Wednesday, 26 August 2009

I believe that good writing is like good acting. It comes across as completely natural. When you're watching a good film or play, you're not constantly aware that the people on screen or stage are actors. And in the same way, a good piece of writing draws you in, to the point where you become unaware that someone has crafted this prose for your reading pleasure. It's simply there, permeating your consciousness and illuminating your thoughts.
Therefore, writing in a readable way, should flow. And, for those of you who are familiar with the dreaded writer's block, here's a great way to beat it. Simply write. And before you turn away from this blog in disgust, crying 'shame on you for leading me up the literary garden path', it really is that simple. For example, we had a guest staying recently whose ambition it was to write about her extremely traumatic family history, which was intertwined with a recent and serious health problem. The problem, she explained to me, was that she was so emotionally involved, she found it difficult to take even the smallest step back from the story - and formulate any kind of coherent and readable text. Every time she came to a difficult memory, her emotions would overwhelm her, and she'd become unable to write
Accordingly, I watched as she scribbled up to the point where she felt unable to continue, and then, as she became anxious and tearful, I asked her to tell me what she was feeling. That was easy for her. In fact it was quite cathartic. And, when, after a few moments, I asked her to write down what she was saying, she found that easy too. Within ten minutes she'd written a page - and now the words were pouring out. Line by line, paragraph by paragraph, her emotions gave way to more factual descriptions, which, after being edited later on, when she was calmer, made great copy. Now, any time she gets blocked, she says what she's feeling - out loud. Then she writes it, and the block is cleared.
You see? If you're blocked, don't stare at your screen or notebook. Write. The rest will follow.

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