A tweet came across my screen with a quote from Stephen King: “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us get up and go to work.” This is from his book, On Writing. I read the book cover to cover one time, but it wasn’t until I saw this tweeted out recently that it hit me in the gut. Its impact missed me on the first read-through. I retweeted the quote and asked if this were true because I felt guilty of waiting for inspiration. A gentleman replied basically stating that sometimes you just have to start writing to get the ball rolling. So I put this into practice and the result was fantastic.
“Just start writing” could mean different things to different people. For one, it could mean write a journal entry, while for another it could mean “just get through the scene and don’t worry about perfection”. I took it as an opportunity to free write – a stream-of-consciousness form of writing where you just keep going non-stop. I opened a new document and started typing whatever was on my mind. Now, I have done this before with little success and that may have been why I stopped. I see now that the more you do it, the better able you are to get over your self-criticism.
I had an idea for a science fiction story and didn’t know where to start. Every time I thought about it, something just seemed corny, overdone, or too complex. However, through this exercise I was able to get the first page done. Now I am currently writing the first draft of what could be flash fiction, a short story, or possibly longer. Here’s a taste of what I have so far:
I saw the barrel of the gun in between my eyes flash. The sound was loud, but quick. No echo. Everything shifted to black like a light switch was flipped.
I got all that from writing about how I doubted freewriting would help. I was wrong. If you’re stuck at the beginning of a story idea like I was, free write it out. And if you’re in the middle of a story and hit a wall, shut down that critical voice in your head and just keep punching away at your keyboard. It may take some time to get past it, but you’ve got to keep moving.
What are some techniques you use to get past writer’s block? Show yourself and engage in the comments below!