Monday, November 7, 2011

Writer's Block? Ride a Bike!

At my region's NaNoWriMo Kick-Off Party, a fellow writer shared some very inspirational words.  Today I want to take the chance to share those thoughts with you (of course, paraphrased and tweaked since I failed to record everything he said.)  Thank you Grand Poobah for this inspiration!

Raise your hand if you experience Writer's Block.
Come on, raise it high.

There may be many reasons for Writer's Block.  But one of the leading factors that stop your fingers mid-word and halt story production is simply not knowing your characters.  Yes, you created them.  Of course you know them.  But how well?  

With NaNoWriMo in full bloom, we are all approaching our own personal bouts of the Block.  So what can you do?  Bash your head on the desk?  Mourn the loss of a potential New York Times Best-seller and move on to some minor plot you could care less for?  Stare blankly?

How about this:
Teach your character to ride a bike.

Such a simple thing.  We all know how to do it.  (Well, most.  I didn't personally learn how to until I was twelve.  But we don't need to get into that story at this time.)

You have been stopped with your story, blocked on what to say next.  Could it be that your character has gone silent... because you simply do not know them?  Pull your character out, plop them on a bike, and tell them to ride.

Want more?  Don an elephant suit and
 put them on a unicycle.  Oh my...
Consider this:
  • Is this their first time riding?  Did they learn once but it has been years?  Are they a pro?
  • If they fall, how would they react?  Anger?  Enough tears to fill the ocean?  Belly rolling laughter?
  • Would your character insist on trying until they succeeded?  Would they give up and vow to never ride again?
  • How long would it take?
  • What happens?

As you set your character on this bike and tell them to ride, you will be given the chance to explore who this character truly is.  You will learn their quirks, their buttons, their inner fears and jokes.  Let your character take over, and watch as they pedal you into their mind.

Let your character write.
(And don't forget to count the words!)

Then, when the bike trip is over, go back to your story.  Remember everything the bike ride just taught you, and who knows what words will come.  The story is nothing if the author doesn't know the setting, the general plot, and most of all: the characters.

So when you are hitting that wall and have no where to go...
Teach your character to ride a bike.

Happy Writing!


Trisha said...

I think with NaNo especially it's easy to not know your characters well. Unless you're one of those who planned everything out really carefully before November 1st.

I don't have writer's block right now, but I do sometimes find myself wondering if I'm getting off track. I do have a rough outline so I keep referring back to that.

Sonia said...

Cool idea! I've opted out of doing nano this year as it just stresses me out and I've learned "slow and steady" is my tried and true method.

Good luck!


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