Hello and welcome to The YA Bookcase!
This is a place for writers and readers to hang out alike and discuss the many vagaries of the literary world. From YA book reviews, tips on writing, and interviews with industry professionals (hopefully upcoming in the future!) to guest posts and interesting articles, The YA Bookcase is a growing blog that hopes to evolve and change alongside this fabulous (and sometimes mystifying) industry.
I’m going to kick off my first blog post with a topic that many writers face – WRITER’S BLOCK. However, what is this condition and, more importantly, how do we solve it?
Writer’s block is simply what it says on the tin – a writer who is blocked from writing. But although the concept is simple, the solution isn’t always quite as clear cut, as there are many types of blocks. The following list details the most common ones, however feel free to add your own in the comments section!
Sounds silly, doesn’t it? How can a writer be a writer without ideas. But here’s the rub – lots of writers don’t start off with a storyline, theme or solid concept. Many writers begin with just the smallest glimpse of an intriguing character, a turn of phrase that makes them stop and think or simply get swept off their feet by seeing a stunning or an unusual piece of behavior.
If this sounds like you, then don’t panic; there is a solution.
Solution – Whatever you have, whether it’s just a collection of images or a few phrases you like, write them down. There is nothing more intimidating than a blank page. Next, don’t worry about WHERE the story will go. Just ask questions. Why is this character the way they are? What feeling does that turn of phrase make you feel? Keep asking questions and don’t look for an immediate pay off. The more you look for it, the harder it will be to find. The more you keep digging, the closer you’ll get to striking gold and revealing the story that’s bursting to get out. Remember, the story is already there – you just need to have a little bit of faith and the stamina to keep digging to find it.
Fear is one of the biggest creative blocks around. Putting your work out there for everyone to poke, prod and stare at is a knee-knocking experience. Don’t worry, you’re not alone!
Solution – Forget about the audience. Forget about the critics. Write something just for you. Promise yourself that it is for your eyes only. This will get your creative juices flowing. Once they are, jump back into the project you were stalled on and you’ll find it much easier to get going again.
Unweildy characaters that won’t do what you want can make your story stop dead. When they want to go one way and you want them to go another, it can easily make your story grind down into a gridlock.
Solution – Interview your character on the page. Find out why they are the way they are, what they want, what their fears are. The more you understand your character, the more you can keep true to THEIR story. And remember, the story you start might not be the story you finish. And that’s okay. When your characters become so real you can’t help but follow their voice, then that’s when you’ve hit gold.
THE EVIL EDITOR
Edit, edit, edit. Some people can’t help but tinker with what they’ve just written. I should know. I’m one of them.
Solution – The biggest kept secret about the evil editor inside of you? It’s okay. Every writer has their own process. If you’re a habitual editor like me, strike a deal with yourself: everytime you write 500 words, you get to edit whatever you want. You’d be amazed at how quickly your word count ratchets up.
We all get them. None of us want them. They can leave us crippled, gasping for breath, and wondering if we’re ever going to get out of the slush pile and make it as a real, bonafide writer.
Solution – The truth is, rejections are actually angels in disguise for writers. They help us learn how to hone our craft, they teach us the value of writing great copy to help market and sell our work, and the let us know, early on, that publishing is a highly subjective business that needs a tough skin and a whole lot of tissues. If you can understand that rejections don’t define your work, they merely help you refine it, then the fear will go and it will open you up to a whole new world of creative possibilities.
Lastly, after such an epic first blog post, if you’re really stuck and you don’t know why, try to experiment with your writing. Write something completely left field. Something kooky and whacky and cool. Something that might not make any sense. Just grab a crayon and colour right outside the lines. You never know what might turn up…