The World According to Renee

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How to beat Writer’s Block

Writing pad with pen

You’re sitting in front of your notepad or screen, and the words just won’t come. You’ve hit a roadblock. Your characters are waiting to be told what they’re doing, but you just can’t find the inspiration. What now?

Here are my top tips for beating writer’s block and get those creative juices flowing again.

1. Write

Pick up your pen or keyboard, and write. Wait… isn’t that what you’re doing when you realised you’re not getting anywhere? Stay tuned for tip #2.

2. Look to your left

Or look to your right. Pick the first object you see and write the story about that cushion. For example, I have a red cushion to my left. I can write the story of this red cushion. My story will be, it was made by a young woman in China who was paid 3 cents an hour but her family will beat her if she does not work. The cushion was sold to a major department store, where it sat being held by thirty seven people before I paid $43 for it. Tomorrow I shall donate this cushion to an op shop, where it will be bought by a psychologist and fifty people a week will sit on, cuddle or cry into that cushion. Each of those fifty has their own stories to tell.

(I did not actually pay $43 for a cushion, and the tag says it was made in Australia.)

3. Writing prompts

Writing prompts are little sentences you can use to kickstart your writing. They are designed to introduce something happening within your story. At the very least, they serve as a distraction and at the most, they will kickstart a new subplot or character into your story.

Try these for starters.

* The phone rang.

* There was a knock at the door.

* They heard a loud noise outside.

* Water rushed from the kitchen.

* They heard music coming from outside.

These tips will initiate your brain to write. It doesn’t matter if you end up using what you’ve written, the exercise has just served to unlock something in your writing brain in order to write.

Here are some more examples.

* She suddenly saw a hole in her hem. (Did someone else wear her dress? Did she catch the hem while skirting out a window? Was it torn during a sexual assault? Is the dress hers?)

*Their attention was caught by someone’s shadow falling across them.

* A beautiful daydream came to life before their eyes.

* “Did you see/hear that?”

* a wayward puppy ran across their path.

* An invitation arrives in the mail.

I recommend writing a list of your own prompts, at least 10-20. When you’re feeling stuck, randomly pick one prompt and start writing. It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t have to add to the story, it will just get your mind and fingers into the rhythm of writing. The beauty of this is, you’re free to change, edit or delete as you see fit.

4. Take a break

I know, I know… I did say “write” as my top tip. However, if you’ve been writing for a while and you’re just feeling stuck, take a break and go outside for five minutes. Make a coffee, eat a biscuit, hang up some washing. Do something else so that your mind relaxes and you’ll find ideas will pop up. If you’re feeling sluggish, eat a piece of fruit or a couple of lollies (lollies contain glucose, which is a vital sugar your brain needs to function. Seriously).

So there you have it, folks. My top tips for breaking that writer’s block.

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October 4, 2018 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections, Writing Journey | , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s Not Enough

I’ve just found my new favourite book: Story by Robert McKee. I’d like to say I came across this gem while poring over wares in a secondhand book store, with the powdery, sweet smell of old pages caressing my nostrils as I search for literary perfection. Truth is, I bought it from eBay as textbook for my unit next semester. 

I’ve never been so excited to read a textbook. Since Monday, the book has been teasing me, willing me to open it and absorb wisdom. This morning, I relented. I sat in the winter sunshine with a highlighter and let my brain absorb the awe. 

I’ve said many times that you don’t need to be a great writer to be a successful one. Judging by the shit movies that Hollywood churns out year after year, you don’t even have to have an original story. This book argues that the only thing you need is creativity. You don’t have to be a good speller (I disagree), but you do need a story. Not just an observational journey, but a deep understanding or questioning of Truth. That Truth can be anywhere: slice-of-life, fantasy, anthropomorphic animals… This Truth is what drives humans and enriches lives, both of the characters and the audience. 

I’ve discovered I’ve made a novice mistake: relying solely on experience the work of others who inspire me. Instead, I should be learning my craft (which, incidentally, is why I disagree that a good writer can be a bad speller. You can’t be a good builder if you can’t use a hammer). 

This is probably the first of many posts in which lightbulbs flash over my head as I learn to set creativity free instead of keeping it rigid and locked in a cage along with everything I have ever read. 

August 22, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

I want to be a writer

This post was inspired by my friend Devin’s blog. She outlines specific moments in her life leading to the moment she knew she was a writer.

The question every kid gets is, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My answer depended on how I was feeling that day. Truthfully though, I had no idea. I knew I liked writing and I worked on trying to get better. In the fifth grade, if we finished our work early, we could use the extra time to write a story which would be hung on the back wall for everyone to read. I only had a couple of stories there; I always took too long in finishing my work.

In high school, we had a writer in residence but I’d been sick the day of registration so I missed the opportunity to bask in his wisdom (as it happens, I can’t even remember who it was!) During this time, we got our very first home computer (complete with a whopping 25mb of RAM!). My sister and I had a writing challenge: we’d give each other the first sentence and you’d have to write as much as you can in 15 minutes. Some of those stories were priceless, but are now sadly lost to the mists of time.

As an adult, I told people I wanted to be a writer. I had various stories and ideas saved to the computer but was too shy to let anyone read them.

Then it happened: One day, I was at a seminar and met a copywriter. I’d been doing this for years in various jobs with no idea it was a job of its own! I signed up, did the course and started writing my little heart out. Herein lies the biggest secret: In the course, the first piece of advice was to tell people you’re a copywriter because you never know where it will lead and it’s often your immediate friends and family who give you your first jobs. Whereas I’d always thought “I want to be a writer”, I’d forgotten that I already was. Now, when people say to me “I want to be a writer”, I ask, “How will you know when you are one?” Often, their answer is, “When I’m published”. My reply: “Don’t you need to write something in order to be published? So yes, you’re already a writer!”

Being a published author is a journey, being a writer isn’t. I know people who are great storytellers but not good writers, and I know of successful writers who are rubbish storytellers.

 

July 23, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment