Ambience: Not just for your characters

It’s no secret I struggle with writer’s block. They’ve actually done studies on this which I find interesting. Turns out we’re overcome with fear. The fear of not being perfect. The fear of not finishing. Wow. Was I a lab rat in their study? That paralyzing fear overwhelms me when I sit down to the blank page.

Finding the right words is always a challenge and it keeps my fingers away from the keyboard. I don’t know why I expect things to be perfect the first time. That’s why we edit and why we have beta readers and critique partners. They help us make the writing stronger. So why do I expect perfection in the first draft?

There are plenty of strategies for overcoming writer’s block. I use stream of consciousness writing quite often. I close my eyes and with no direction in mind, just write. It usually has to do with some part of the backstory for my character. There’s no dialogue to worry about. It’s all narrative and sometimes the “telling” of something is easier to write. I’m not trying to balance the action with the narrative. The other “writing” activity I use when struggling is called piecemeal. I write some scene that is particularly clear for me, one that may not mesh with my current timeline but will be used later on.

But when that perfection peskiness won’t leave me I skip over it as best I can. When the right word won’t come to me, I settle for something close. So I know that this isn’t quite right, I’ll put it all in caps or mark it with a comment so that when I do go back and edit I know to pay attention to it.

Years ago a writer I really admired talked about writer’s block and how she dealt with it. For her, setting the scene was key. Not the scene in her book but the scene in her office-slash-writing area. She created a certain ambiance that would tell her brain “it’s writing time!” I tried it and it really worked. When I sat down in my chair, with my candles and music going, my brain kicked into creative mode. It’s even something I can carry with me when I’m traveling to a certain degree. The library doesn’t like candle, just so you know, but I can have my special music going and it helps block out sounds and distractions.

What tricks do you use to push past the writer’s block?



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