Some time in the last couple of years, even as I struggled to maintain a writing habit (and for a while, failed completely), I have realize something that I didn’t know in my first 10 years of writing–at least not consciously: the joy of discovery is my absolute favorite thing about writing. I’ve also found discovery in writing to be the exact opposite, and in some ways the cure, for writer’s block.
Discovery, at least to me, is when things click or become more clear. A character pops up that wasn’t planned, but is clearly the answer to everything. You come up with a backstory that actually makes the character’s current actions make sense. You figure out how to fill in the saggy middle with actual, interesting plot. These are just some examples of those moments that can be exhilarating, exciting, and can even cause a rush of adrenaline.
Some people call this a “Eureka moment” or an “‘Aha!’ moment.” I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t bring up NaNoWriMo and mention that they have a badge that participants can award themselves if this happens during their writing in November.
Why is this my favorite thing about writing? Probably because of how often it comes when I’m at a particularly low point in my writing. This is not always the case, but more often than not, the biggest, or at least most exhilarating moments of discovery come when I’m experiencing what most would consider “writer’s block.”
I have discovered that writer’s block most often happens when I’m struggling to break through a confusing, uncertain, or even boring section of a story. This can happen during any stage of writing–dreaming, planning, writing, or even revising. When that happens, I turn to a variety of tricks to try to figure out what I’m missing. Sometimes it leads to an “Aha!” moment, sometimes just a calmer, more basic answer to my question so I can move on. And to be clear, the joy of discovery is not only relegated to the exciting moments. Though discovery is almost always at least a little exciting to me.
Before I close, I’ll mention a few tricks that I use to try to coax those moments of discovery. I’ll address some more in-depth in future Writing Wednesday posts, but here are a few that don’t require as much explanation:
- freewrite (especially with a prompt)
- change your writing medium (for example, from computer/device to handwriting, or vice versa)
- change your writing environment
- listen to some music that reminds you of what you’re writing
- keep asking yourself the questions you need to answer while going about the rest of your day
- don’t decide to give up and come back when “inspiration strikes”
What about you? What tricks do you use to break through when you’re stuck? Have you had your own “Aha!” moments? What is your favorite thing about writing?