The London Book Fair (#lbf16) starts tomorrow and I thought I’d mark the occasion with celebrating writers and the writing process, while at the same time paying homage to our most precious, most valued resource: readers!
Quite often we find ourselves staring at a blank piece of paper or a computer monitor, hard-pressed to create something meaningful. They call it writer’s block, but that’s a fallacy. Writers aren never blocked from writing, we just go through phases when the elements that feed our creative core fade. And to rectify that, we need to reboot our external conditions to find inspiration.
I often compare writing to eating. I only eat when I am hungry, and failing to follow that basic biological principle is always detrimental. No matter how busy I am or how impractical it is for me to just sit down and write, when the writing hunger strikes, I invariably find the time and create the necessary conditions to sit down and ‘eat’. Using the same analogy, when you are unable to write, it means you must figure out a way to work up an appetite.
To test this theory, I ran a little experiment on my Facebook page. I challenged my readers to come up with a name, age, profession and location of a fictitious character (or the equivalent of trying to work up an appetite when I was feeling quite full), and I promised them I would come up with a unique back story for each entry.
I wanted to test if I could write on demand if handed as motivation the most basic ingredients to flesh out a story.
The result was surprising, invigorating and empowering. Although sloppy and raw as it’s minimally edited, it’s part flash fiction, part character study, and 100 percent proof that as a writer, your most effective weapon is your imagination, but that you can’t wait for the world around you to fuel it.
Sure, it may feel like your writing engine is stalling a little when the raw ingredients of creativity are dry, but your ability to write is always there. If you must write, all you need to do is actively introduce fresh ingredients and do something to boost your creative hunger.
But never step away from the writing arena defeated, hoping that the block will resolve itself. It never does.
Enjoy, and much gratitude to my delightful readers for gifting me these characters!