Stephen King says that you should write every day. Write 2000 words, and don’t stop until you hit your goal, whether you want to or not.
Neil Gaiman said something like that, too – something to the effect of writing even when you don’t want to – writing when it’s hard, and when you re-read what you’ve written and declare it all bullshit, that’s okay, too, because it’s all part of the process. And sometimes – just sometimes – you will find that what you’ve written is actually good.
If we all only wrote when we were inspired, why, I don’t think anyone would get a lot of writing done. Not when there are Netflix marathons to binge on, books to read, and friends to drink, eat and dance with. There are so many distractions.
Me, I’m a binge writer. I’m constantly working on projects, with lots of things on the stove at once, but when I’m in the midst of something, I will write and write and write and not stop. I put the novella, Jessica, together over a three day weekend of writing and drinking. I’ve been known to write as much as seven to ten-thousand words on a day when I’m especially on fire, and just can’t put my computer down.
But that doesn’t mean that I never get stuck. When I get stuck in writing – whether it is due to a plot point, or else I’m at Point A and I need to get to Point B which is certainly four chapters down the road and ohmygod what am I going to do with my character between now and then? – I play the What If game.
It’s good to meet creative people, and make friends with other writers, off whom you can bounce ideas or with whom to brainstorm. My friend Hannah and I have a What If thing, where there are absolutely NO rules about what cannot happen. Characters can change, make out-of-character decisions, and even die. Over the course of a year, I wrote a novel online in serialized fashion, and when I began, I was honestly making it up as I went along – I had NO idea where exactly it was going, or certainly not an endgame in mind. In fact, I didn’t really get a sense of where it was headed until maybe a month or two in. So Hannah and I played a lot of the What if game during that time.
What if this character is lying? What if he’s just using this person? What would happen if character A died? How would that affect the life of character B? What if character B thought it was their fault, and spiralled into grief? What if it was all a nightmare? How would that change the dynamic of their relationship, finding out it never happened? What if this character misses their bus? Start thinking down that path, see where it takes you?
Not only is it a good brainstorming episode to get you thinking through possibilities, it might give you insight into how your characters might react in situations you wouldn’t have thought to put them in. And sometimes, as in my case, it might offer you amazing, unconsidered plot points. At some point during the writing of my novel CHUK, I had decided that what the story was really about was the redemption of a certain character – so in my mind, they could absolutely NOT DIE. But then at a certain point, as I began putting this person under a terrible amount of peril, I got asked the question – what if they die?
Even better – what if Character A killed them?
I got goosebumps, because what followed (and I’ll not spoil it in case you read it one day) was a plot twist that provided much needed tension to move the action forward, spiralling toward the epic conclusion.
So if you get stuck and don’t know what to write, don’t beat yourself up so much about writing some sort of final draft material. Brainstorm with a friend – take those characters you’ve breathed life into and ask yourself – what if they went to the movies? What if they lost a tooth? What if they found out they were terribly ill? How would your characters react? How would that affect your plot?
All writing is important to your work – even if it doesn’t make it into the final cut. So the next time you think you have writer’s block, try giving yourself permission to try something different – even be silly – write your character into ridiculous situations if you have to. Whatever it takes to get the juices flowing again.
Sometimes, he writes as the enigmatic Helena Hann-Basquiat, a self-proclaimed dilettante who dabbles in whatever she can get her hands into just to say that she has.
As Helena, he published Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume One, and this past April, released Memoirs of a Dilettante Volume Two, as well as the Shakespearean-style play, Penelope, Countess of Arcadia.
His pseudonym Helena has her own pseudonym, Jessica B. Bell, who not only writes strange, dark and twisted fiction, but is herself the subject of the meta-fictional novel JESSICA, and its upcoming sequel, SINGULARITY, written in collaboration with a host of talented writers.
VISCERA, a collection of strange tales, will be published by Sirens Call Publications later this year under the name Jessica B. Bell.
Find more of his writing at
http://www.helenahb.com or http://www.whoisjessica.com
Connect with him via Twitter@HHBasquiat , and keep up with his ever growing body of work at GOODREADS, or visit his AMAZON PAGE