Whoever said writing children’s books is easy never actually tried to write one.
Sometimes I will sit in front of my computer, staring at the blank screen and wondering if I will ever form a coherent thought again. Experts call it writer’s block. I call it being stranded in a wordless desert where hundreds of negative thoughts swirl around me and finding my next drink is a thousand times easier than that first sentence.
This feeling of emptiness…for I have no better way to describe it…doesn’t happen often but enough for me to really appreciate those sweet words when they do return. There is such a rush of emotion when I am working on a story…watching the ebb and flow of characters interacting with each other and the world around them. Allowing my main character to almost reach their goal before I throw another monkey wrench into the mix. Then being just as surprised as my protagonist when the last page turns and there is a happy ending waiting for us both.
But if I’ve learned anything from a successful writing time it’s the fact those empty word roadblocks WILL indeed happen so I need to be ready for them. I may not be able to stop them from occurring but hopefully I can use some of the following tips to lessen the time I spend in that wordless desert…
TIPS TO OVERCOME WRITER’S BLOCK:
1. WRITE SOMETHING…ANYTHING DOWN. Write Mary Had a Little Lamb or the Lord’s Prayer. WHAT you write down right now isn’t as important as the fact you are breaking through the sterile curtain holding you back from adding more words to screen or paper.
2. READ OVER THE LAST THING YOU WROTE. I’m also in the middle of writing several different stories in multiple genres. To avoid drawing a blank the next time I work on one of my stories, I always go back and read the last chapter. It helps set the tone and draws me back into the world I’m creating so I can more easily follow the story moving forward.
3. READ SOMETHING SIMILAR. If I’ve started a new picture book and run into a brick wall, I start reading similar stories to see how other authors have handled their protagonist’s problems. I don’t want to mimic their work but enjoying the works of others will help fuel my own imagination.
4. VISIT THE INTERNET. You’ve heard me right. Now I don’t mean hang out for hours playing Candy Crush or watching YouTube videos. But setting a kitchen timer for 30 minutes to connect with other writer friends and family allows you a chance to realize you’re not all alone on this journey. Others have choked on the dust of a wordless desert and sometimes it helps to know that.
5. TAKE A BREAK. Take a walk. Work in the garden. Phone a friend. Do a crossword puzzle. Take a nap. Just like Paul Simon’s song “Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover”, there are at least that many ways to shake things up and get those words flowing again.
I don’t claim to know all the answers when it comes to writing but I do know I’m a pretty good listener. I listen to those smarter than me and I follow the writerly wisdom of others who have been on this journey longer than I have. And the next time I find myself drifting into a wordless desert, I’ll be sure to take along some cooling ice tea…
International best selling, award-winning author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in TaeKwonDo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna is a BOOK NOOK REVIEWS host providing the latest book reviews on all genres of children’s books, and the host of WRITERLY WISDOM, a resource series for writers. Donna is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Children’s Book Insider. She is a lover of dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection. Donna’s latest book, LUNADAR: Homeward Bound (a YA fantasy), is now available in eBook and print form from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, and other online retailers.