Shaking the rust off my muse

About a year ago in The Writer magazine, they reprinted an excellent old essay by Lois Duncan (who wrote Summer of Fear and I Know What You Did Last Summer) about writer’s block. I e-mailed Ms. Duncan about it and she was kind enough to respond.

As I ponder what she wrote, I think about what I’d like to accomplish as a writer: each day writing 2,000 words on on my novel, short stories, writing an essay or two, doing a journal entry, a few poems and updating my blogs.

It really boils down to writing. No excuses. No recreational activities until you write.

Simple, isn’t it?

On Friday I work at the newspaper, but I’ll see if in my spare time I can accomplish this. I’m having to share a computer since my laptop isn’t working properly, so we’ll see.

Richard Zowie is a writer. Post comments here or e-mail them to richardzowie@gmail.com.

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The agony of writer’s block

Forget defeat, headaches, past-due bills, the death of your favorite pet duck, the election of a woefully-inexperienced president, a traffic jam when you’re already late, finding out the man/woman of your dreams is already married, running out of iced tea and a check-engine light on your car’s dashboard. Nothing is more agonizing than writer’s block.

Let me take stock. I have a novel and several short stories in the production stage. Currently, I’m about two-thirds done on my rough draft of The Game Show and am about a third into my short story whose name I’d rather not divulge. Both are suspenseful thrillers with characters that seem alive and well.

My problem? I am not sure what to write next.

In my short story, for instance, a man stumbles upon a town that’s not on the map in West Texas and learns, much to his dismay, the locals already know who he is and want to punish him for past deeds. What happens next is something I can’t quite figure out.

Same for the book about a game show where more meets the eye. And, of course, same for the short story about the astronomer who discovers a strange planet and a long short story about a man who buys a gorgeous house at way below its appraised price.

How do you overcome writer’s block?

I think I may need to google “Lois Duncan” and “writer’s block” and see what she wrote about it in The Writer magazine. We’ll see if that helps.

Richard Zowie’s first short story was a very forgettable one, written on a single sheet of notebook paper when he was eight. Scorpions in a lake. Blech. Post comments here or e-mail Richard at richardzowie@gmail.com.

Great advice from Lois Duncan

If you get a chance, check out page 22 of the April 2009 issue of The Writer magazine. In the From The Writer Archive (March 1969), author Lois Duncan gives great advice for breaking writer’s block. I found it especially helpful, since the rough draft of a novel (of which I’m about 3/4 done) is bogged down by writer’s block.

My two favorite Duncan books are Summer of Fear and the very-underrated Killing Mr. Griffin. Ms. Duncan, if you’re reading this, I think your depiction of  humorless, no-nonsense teacher was absolutely brilliant.