Tuesday, July 04, 2006

There's No Such Thing as Writer's Block

Donna Conger, author of Forgotten, had this to say about “Fiction Outlines,” my previous blog article:

“Frank,Great blog. Good information. For me, an outline is extremely necessary, because it helps me keep the story organized. It shows me where I’m repeating myself, where the story is contrived, etc. Often, when I’m writing an outline, I get so deep into the story and characterization that I start writing actual dialogue and mixing it with the chapter synopsis. When that happens, I get a much stronger handle on the whole project. I remember the story better, so that when I don’t get the chance to work on it, it’s still with me quite strongly.”

For those who outline in depth, Donna’s method must be a wonderful tool. Such a detailed outline would mesh well with the subconscious mind for creative inspiration. Because of a mental handicap that cripples my short-term memory, I’m stuck with re-reading pages of notes plus my chapter-in-progress in order to “tune-back-in”. My own inspiration only comes either in light-bulbs throughout the day (that I scribble down and transfer into my three-ring-binder), or, more productively, as my left-brain is running SO full throttle that I can’t type fast enough to capture all my thoughts.

Reflecting upon Donna’s technique brought back a conversation that my father (who was also a writer), and I had years ago. He’d been experiencing a period of writer’s block. As he lamented about his problem, it occurred to me that because I’m so used to troubleshooting ways around my mental condition, I’d been manhandling writer’s block for well over a year!

This was my e-mail reply to Donna:
“I’ve experienced that detailed kind of hyper-outlining before, but this topic leads into my definition of writer’s block. I don’t believe in it. Creative writing is left brain stuff. If I find myself sliding into creativity, I open my WIP and go-to-it. When word-count refuses to turn a phrase, that means my right brain is switched “on”. That’s when I work on my marketing plan or pull out my writer’s notebook and organize thoughts.”

A writer’s best quantitative standard of productivity is word-count; we set goals and we record daily figures. Then we get so focused on this single unit of measurement that we forget about less quantitative aspects of the craft. Those one or two thousand words are our eight-days-a-week mandatory discipline; but what about e-mail, research and critiquing? I once read that there are other spheres of life beyond writing: like enjoying family, community, worship and creation around us. It’s so easy to get caught-up. Balance your spheres, and engage yourself in His moment’s gift.

"We who escape into our craft are not unlike junkies; once we admit our problem we can balance our lives. Once we balance our live’s spheres, we’re living as He’d intended."
–Frank Creed

CREDITS:Thanks to my guest quotationist:

Donna Conger
I urge anyone who questions whether or not true love exists to read Forgotten. You will know it is alive and well.
–Janet Elaine Smithhttp://janet_elaine_smith0.tripod.com/

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