Strangest request ever (so far). A friend called me and asked if I could help an author friend of hers. This author lady hit writer’s block and hopes I can help her through that. Oy. I thought up a few things and sent them to her. She said they actually seem to work!
I’m going to list here what I advised her to do. This is not a prescription that will work for anyone, it is just something I thought of.
What I told her to do:
– write down a number of key words on the subject you are trying to write about. Write a word on a separate line and add some white space between the lines. No need to have the words make sense, random is fine.
– beneath that, write down a number of key words that are entirely unrelated to the piece you are trying to write about. Add the same amount of white space between those words. Again, random is fine, and don’t think about them.
– next thing to do is to just write down a few lines about how you feel about the piece you’re writing, even if it is not finished yet. Is it fun to write about? Does it fascinate you? Do you hate it? Curse all you want if you need, these lines are just for you. Loosen up your emotions.
Now you go back to the key words. Pick one and write a short sentence that relates to the word. It is not important if it is a word that connects to the piece or not, just write something. Even if it is a nonsense sentence.
Wait a few minutes. Do something entirely different than writing. Then come back and tackle another word. Now take one from the other category (the non-related if you did a related word or vice versa). Write a sentence with / about that. Then you return to the sentence you wrote before this one. Is it a good one? Stupid? If you see something you can improve, change that in this sentence.
Repeat this exercise with each word. Leave it for a bit, tackle the next word, and look at the previous sentence (just go back one word, not all of them). Again, it does not matter what you write, just that you write. If you think that a sentence is okay, leave that and take on another word, another sentence. Once you handled all the words and sentences, try and add a new sentence to each block/word, in the same way.
It is important to keep yourself going with this. Also note that this is meant to be a fun exercise. Be silly if you want, and only slowly change things towards what you are trying to achieve. There should not be any pressure. Pressure will lock you down again and make this exercise a complete waste of time.
When you are able to make all these sentences, and at a certain point you wipe all of them together, you already have a lot of material to work from. To expand. To write your book from.
When you hit a brick wall with these words, think up some more key words. Try to find them from different perspectives, like a person inside the story (if it is a story), or a narrator, an observer, the protagonist, or the antagonist. If you write something non-fiction, try to find ways into it with other words, from other viewpoints, from old and young people, from interested ones and from those who don’t care. And do not forget to also write the nonsense words, because they are important. They are meant to distract your mind. They force you to look at things in another way.
Let me add that this all happened several weeks ago. And yesterday I received an e-mail from her that she finished the book and did so well within the deadline.