLUG!!  Write it down!

I think a sense that you’re ‘blocked’ is often your brain falling for the ‘this isn’t good enough’ lie and getting all caught up in getting something ‘right’ on the page.  A first draft is about finishing, not about perfection, so tell that inner critic to shut up while you power through your crappy first draft, and promise to let the critic work out all the issues in the second draft, when you need a critical eye to get things cleaned up.  You can’t edit a blank page.  Even the worst writing can be fixed.  Get writing!

Sometimes it’s okay to realize you don’t know where the story goes next.  This is a common pantser problem! We write ourselves into corners and need some ingenuity to work our way out.  Sometimes we need to erase the trail and go back a scene or two to change direction.  Sometimes we just have to wait in our painted corner until the resolution appears (or the paint dries!).  In the meantime, keep writing.  When you’ve forgotten that troublesome piece, when you return to it, often the solution pops up as you re-read it!  Time is a cure.  Just work on something else while you let that project simmer.  Simmering isn’t a block.  Things taste better if they’ve simmered a while.

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Enough clichés for you in this?  🙂

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Go forth and write.  You’ve got this.

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PS. I’m an Amazon affiliate.

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poem- push on January 28, 2018

Filed under: Poetry,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 3:28 pm
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We labour in monotonous isolation

Words falling onto pages

magic spells

new worlds

It might be good.

It might be worth sharing.

It might just be,

what it needs to be for us

to set our demons free.

Isolation and monotony,

and then someone

you respect

says

“Such lovely prose!”

or “beautifully wrought characters”

or “Loved it!”

and you think there’s hope

for your imaginary friends

and your imaginary world

and your imaginary dreams.

Labouring becomes inspired

by encouraging analyses.

 

poem- grateful December 12, 2017

You can

so

you do.

Time.

Faith.

Encouragement.

You give yourself

in generous helpings,

spinning your blessings

into our blessings

into your blessings

into our blessings.

Oh, I am grateful

for such a

giving

heart!

I’m deliriously thankful

to be

amid

this dancing, scribing circle

of joy.

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Another one for Diana, whose generousity of time and spirit are an inspiration.

Early in my publishing life, editor Sylvia Taylor spoke at a workshop about the importance of community: how as writers we reach up for guidance and assistance  and we reach down to share benefit of our experience.  I have seen many examples of this in the last decade, to my privilege and joy.  Just this week, on one hand I purchased the book from a writer I’d encouraged at a conference, when this book was a dream, and on the other hand, I received an endorsement for my new book from a best-selling author. It’s a giant circle of support.  We’re each other’s readers, promoters, flag wavers, editors, and shoulders to cry on.  If you’re a writer, don’t sit alone, join a circle! You belong where people *really* understand about the voices in your head! 🙂  I highly endorse writing conferences as being the places to meet.

 

 

 

 

Micropoem-How to become a writer May 22, 2015

Filed under: Poetry,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 4:43 pm
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Read

Write

Repeat

 

poem- murder May 6, 2015

Filed under: poem,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 4:57 pm
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It’s awkward

all this repeated death.

Everyone has the solution

to remove the trouble maker

Everyone has a special skill

that will do the necessary damage.

How would you…?

Count down.

3, 2. 1.

You could…

From every department

something new.

Murder is not hard to do

if it imaginary, and there’s

not practical follow-through.

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I am presently writing a collection of short stories set in a high school.  The staff at my school keeps coming up with suggestions about the next murder.  It’s been quite entertaining!    I had no idea that apparently all teachers can come up with a scary death related to their subject area in under 3 seconds.  How about you?  My husband, (a Youth Probation Officer…) is appalled.  lol

UPDATE: This project became Murdering Mr. Edwards and was published by Coffin Hop Press April 2018 https://coffinhop.com/crime/murdering-mr-edwards/

 

 

poem- enticed May 3, 2015

Filed under: Poetry,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 11:00 am
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She leaves the wine bottle in the bottom desk drawer

undoes two buttons on her white blouse,

French cuffed, of course.  Lace peeks out.

Jeweled pendant lies between her breasts, the chain

offers a direction.

She stands, displacing gravity to expand the view.

Her black pumps click on the linoleum in the hall.

She pretends to talk on her cell phone,

pausing by his open door; her chest rises on a

tingling laugh she knows he won’t resist.

Her black pencil skirt covers the assets tightly,

in taunting style,

“See you later, then!” she tells her imaginary

phone companion,

as she strolls to the photo copier room,

trailing temptation behind her

without a backwards glance.

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(A poem based on a new novel project).

 

poem- almost January 3, 2015

Filed under: Poetry,Writing — Shawn L. Bird @ 1:15 am
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When you think

that you’re finished,

that all the Ts are crossed

and the Is are dotted,

that every word is brilliant,

that the reader will be on the edge

of her seat from first page to last,

then you submit your work to your editor,

Who shows you

that you’re wrong.

 

 
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