Knock-Out Writers Block: Listening To Your Inner Voice

When I was young, I used to talk to myself. Long, drawn out, one-sided conversations. I didn't have an imaginary friend, I just talked to myself. My mother says that's why I became a writer: because of my overactive imagination. I admit she may be right. Those conversations currently get me through my worst cases of writer's block.

I have to laugh when I read articles on breaking through a writing slump. They always have tips like: go to the mall and make up a story about the people you see there..or..write down a dream you had the other night..or..think about the happiest moment in your childhood and write about it. You can even sign up and have a writing "prompt" emailed to you everyday. And I can't help but think, Does this work for anyone? I mean, really? I've come to discover that I'm not like the average author. The normal methods of combating writer's block do not apply to me. In writing mode, I can only concentrate on one novel at a time. I get distracted easily, so writing something on the fly only leads me down one path: The- Hey-I-Just-Came-Up-With-Another-Great-Idea-For-A-New- Book-So-I'm-Gonna-Drop-The-One-I'm-Currently-Angsting- Over-And-Start-A-New-Novel path. Believe me, it's happened before. I was young (seventh grade to be exact), just starting out, and I didn't know any better.

Now, I just put the novel away..and wait. The wait has been known to last six months to a year. Sometimes longer. For others, the time frame may be shorter, but eventually they will come. The inner voices, I mean. I no longer hold verbal one-sided conversations with myself. My characters have one-sided conversations with me..in my head. When they start talking to me about dialogue and plot, that tells me it's time to pull out the novel and jump in again.

So, go on. You try it: Open up your mind and listen to your inner voice. If we ever meet at a conference or a book signing and you tell me that you've been hearing voices, I won't think you're crazy. I promise.

Copyright © 2004 ? Celise Downs. Reprinted with permission. Celise is a Young Adult fiction author and owner of Gemini Mojo Press. Her books, "Secrets and Kisses" (Mar 2004) and "Dance Jam Productions" (Sept 2004), are currently available on the publisher website at http://www.GeminiMojoPress.com.

In The News:

Marilyn's writing debut  Royal Gazette
Here Come the Prose Police  The Chronicle of Higher Education
Public Writing and the Junior Scholar  The Chronicle of Higher Education
The Heavy Unseen Labor of Writing Reference Letters  The Chronicle of Higher Education
Literal Writing Exercises  The New Yorker
Scholars Talk Writing: TJ Stiles  The Chronicle of Higher Education
Tinker, Tailor, Writer, Spy  The New York Times

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