Have you looked at a blank computer screen for hours or days wondering how to progress?
Do you perhaps know the beginning and the end, but the middle is a vast nothingness? If you have, you are not alone.
It's typically called a writing block and most writers experience them.
So what next? What can you do? Thankfully, when writing your own story, it can be much easier to overcome than other genres of writing.
So here's four tips on how to do it.
1. Use ALL of your senses
This is different for everyone, but there are so many ways to engage your senses and trigger memories and stories.
The idea is to return to a particular moment in your life which can be done through listening to music of a particular era, cooking or eating particular foods, smelling colognes or perfumes associated with particular people or events.
When I listen to music from the 90's I am absolutely back in school with my friends. Listening to show tunes brings me back to afternoons at the theater with my grandfather, and making chocolate crackles just shouts Nana love to me.
Using all of your senses allow you to return to a time in your life, but to move into that space experientially rather than cognitively. For many people, this method is highly effective, particularly when used in combination, so teat yourself to dinner with some great background music!
2. Gather your photographs
This may seem obvious, but by doing the obvious things increases our chances of completing the projects. If you have already collected some photographs, you can go through those again, looking at the details, the location and who was there, or even who was missing. But you can also find some new ones to spark thoughts or new ideas.
This might mean getting photographs surrounding the times you are writing about - and to compare or contrast them with the times you are focused on. You can also gather photographs of the people in your life, and see how they changed from one stage to another and how these changes impacted and were reflected in your own life.
3. Ask your family members
Every situation has multiple viewpoints.
Speaking to other friends, family members or neighbors expands your understanding and provides additional detail and context you many not have been aware of.
This is particularly true for your earliest memories, where children are often given a 'version' of a story, with many important elements edited out. These additions may open up different pathways or angles that you can explore, significantly enriching your project.
It may even cause you to reevaluate your own view of a particular moment or memory.
Meditation and deep breathing help many people to reconnect with a moment in their past. Sitting still. Removing distractions. Deep and regular breaths with eyes closed consciously returning to the moment in your past. When attempting this method, do not rush but allow yourself time to go back though your past experiences and explore your feelings in the moment.
This method is a mental exercise, but many writers find it very effective, though it is not recommended to do this in a public space.
All writers experience the feeling of being stuck. But there are many ways forward, and I hope these tips help you to break through and complete them!
If you're still stuck, perhaps you might want to check out the blog next week which is on the subject of writing when you just can't write.