This blog posting is a bit of an experiment to prove something that I have said a few times in the past to my mentees and in this blog, that all writing problems can be solved by simply — and possibly ironically — by writing.
When I sat down to write a blog post, I didn’t have an idea about what I was going to write. That, in my book, qualifies as a writing problem. The most basic and common type from what I hear. Writer’s block of a sort.
And since my philosophy has been that any writing problem can be solved through writing, I simply began writing. And voila, it was solved.
You see, writer’s block is not a matter of having nothing to write but of failing to decide between too many ideas or lacking faith in the idea we have. But we’re remarkable and you only need to trust that anything you do will also be remarkable. You only need to do and the results will prove you correct.
The same is true with story-specific problems. Don’t know which direction a character should speak? Can’t decide on her motivations? Wondering if a logic problem should be solve this way or that? The cure is the same — simply sit down and write.
Of course this sort of writing is mostly going to be throw-away or utility. What I do nine times out of ten is write like I’m talking out loud to a table of other me’s — who are always well-behaved, wonderful listeners.
“If I keep the carnival aspects, I really need to ramp them up because the theme of this anthology is carnivals and I don’t want to risk coming off like I already had a forgotten story lying around and I just added a couple carnival elements to make it fit their requirements.”
Then I add the OR. That’s when the other me at the imaginary table stands up and offers his/my counter-point.
“OR I could remove all aspects of carnival, turning the story in another direction. Of course, that would mean forgetting the anthology I had in mind. But that should be fine because this is a good story and I shouldn’t have a hard time finding a quality outlet for it.”
Then comes the SO
“SO if carnival is out, how do I apply my critique mates’ comments?”
You get the picture. What I create ends up taking on a programmatic flowchart feel. Lots of IFs and ORs and ANDs, etc. but I ALWAYS arrive at a best solution.
The above example is global in relation to a story I have been working on for a while, but the same strategy works for even the small problems I alluded to before. Talk about the pros and cons of two different types of shoes or if someone should shut up and leave a scene or deliver one more line before parting. Even if you’re stuck on What to write, I’m sure you have a couple of ideas. Write the debate out — why one is better or worse then the other.
There should be no anxiety about writing in order to find solutions to your writing problems. But if you do find yourself unsure of how to start, I suggest starting with a line like, “I can’t begin to understand why I’m nervous about solving my writing problems, but I suspect the cat has something to do with it… or my mother… or those green guys I saw last night.”