Writer’s block

writer’s block
  1. 1.
    the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.

So you want to write, but it ain’t happening?

How about writing some rubbish?

writers-block2.jpg

How good are you at actually writing/typing?

How many words can you write?

Here’s an exercise that I found useful.

Type 100 words as fast as you can and time yourself.

Type anything

Your shopping list, what’s on the radio at the minute and what you think about the artist, how hot your coffee is, how this piece is going to change your life, how the computer is playing up and keeps crashing because of the aliens, or how you have writer’s block.

Just start and don’t stop until you have at least 100 words.

Whatever you want, it’s all good.

Just type. NOW.

Just sit down at the computer or typewriter or grab a pen or pencil or felt tip and start scribbling on that blank page, or the back of a napkin, or if you’re really stupid, you can actually write on the wood of the table that you’re leaning on, and if you’re lucky enough to be a reasonable typist and have access to Word, then the word count is conveniently located at the bottom left hand side of the page so that you can see exactly how many you’re up to, and because you’re aiming for just 100 words, you can listen to the radio and enjoy the music at the same time as you type.

There you go. One long rambling sentence typed without stopping or even much in the way of thinking.

116 words. 570 characters. 2 minutes 17 seconds.

Think about it. (116 words / 137 seconds) x 60 seconds = 50 words in a minute = which works out at a nice even 3000 words in an hour.

Now allowing for some creative input, thinking and corrections, let’s call it 1000 words in an hour.

2 hours a day x 5 days a week = 10,000 words a week. 9 weeks and you’ve got a novel.

It doesn’t read right, I hear you say.

It doesn’t matter. You can edit it later.

At this stage we’re just looking at how fast you can make a story and then strip it down and develop it.

What does matter is the time it took you to write it and the fact that you now know that you can write at that speed.

But what about the story? It has to have a beginning middle and end, doesn’t it? 

Of course; but let’s just explore the 116 words that I wrote and see where we go. You have to give it time and a little thought. Sometimes rubbish can take you to places you never even considered.

Just sit down at the computer or typewriter or grab a pen or pencil or felt tip and start scribbling
Who is sitting down? Does it have to be you? What make is the computer? Why a typewriter? What are you scribbling, is it a last will and testament, or a threat to a neighbour, or a letter to the newspaper, or a love letter?

on that blank page, or the back of a napkin, or if you’re really stupid, you can actually write on the wood of the table that you’re leaning on,
Sorry about the ‘stupid’ bit, but it just came out and I went with it. Nothing personal. Why would you write on a table or a napkin? Do you have a bad memory, are you testing yourself, or are you mad about something and just want to get it out?

and if you’re lucky enough to be a reasonable typist and have access to Word,
How did you learn to type? Why did you choose Windows instead of Apple or vice versa. How old is the computer and did you buy it or your parents, friend, lover?

then the word count is conveniently located at the bottom left hand side of the page so that you can see exactly how many you’re up to and because you’re aiming for just 100 words,
Why just 100 words? Don’t stop there if you’re on a roll. Let it all out.

you can listen to the radio and enjoy the music at the same time as you type.
Does the music remind you of a good or bad experience in your life? Does it take you back to your school days or first dance with your partner?

 

Writers-block.png

 

Now I have to confess that I’m not giving this process much thought and still trying to type as fast as I can, but you can see where I’m going with it.

But I don’t have a story; just an idea about our school crossing patrol man. I just don’t have a clue what to do next.

Here’s one that is familiar to everybody for starting a story and I’ve used it frequently when I have an idea that just might become a story. All you have to do is write – Once upon a time there was a SCHOOL CROSSING PATROL MAN. He…???

Okay; we all know that that is the beginning of a good story because that’s how a good story should always start. Obviously we take it out when the story gets going, but it works. Try it.

Who is he? We know what he does, but what’s special about him? What is going to make him interesting? Is he a war hero? Maybe a Nazi war criminal? A lothario with all the grandmothers delivering their grandchildren to school? Or something else? What does he look like? What’s the weather like? Is there any unusual smell? Does someone pull up in a Rolls Royce?

I wrote a short story called ‘Valentine’s Surprise’ based on a joke a friend told me. Took about an hour.  viewBook.at/ValentinesSurprise

Here’s a quick example.

I found myself in a waiting room the other day and was amazed at the number of people who just sat and stared at their mobile phones. I had a good look at everybody. Their body shape, their dress, their mannerisms, etc., and made some assumptions. Then I decided to write a very short story about them; somewhere around the 300 word mark, just as an exercise. It took me around the half-hour mark to write, weighs in at 646 words and it still needs a lot of editing and a better title, but have a look and I’ll explain.

 

Remember, it’s about mobile phones.

 

THE WAITING ROOM 

They say that you should ‘never judge a book by its cover’; but how could I not? Everyone struggles with preconceived ideas, don’t they? They pigeon-hole. I mean, it’s not just me, you probably do it as well.

For once, time was on my side. I was half-an-hour early.  I peeked around the door. Only one chair remained in a room full of strange strangers and of course it was at the back of the room, exactly in the middle of the horseshoe arrangement.

I walked in and everybody lifted their head to quickly check me out as I passed by; then it was back to the conversation, or magazine, or newspaper, or mobile phone, or book. I had passed inspection and would hopefully be ignored until summoned.

The phones won the day in spectacular fashion; even the Granddad beside me was engrossed. Magazines took second place with two newspapers qualifying in third. Only one book; but considering that that would take forward planning, it wasn’t surprising. What was surprising was the girl on my right. A brightly striped toggle hat ensured that no one could miss her, and oversize black framed glasses ensured that she wouldn’t miss anyone either, but the thing that made her stand out from everyone else was the needles.

She caught me looking, so I quickly checked my watch. Just five more minutes until my appointment; but that turned out to be wishful thinking. Nearly forty minutes later and I was still waiting. Watching others leave one-at-a-time, to be taken into a room and medicated with drugs so powerful, that they guaranteed that no pain would intrude for hours to come. Bliss.

Some people ended up with pills as well. Once I had been given pills, but the relief you get when the needle enters you is just incredible. It’s like a warm ocean enveloping you in its welcoming arms and it just washes over you in the most comforting way; and if you beg enough, then sometimes – just sometimes –  they squeeze in a little extra.

I don’t sit comfortably in the company of people I don’t know. I get nervous. I swallow, then I swallow again, then I cough, then I’m convinced that everyone’s watching, then I swallow…

Everyone had been called, except needles, the granddad and me.

I knew that I would be getting a my relief soon so I forced myself to calm down, and that’s when he touched me.

I thought I was imagining it.

He had his hand on my arm.

He held out his phone, leaned in closer and said, “I’m sending a message thing to my daughter, Susan, but I can’t figure out to to send it.” He smiled and I could see that he had a black gap where a tooth should have been. “Could you help me?”

“Sure,” I replied. I quickly looked down at the screen, found ‘Susan’ in contacts, confirmed the number with him and pressed send, just as he was called.

“Thank you. I can hardly see the screen at my age.”

Hopefully, I would be next. I urgently needed my medication.

“Old people? They just can’t seem to grasp technology.” Needles said.

“No,” I replied.

I didn’t want to talk to her. I didn’t feel comfortable; but I had to ask about the needles. “So… Can I ask you what it’s going to be?”

She stretched it out so that I could see it. “It’s going to be a scarf with mittens attached so that my little boy can’t loose them.”

“My Mum was always knitting. I remember something similar when I was at school.”

“Me too, but I couldn’t find anything like it, so I thought I’d give it a go.”

“It looks great.” It was all I could think of.

“I’ve never seen the dentist so busy before.”

“No, neither have I.”

Okay, it isn’t great and it isn’t finished, but you’ll remember how it was going to be about mobile phones. That was my intention, then ‘Needles’ popped into the picture. She wasn’t planned, wasn’t invited and I don’t know how she got there, but the story then moves from mobile phones to needles and potentially a drug den. (at least, that was the intention)

The story can be developed if I fall going up the stairs and have to be rushed to hospital, or if I start chatting with ‘Needles’ and find out that she’s divorced and we subsequently like each other, and on and on.

That’s what happens when you write rubbish. You take it to the next level. You correct your mistakes and sometimes, it writes itself and you just watch where it goes.

Ideas? They come from everywhere, so just sit down and start typing something.

Good luck.