I’ve learned the hard way that when someone tells you that they have writer’s block, the most unhelpful way to respond is:
a) Oh, I’ve never had that.
b) It’s just in your head.
c) There’s no such thing as…
It’s like when your significant other tells you that she has PMS and you respond with any of the above or “It’ll pass,” or “Oh honey, I know how you feel.”
So here are a few suggestions for fantasy writers who are suffering from writer’s block. I am sure they can be applied to other genres with a bit of adaptation.
1) Watch your favorite scene from Lord of the Rings (I would list mine, but you would need the extended version of this blog) or most preferred epic fantasy novel. Not that I want to advocate for movies above books – until such time as Wycaan Masters gets optioned (you can contact me via this blog, Mr. Jackson) – but there is something very vivid and inspiring watching a scene.
2) Archery – it works for me. Noching (yes that is how it is spelt) the arrow, drawing the bow-string, watching the arrow (hopefully) fly to the target – awesome. You can just feel a scene coming on.
Disclaimer: Please shoot responsibly and refrain when the muse takes you.
3) Drive/hike to a vista or beautiful natural landmark. When my family are on the road and see a mountain range, a beautiful river, or wisps of fog hugging the treetops, one of us says: Alaegasia – a tribute to Christopher Paolini’s (Eragon) impressive scene descriptions.
4) Imagine winning the Fantasy Novel Oscar – prepare and rehearse your acceptance speech. It kinda works and you never know when you might need it!. I have done this on the exercise bike and in the bathroom. The acoustics are better from the bathtub when accompanied by a glass of wine.
Caution: should not be practiced out loud with anyone else present – your family and friends already think you are weird, an adult caring about elves and dwarves.
5) Go to library or bookstore and look at the book covers. This can be done on-line when your library has closed due to spending cuts or there is no bookstore still open near you, but there is something powerful holding a book and looking at the cover. I suspect being around shelves of great authors can be either a great kick up the pants or depressing – all these accomplished authors. But if it works for you…
6) Ride a horse (or pretend to on a bike). Hold the saddle horn as you twist round to see if you are being followed. Pat the horse, feel the reins and the rhythm of a horse galloping…you get the idea.
Caution: While effective on a stationary exercise bike, I recommend you do not try this at the gym – people might think you have a spider down your shirt or having a fit.
7) Look at your bank account and imagine what you would do with that advance. Perhaps stand in front of a mirror and practice saying: “Yes. I write fantasy full-time.”
But when your significant other tells you that she is premenstrual, a hug, hot chocolate, and you making and clearing up dinner is probably a better route. The writing can wait – anyway you have Writer’s Block.
Alon Shalev is the author of At The Walls of Galbrieth, Wycaan Master Book 1 and The First Decree, both released by Tourmaline Books. Shalev is also the author of three social justice-themed novels including Unwanted Heroes. He swears there is a connection. More on Alon Shalev at http://www.alonshalev.com and on Twitter (@elfwriter).