We are in the middle of NaNoWriMo, which means if you’re participating in this intense creative exercise you should have half of a new modern classic written. It probably has a rich sense of place, complex characters that the readers will love despite their flaws, romance, suspense, melancholy, hopefully a little karate and reading it will be a transformative experience. Or maybe the weight of these expectations has left you paralyzed.
If you’re stuck, I can relate. I’ve struggled with this blog post for a long time. At first I thought it would be funny to start a blog post about inspiration and writer’s block with jokes about how I couldn’t write it because of my writer’s block. Ha. After pages of hilarious riffing on that theme I realized it was trite and deleted everything. Back to the drawing board. Back to the blank screen. The screen stayed blank. For what seemed like hours I stared and the screen stared back. Then I thought I heard a voice coming from the screen. That was it! Someone discovers they have a talking computer screen and a beautiful friendship develops. No, a spicy romance. No, a professional rivalry. But what is the screen’s name? It has to have a name …
The computer screen still doesn’t have a name. I can’t get past it. Also I was supposed to be writing a blog post, not a brilliant story about sentient computer screens. So, stuck on your novel? Clearly I’m in no position to hand out advice. Instead here are some better sources of guidance and inspiration:
“Pep Talks for Writers” is written by the executive director of NaNoWriMo and contains ideas and advice for everyone from veteran writers to those struggling to get their first words down on paper.
Sometimes a writer needs prompts or exercises to get words flowing. Try “Writer’s Workbook: Daily Exercises for the Writing Life” or “The 3 A.M. Epiphany: Uncommon Writing Exercises That Transform your Fiction” for some prompts that might get you unstuck.
Julia Cameron is probably best known for her bestseller, “The Artist’s Way.” Her third book on the creative process, “Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance,” offers guidance for overcoming times when inspiration is lacking.
“The War of Art” helps you identify the obstacles causing procrastination or creative blocks and shows you how to defeat them. Hopefully it involves karate.
“Write. 10 Days to Overcoming Writer’s Block. Period” Granted, ten days is a lot when you’re writing a novel in thirty, but maybe you could skim this?
“Outwitting Writer’s Block” stresses that having writer’s block is a common thing, and that it is how you deal with it that matters.
“Help! for Writers: 210 Solutions to the Problems Every Writer Faces” -210 solutions in one book! Surely one of them is the solution you need.
Turn to the greats for advice on your writing troubles or just for the comfort of knowing you’re in good company with “Advice to Writers: A Compendium of Quotes, Anecdotes, and Writerly Wisdom From A Dazzling Array of Literary Lights” or “The Little Black Book of Writer’s Wisdom.” Here’s a heartening bit of insight from the latter book:
“A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”