Being an indie author is really hard, and it can be so easy to get wrapped up in the business side and the stress. Oh the stress! That can build up and lead to writers block. There are many reasons for writers block, including not writing the right thing, and fear, but today we’re looking at stress as the cause.
I’m very familiar with this sensation. As I’m sure you’re aware I’m counting down to the release of book one in my Urban Fantasy series Infernal Hunt. There’s a lot of pressure on this series, far more than has been on any of my previous releases. That means there’s so, so, much stress too. I haven’t written anything fresh and new in weeks, I haven’t had the energy and when I did try, I had writers block.
Do not fear my darlings, there are ways around this!
As I’m sure you’ve guessed from the title, writing for fun is a fantastic tool in your writerly toolbox. It’s so easy to push aside writing purely for fun, to focus on the projects that are marketable, those that will help pay the bills. The problem is, that weighs heavily on us, and we can only take so much before we crack.
It’s really important that we give ourselves the time and space to play sometimes. Not only is it good for us mentally and emotionally, but it can also help us solve plot problems and come up with shiny new plot bunnies. There’s really no downside here!
There are a few different ways to approach this, and you’ll need a friend (or a few friends) for some of them. If you’re like me, then you’ll find this first method difficult. It could work for you though. 😁
Take a deep breath. Open a shiny new document, or notebook, or wherever you draft your first drafts. Close your eyes. Relax. Write whatever scene pops into your head. Let yourself run with it, chase it. Forget about all of that craft stuff like making sure it makes sense, and hooking your reader. Forget all of it. Just write. Enjoy the images. Enjoy the sensation of writing something without any pressure.
Personally, I really, really, struggle to turn off my inner editor. I’ve tried that method many times and got stuck at about 1200 words every time because I start thinking, “what are the stakes? Where’s the emotion? Ugh that’s a bad trope!” etc etc. It could be exactly what you need though, so give it a shot!
This one has a bit more structure, so it could be better for those people who struggle to turn off that inner editor. Head over to TV Tropes (or ask some friends) and pick out a number of tropes. Set it to random, so you can have maybe 2 location tropes, 1 character trope, and 2 genre tropes. Whatever works for you. Give yourself five minutes to think on those tropes, then write like the wind! The important thing is to not worry about whether people will like it, whether it’s good, that doesn’t matter! The only thing that matters, is that it makes you happy to write it.
This one (and the next one) you’ll need one or more friends for.
Pick a character. It can be one you’re familiar with, or one that you build as you go. Set a location that everyone agrees on, say a beach, or a bar, whatever works for everyone. Then take turns writing what happens when all the characters meet up in that location. It’s kinda roleplaying. This is something I do with my best friend when we’re trying to figure out some details about our characters. We sit in Facebook chat, we usually pick a bar, then write what happens next. It’s a great way to figure out smaller details in characters and it can lead to a lot of laughs.
Again you’ll need one or more other people for this one.
Write a collaborative story! This is something else that I do with my best friend. This is actually how I got into writing in the first place. We were chatting on IM and I said, “let’s write a story.” and so we did 😁. This is really simple, and you’ve probably all done it many times before. Choose what order people will write in, have the first person write their opening paragraph, then roll from there. You can either do a continuous story between you, or you can write from the POV of different characters. For example, I might from the POV of Sian where Matty writes from the POV of Syn.
Free writing, or stream of consciousness. This is where you have to completely let go. Take a deep breath, push aside any fears and concerns and just write. It doesn’t matter if it makes absolutely no sense. You can write random strings of words that sound pretty, keep going until something starts to form and you relax.
The key here is to completely let go.
You have to give yourself permission to write complete nonsense. Give yourself permission to let go and have fun! Shrug off all of the pressure, and concern, and stress. Let yourself write something absolutely awful. Dive in and write all of those cheesy cliches you adore but don’t dare throw into your serious work. This writing is for you. You don’t have to tell anyone it exists if you don’t want to.
We all need some fun in our lives. Take the time to give yourself that. You’ll feel much better for it and I guarantee that your writing will improve too.
If you’re a fan of Urban Fantasy don’t forget to check out my Urban Fantasy series Infernal Hunt. Book one Infernal Ties is only 99c!