Friday, March 16, 2012

Writer's Block and how to overcome it

Today, I'd like to speak about a phenomenon that every writer knows and fears: The all-famous "Writer's Block". All authors know this frightening state of mind. You sit in front of your computer for hours without writing a single word, just staring at the screen. You just can't. Your head is a complete vacuum. Instantly, you find yourself doing all kinds of stuff that keeps you away from that horrible blank screen:

- You read gossip and entertainment blogs.
- You check your Amazon page every hour, checking the ranking of your book and having a bad conscience because you know that you haven't published anything in a while.
- You remember that you need to re-watch all episodes of Lost, Moonlight and True Blood. Oh, and Star Trek - The Next Generation, too. Still in love with Data.
- You scan recipe books you haven't touched in years for new ideas about what to cook (even if you absolutely hate cooking, in my case).
- You start cleaning (now this isn't the worst thing to do while having writer's block - at least you have a clean house afterwards).
- You start plundering your chocolate drawer (not so good).
- You listen to Benedict Cumberbatch reading Keats one more time (get the mp3 here).
- You paint your toenails blue.
- You make yourself a sandwich with every ingredient you can find in the fridge.
- You brush your cat five times a day. (And I really don't mean this in a dirty way. I actually have a cat!)

Having done all that, you still haven't brought a single word to paper. Isn't there any hope for your next book ever to be written? After all, you need to feel what you write.

So is it possible to overcome writer's block? Is there any cure?

Oh yes. For me, music is the key. In the past, I've tried out all kinds of music to see what inspires me most when I'm writing. As a very welcome side effect, this caused triggers. In the meantime, hearing certain songs almost instantly brings me in the right mood to write a scene connected with the feeling that particular music awakes in me.

Surprisingly I don't feel like writing romance when I hear typical "romantic" music. For instance, I've written nearly all the erotic scenes of "Bound to the Prince" while listening to "Mr Brightside" by The Killers. I don't know why myself, it's an uptempo song, not a ballad. Maybe it's simply the line "Now she's touching his chest, now he takes off her dress. I just can't watch, it's killing me," subtle but very effective, and it totally works to get me into "the mood."

For action/fighting scenes, I use Skillet's "Rebirthing", and for dramatic, romantic scenes "Always" by Bon Jovi, or "Dear Jessie" (Skillet). Mythic, mysterious scenes can only be properly written with Loreena McKennit's "Mummer's Dance" (I wrote the whole last chapter of BttP listening to it). Movie soundtracks are an awesome way to create feelings, too - especially when you've seen the film many times and know the music to scenes you felt passionate about.

Whatever triggers your emotions, use it! So kick your own ass, sit down and write. It doesn't have to be Pulitzer Prize material, you know. It's just for you. If you really write from the heart, your readers will be sure to love it because they'll feel that your words are true. You could say it's a telepathic connection, but it's so much more.

It's magic.