16 Ways to Destroy your Writer’s Block

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As writers we’ve all been there. We can be sitting before our computers or papers and stare at the blankness. The blank paper seems to reflect our minds in that state of writer’s block. We seem to forget how easily ideas and writing come to us. Our once fluid keystrokes and sentences turn into stumbling messes. I’ve been there many times.

Here’s some advice I have gathered from my experiences.

  1. Read a book
  2. Read helpful blogs/vlogs about writer’s block (check)
  3. Identify a reason for you block, if there is one (like lack of motivation) and fix the problem
  4. Use writing prompts
  5. Look over your writing
  6. Note the progress you have made until that point
  7. Compile a list of bad writing habits you need to work on
  8. Take a break and do the things you’ve been putting off
  9. Or do nothing at all (but not for too long)
  10. Take the time to do some research
  11. Try meditation to get out of your head
  12. Take a walk in nature to stimulate your senses
  13. Have a cup of tea or coffee with a notebook at hand and no electronics
  14. Try doodling to get the creative juices flowing
  15. Turn writer’s block and procrastination into rehearsal

I want to delve further into the rehearsal concept.

This tip I got from Roy Peter Clark’s Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer. In this book Clark suggests that we shouldn’t view procrastination or writer’s block as destructive, but instead turn it into something constructive. He suggests we call it rehearsal instead. We should take this time to write our story in our head. I, for one, do this quite often. It helps us prepare for when we’ve got the mojo to write it on paper.

Here is some more advice he gives:

  • Trust your hands: basically just write some stuff down and don’t think about it. Turn off your brain for a while and let your fingers do the work.
  • Adopt a daily routine: pretty self explanatory.
  • Build in rewards: when you feel like a break or you can’t write for some reason, take that break. Reward yourself with a cup of coffee or tea, go for a nice walk, or even listen to some of your favourite music.
  • Draft sooner: research is good, but sometimes we over-research and that can make writing harder. So he suggests that you write first, so you know exactly what you have to research, and then do the research afterwards to fill in the blanks.
  • Rewrite: the first draft always sucks, so take sometime to rewrite scenes and pages that you want to improve. This will help you during the revision process too.
  • Watch your language: turn your negative thoughts and feelings into positive ones. Turn procrastination and writer’s block into rehearsal, preparation, and planning.
  • Set the table: when things get backed up and your desk gets taken over by other tasks, take the day away from your daily writing routine and get these tasks done. This will make it easier for you to get writing done tomorrow.
  • Find a rabbi: talk to that person in your life that is always supportive and positive.
  • Keep a day book: have a notebook with you at all time so when you have an idea, you can write it down.

There are endless lists of how to get past your writer’s block, but I want to give you the most important piece advice of all.

16. Find what works for you! 

I hope this helped you and thank you for reading,

Lalia LaRose

 

Theme: Beyond ‘Once Upon a Time’

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First off, what is theme? Theme is how your story relates to reality and issues of life. In fairy tales theme was directly related to the lesson the story teaches children. For example: Hansel and Gretel- don’t eat too much candy! Theme is one of the five elements of story that I summarized here: How to Start Writing.

Theme defined: a main idea or underlying meaning in a story. This idea or meaning can be stated directly or indirectly.

I’ve found that theme has become the underrated element of story writing. Today people are more interested in plot and conflict. They want read about how people fall in love or how the main character kicks some ass. there is less focus on theme, even though it is essential. In most romances you’ll see the theme of: love conquers all.

I personally believe that as writers we have a responsibility to use theme to make our readers think. Theme is a great vessel to carry social issues we want our readers to be aware off. I’ve read a fantasy book that draws attention to racism and still keeps me entertained by the story.

Some of the best stories are the ones the tackle hard issues we see around us everyday. Issues like: racism, bullying, politics, gender equality, body image, and so on. We all have strong feelings about something and theme can help us communicate this to readers. Theme is the thesis sentence of your story. It is the point you are trying to make.

However, don’t forget thar you can have more than one theme! Having multiple themes brings dynamic interest to your story, but beware of over doing it. You should make one theme stronger than the rest, just like how you should have a main plot and subplots. In my opinion each subplot should have a theme. Sometimes this just happens naturally, other times you need to exercise your creative muscles to make it work.
(Did I mention in my blog post about PLOT that subplots are amazing?)

Now, how does one pick a theme? It depends on your writing process.

If you like building plot, focus on what your plot is about and find something that resembles theme. Example: if you’re writing about the end of the world, then your theme will probably be about protecting nature and the earth.

If you focus on characters, then take a look at the struggles your main character has gone through. What issues does your character fight for? If your character fight for gender equality, then most likely that will be your theme.

If your story highlights setting, then you might want to think about the history of the setting. For example: if your story takes place in Scotland you might want your theme to relate to the values you find in Scotland.

If you like writing conflict, then theme will be your best friend. Conflict can arise when there is opposition to your theme. For example: your theme is ‘love conquers all’ and so your conflict will struggle against this theme.

For some people it is the theme they start with, and usually it is easy for these people to create their theme.

Alas, this is the end of my Five Elements of Story blog series. If you have any thoughts on this post, or suggestions for future post comment below.

Thanks for reading,

-Lalia LaRose

Types of Conflict and How to Apply Them

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Conflict is one of the five elements of story, which I briefly explained here: How to Start Writing. Conflict is defined in literature as: a literary element that involves a struggled between two forces. According to the website Daily Writing Tips, there are 7 Types of Narrative Conflict. These 7 conflicts can be group into two categories: External and Internal.

External Conflict is when an outside force is in conflict with the protagonist.

Internal Conflict is when an inside force is in conflict with the protagonist, generally within themselves.

The line between these two categories can be blurred in some situations, like when it comes to faith and religion, which brings me to out first conflict. In a story you can have more than one type of conflict, and I actually encourage everyone to use multiple types of conflict. In our real lives we deal with many, if not all, of these conflicts at the same time. Your character should be dealing with similar conflicts, depending on their circumstances.

Character vs. Fate/God:

This is a conflict in which the character is at odds with their fate/destiny, or even with the God(s) they believe in that have control over their fate. This is an external conflict, because Fate and/or God is an outside force that the character struggles with. This can be seen as Character vs. Supernatural as well.

Character vs. Nature:

This is a conflict where your character struggles against the forces of nature, like natural disasters or even animals. This conflict is external and is generally used in survival stories. This conflict can also be used if your character is fighting for eternal young and immortality, since death and aging is a part natural part of life.

Character vs. Supernatural:

This is a struggle between a character and supernatural forces or beings. For example, a struggle between your protagonist and a poltergeist. This may also include God(s), Vampires, Werewolves, Ghosts, Magic, and so on. This can be included with Character vs. Character if one or all characters have supernatural abilities.

Character vs. Society:

This is an external conflict between your character and society or representations of society. For example, your character is fighting for gay rights in an anti-gay society. A single character can be a representation of a society (or societal rules) that your character struggles against, for example: Your character fights against a tyrannical monarch. In this situation the conflict can be Character vs. Society and/or Character vs. Character. In your story if your character is trying to make a radical or large change in the world, not only for themselves, but for others, there is probably a conflict against society.

Character vs. Technology:

Simply put, this is a struggle between your character and some form of technology. For example, your character is fighting against an army of robots, or they are struggling against their addiction of candy crush. This can be applied in stories of hackers, science fiction, and any story where technology has taken of a negative role. This is generally an external conflict, but in the case of mind control technology, you can argue this to be an internal conflict as well, since the character would struggling to regain control other their own mind.

Character vs. Character:

This is the common conflict between your character and one or more other characters. Generally this is seen as protagonist(s) vs. antagonist(s) in the fight of good versus evil, right versus wrong, and light versus dark. This is typically an external conflict, but there are some strange situations where it can be seen as an internal conflict as well. For example, when a part of your character (like a split personality) takes on a physical body that your character has to fight against.

(SPOILER ALERT: the best example I can think of this is in Once Upon a Time when Regina struggles against the Evil Queen. They are technically the same person, but in two separate physical bodies.)

Character vs. Self:

This is the only true internal conflict in literature. This happens when your character struggles with themselves. It can be a struggle over faith, beliefs, or feelings. It can also be a struggle against a split personality, or voice in their head. Jekyll and Hyde is a great example of this.

 

Now you just need to figure out your main conflict. Keep in mind what type of conflict it is, what/who it is with, and WHY there is a conflict. What started the conflict? Why can’t it be resolved easily? How will the conflict be resolved? What problems does this conflict create? What other conflicts contribute to this conflict? And so on…

Remember: multiple conflicts creates interest and a more complex story.

IMPORTANT: Every plot and sub plot needs conflicts.

This is the basic information you need to know when it comes to conflict. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions for future blogs, comment below or contact me Here.

Thank you for reading,

-Lalia LaRose