This morning I am seated at a wicker table watching an angry Atlantic Ocean bring unusually heavy waves into the South Carolina shoreline. We had torrential downpours all day yesterday and I am grateful, as I sit in a condo in North Myrtle Beach, to see the day begin with rays of sun. It’s just after sunrise and I am the only one of the 6 beings in this unit stirring. Not an unusual situation, in that I usually beat both the sun and people up in the morning.
As I enjoy the sounds of the surf and watch the white runs of breaking waves, I find that I am pondering the vagaries of life as a writer and writing coach.
Yes, I am a writer. And like all writers, I face times where the words don’t come, or more accurately, the exact words I want or expect don’t come. I am also a writing coach and one of my joys is helping writers find their voice and tell their story. That happens one word at a time, of course. I am often asked what to do when the words simply get stuck somewhere between thought and paper.
In truth, the words always come, even if it does not seem so to a blocked writer. Is there a trick? A magic pill to break through writer’s block? Yes and no. The secret is so simple that writers often don’t believe it can work. It’s a matter of following an easy writing process and turning it into a habit. Writers who follow this process are never blocked.
I’m here in Myrtle for a dance event, part of a migration of Carolina Shag dancers that happens twice a year. Writing is a lot like dancing. A good start leads to a great dance. And a good start always begins with the dancers assuming the ready position: body slightly forward, weight slightly forward as well, resting primarily on the ball of one foot, the other foot weightless and ready to move at the first inkling of a musical beat. When we start a dance flat footed with weight back on our heels, we start a beat or two behind every time and sometimes never get into the groove.
What’s the secret to avoiding writer’s block? Assume the ready position and write.
Be in that same mode of anticipation that a dancer experiences. The ready position for writing is mental rather than physical, yet still requires balance and even distribution of the mental weight of intention. Whether using pen and paper or a keyboard or the touch of a tablet screen, lean forward into writing with an open and ready mind.
Having an idea of the writing topic is helpful, but not necessary. Knowing what experience comes next in the plotline for the characters does make it easier to get going at the start of a writing session, but it’s not necessary. Having an outline to follow with chapters laid out and bullet points defined can clearly be a useful tool when writing, but none of this is necessary.
Start writing. And keep writing. Do not go back and rewrite. Do not be concerned with the order of the story; organization comes during editing. Capture side thoughts in a side note using word processor’s comment tool or pencil notes on paper. Do not stop and do not look back. Charge your creative juices by listening to the music of the words and write.
Move forward into the dance of creativity. At some point, not long into this writing process, magic happens. Words catch up with intent. Everything comes together to create a solid performance whether in writing or dance.
Looking for a writing partner?
A critique partner?
Someone with whom you can bounce story ideas back and forth?
Connect with other writers looking for the same kind of support as you. Look for - and find - the kind of writing partner you want and need!
Writing is a solitary activity yet both creativity and organization benefit when writers collaborate, brainstorm, and in general hold each other accountable to shared goals.
This group is dedicated to providing a safe environment for writers to match their goals, writing styles, and support needs to one (or maybe two) matched partners.
To learn more and to join the group, follow this link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/theWriterExchange/
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