Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Writing for Fun and Practice

A student writes,

Dear Nardvark,
I'm writing for fun and practice, like you suggested, but I'm halfway through a story and can't figure out what to write next.  Where is this going?  What is my character going to do?  I think I've got writer's block!
Your fan,
Stuck McTruck

Nardvark, always the first one to help a fan in need, promptly held the letter up to the mirror so Nerdvark could deal with it.  Here is Nerdvark's advice:

Stuck, eh?  Not to worry.  This happens to all writers.  The worst thing is when you're trying to write a an exam and get stuck.  Good thing you're practising now!

There are a few different methods you can use to finish/continue a story.  For me, I imagine it as a film while I'm doing something that doesn't require any thinking, like in the shower, eating, or doing laundry.  Usually it just plays out in my head.  



Nerdvark emerges from the shower with a brain full of great ideas for his story.


Obviously you can't do this while in an exam, but if you are stuck in the middle of a homework assignment, or you are writing for fun and practice (great idea!), it can help.


Other writers have a lot of methods: 



  • Brainstorm everything you can think of, even if it seems silly, then use process of elimination to choose the best idea(s); 
  • Like Dory said, "Just keep swimming," only for us writers, it's just keep writing -- often what comes out is really good, or ideas come to you as you go; 
  • Read other works for inspiration (not just stories, but news stories, other people's blogs, comments on Youtube, etc); 
  • Plan!!! -- a story should have a conflict and a resolution; it should have an inciting incident, rising action, a climax, and falling action; it should have at least one character who changes (a dynamic character) -- this is called a "character arc".  If you sit down one afternoon and plan all this stuff out, you will be able to continue / finish your story.  
  • Combining showers and planning, if you keep a notebook handy, you can always write your ideas down as  you have them.  Nerdvark recommends a waterproof notebook.  Then you will have access to all your great ideas when you start to plan your next story.
  • Nerdvark once read Stephen King's book "On Writing," which is an amazing, awesome, other-adjectives-beginning-with-"a" book that really helped Nerdvark get serious about writing.  Stephen King's best advice (in Nerdvark's opinion) is to write every day.  If you don't like what you've written, you can always throw it away.  But usually when you go back and look at it, it's not so bad, or at least you can develop/use some of your ideas.
  • On Writing - A Memoir of the Craft



So you see, McTruck, unlike a real truck, which has no choice but to pay for a costly tow, you have a lot of methods to help you get out of that sticky writing situation and on with the story!