If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you might remember a previous post about my starting the adventure of writing a novel (a novel approach). Well, there’s good news and bad news.
The good news is that the adventure continues and progress has been pretty good most days. I’d say we’re now halfway there (albeit definitely living on a prayer). The bad news? For the last few weeks, it feels like I’ve hit the proverbial wall. No, not the wall with the handwriting on it (that would be helpful), but the writer’s-block wall with the yellow tape on it that reads, “Detour — no thru traffic.”
So, like all writers before me who have encountered this mortal enemy — this Darth Vader threatening my creative force, this Satan burning my storytelling threads, this Freddy Krueger slashing my plot lines — I have had to really reach to find ways to a) stay strong, and b) practice my wall-climbing.
Here, then, are some tactics I’ve devised to do just that. To wit:
Target the problem. Literally. As in, take a stroll (or two, or three) around Target. I call it looking for inspiration (even if what I’m looking for is a new shampoo). You never know what will trigger an idea. (Besides, who can write while having a bad hair day?)
Feed your imagination — aka, nosh. Or cook. Or I know — bake cupcakes! Lots and lots of cupcakes.
Research. Step away from your laptop and go to the library. (Think of the wall-climbing muscles you’ll build by getting up from your chair and walking through the stacks. To say nothing of the calories and time you’ll burn.) Warm up — and conveniently forget why you’re there in the first place — by getting lost in New Fiction and reading a novel that someone actually did finish writing.
Scout locations to create Scout Finch. If you want everything in your novel to be as accurate as possible (of course you do), then mere library or online research is for suckers. Visit your location in person. It helps if you set the novel locally so that you can spend the day exploring (read “doing anything but sitting in front of an unfinished page”) while still getting home in time to bake another batch of said cupcakes.
Dream, dream, dream. Another way to say that: nap, nap, nap. For one thing, it’s restorative. For another, it’s relaxing. For a third, it’s fun to be in denial.
Pray to the writing gods. Whomever your chosen patron saint — Hemingway, Grisham, Brontë (I’m partial to Charlotte myself), Rowling — send up a wish for a light to help see your way through. Or, at the very least, for a movie version of one of their novels on afternoon TV while you’re waiting for that light.
And so, dear reader, do not fear. The novel is on its way — from my heart through my fingertips to my keyboard. I just need to get over that roadblock of a wall. And I will.
One cupcake at a time.
ⓒ 2019 Claudia Grossman