Peggy Bechko: Writers With The Slows

by Peggy Bechko


Sometimes writing is just slow.

Sometimes you can’t get an idea to save your life.

Sometimes you just want to give yourself a little nudge and kick the whole writing process into gear. You’re sick of staring into space, sick of faking it, believing that faking it will actually make the writing happen; all to get it moving.

I’m not talking about writer’s block, really, more like writer’s slow. Stuff is rattling around, but just doesn’t seem to want to get moving. What to do?

Today I have a few suggestions.

First, relax, take a few deep breaths. The harder you push, the harder it is.

1. Doodle. Yep, grab a pencil and put it to paper. Draw swirls and zigzags and pictures. Stick figures, circles or whatever. Or, as an extension of that doodling, write some lines, ideas or part of your story in longhand in a notebook instead of on the computer. You remember, pen in hand, pen to paper, write words. It’s a magical practice indeed. And it will prime the pump.

2. Another idea. Got an old dictionary or maybe thesaurus you no longer use? Chop it up into strips with words. Keep the definitions or synonyms attached. Toss all those bits of paper into a box or a bag and pull out one or two…or three or four. Combine them, turn them around, play with ideas.Write something down on that blank page.

3. Try re-reading what you wrote yesterday or the day before. Read any notes you made about the project. Tweak it a bit as you go if changes present themselves. Then jump off the cliff and keep on writing. Hey, if you mess it up you can always change it in the next draft.

4. Some kind of “I’m getting ready to write” ritual is a help to many writers. Something or a series of small somethings you do before you sit down to actually write and tell stories. Perhaps arrange pens neatly on your desk with a pad near your computer for quick jots, turn on some favorite soothing music, light a candle, put your cup of coffee in the usual place, give yourself 15 minutes for a quick email check (set a time or you can get sucked into the feared procrastination mode). Create something that is like a path leading your brain to where you want it to be – writing mode. Then do the same thing each time you sit down to write.

5. Consider reading a book on writing. Larry Brody has a great one on TV Writing called Television Writing From The Inside Out – – Stephen King offers On Writing A Memoir Of The Craft – and there’s my own Out of Thin Air – All are packed with tips on writing and ideas and reflections on the writer’s life. Doubtful you’ll actually get through the book right then because your own juices will begin flowing. And there are many more to choose from.

6. Consider looking through magazines or some other resource you feel comfortable destroying and cut out images that speak to you, inspire you, amuse you. Tack them up, get lost in them. Allow one to inspire you, to draw you in, to suggest a story you can’t ignore; one you just have to write.

That’s the gist of it today. If you have a favorite method of getting yourself rolling, of getting those writing juices flowing. If you have a way to trigger the creative story flow, leave a post below and let’s lengthen this list.