The Amaryllis on my windowsill is in splendid, flamboyant bloom at the moment. Pity I can’t say the same about my writing. I’ve never believed in writer’s block, so the last few months have been difficult: I’ve come up against an immovable obstacle that I’ve been unable to push through. I’ve hit the wall.
I make notes, use diversionary tactics and bring out all the tried and tested solutions but I still find myself, against my own advice, messing around in the foothills, constantly editing and re-editing the first few chapters. It’s all procrastination. I should be pushing forward, not marching on the spot. Continue reading
This week I’ve been lucky enough to witness a small miracle – baby house sparrows, a species much in decline in the UK, hatching in the rosemary bush under my kitchen window. Very interesting, but what does this have to do with writing, you may ask. Absolutely nothing, but I took some photographs and added the experience to my ever-expanding list of distracting time fillers, seized upon so that I can further avoid the inevitable – facing that frightening blank page.
I decided to write them all down, the little non-essential deviations and digressions, to see how much time I was wasting when I should be labouring at the keyboard.
It’s not often that I’m at a loss for words but sometimes my imagination goes temporarily awol when I’m supposed to be creating a coherent piece of writing. Staring at that blank page can be daunting so I thought it might be handy if we revisited some tricks for waking your writing mojo.
Remember those six honest serving-men from Kipling’s Elephant’s Child: What? Where? Why? Who? When? How? They help us evaluate every situation and character and once we’ve got past the seemingly obvious questions about who the character is, what they are doing and how they come to be doing it, we can widen our scope and pose other questions that reveal different facets and characteristics and help us build up a character, a situation, maybe a story.
You may have guessed that progress with my second novel is rather slow at the moment – hence all these displacement activities. I could write a book about writer’s block – 100 ways to beat the block. But would it be just another diversionary tactic? Watch this space.
Other things that are intruding on my time include trying to build up a supply of 400 word stories for the parish magazine and longer ones to read on the radio. If I can do that I’ll be free to concentrate on the novel for a while.
Writer’s block? Or just having a blank moment? Bring out the Five Ws and One H.
Say what?? Rudyard Kipling immortalised the concept in the opening of ‘The Elephant’s Child’, a poem that accompanied one of his Just So Stories, written in 1902:
I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
Used widely in journalism, interrogative pronouns are basic tools for gathering information. Continue reading