Today, before I post Episode Two of Closer to God, I’d like to address something I stuggle with often. Writer’s block. Most recently, I am experiencing a troubling case of writer’s block with Kaleidoscope. It was a story I started in school and after rewriting and posting Part One I am at loss. I revisit the story everyday, yet, I seem to be making no progress on it. I’m sure alot of people can relate to how truely frustrating this can be.
Earlier today, in an effort to find the inspiration to overcome my creative rut, I picked up On Writing by Stephen King. Not only is On Writing a a fantastic book about King’s journey as a writer but it also contains a ton of great tips and ideas about writing and writer’s block. Most of the points I’m going to talk about in this post are detailed in this awesome video posted on Youtube by Brain Johnson (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgpimiD2ACs).
While the video outlines five points from On Writing (spikes, man-muse, prime directive, jumper cables, and joy-money), I’m only going over three of them. These will be man-muse, jumper cables, and joy-money.
The first point I want to talk about is called the man-muse. As King describes him, the muse is a man who lives in the basement of your mind and who holds magic dust that has the ability to make your work great. However, to get the muse to sprinkle said dust over your writing you need to take care of him. You need to make sure the basement is warm, his bowling trophies are dusted, and that he is comfortable. Only then will the man-muse grace you with some of his magic dust. The way this translates to writing and writer’s block, at least for me, is that you need to do the work to get the product you desire. If you don’t sit down and write then you will never be able to move past the challenges in your way. You have to trust that if you show up, day in and day out, the man-muse will show too, eventually.
Second comes the jumper cables. In his book, King explains how he struggled with balancing working a full time teaching job and writing. He states that after work his brain felt like it was attached to jumper cables making it extremely difficult for him to settle into a creative mind set. With all the distractions we live with on a daily basis, I think this idea is applicable now more than ever. You need to calm down your brain and shut out distractions if you plan on getting any creative work done. Forget about work, forget about the problems you face, and just write. Lose yourself in the world and characters you are creating. King also mentions that we have to avoid self imposed jumper cables as well. Shut the door, log off the email, turn off the phone, and give all of your attention to your work. At times, like the one I’m in now, this is easier said then done. Especially when you have writer’s block. But that is when it is most important to rip the jumper cables off your brain and just write.
Lastly I want to touch on the idea of joy-money. King says one of the most popular questions he is asked is, “Did you do it for the money?” To me, this question seems a bit ridiculous considering all the work you have to put into writing to even reach the level where you can sell a story but I can also see why people ask it. And it is an important question. At least, King’s answer is important. That answer is no, he did, and does it, because he loves it. He worked extremely hard to improve his craft because he loved what he was doing and it brought him immense joy. For King, the money was simply a byproduct. I think this may be the most important part of King’s book. If you are writing to make money you will most likely never be successful. Not because you’re writing is bad, not because it is very hard to make money writing, but because there are other, much easier, ways to make money. Eventually, if you’re only writing to try and make a couple bucks, you will lose the motivation to write. Besides, lets be honest, if you’re writing solely for money you’re porbably not improving your skills all that much. You need to love writing. You need to able to put in the hard hours and deal with the writer’s block because you see no other way to do it. You want to get better and you want to complete your work because you love doing it.
So, in any effort to overcome writer’s block remember these things: put in the work and trust that your muse will help you out, take the jumper cables off and focus, and remember that you’re doing this because you love it.
I hope this helps anyone looking to get over their writers block and if not, pick up On Writing by Stephen King. I’m sure we can all agree he makes these points better than I do. Also, don’t forget to check out the video I linked above to see a complete description of all five ideas from On Writing. Revisiting these tips has certainly helped me and Kaleidoscope: Part Two is underway.
Now, I’ve been having no problem with Closer to God so expect Episode Two to be posted later this evening. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for hanging in there and, as a very thoughtful person commented on my introduction post, good luck with all your writing endeavors!