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Tag: guide to writing

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The Cure for Writer's Block

        Most writer's say they have suffered from "writer's block".  However, in reality, the malady does not exist. There is nothing actually blocking them from writing. There is no paralysis of the hand, or amnesia of the mind. What they are actually referring to is their stubborn conscious mind attempting to edit and control their subconscious impulses. Most writers who have written extensively will attest to the fact that the story and the characters take on a life of their own once the tale gets going. The subconscious and the collective consciousness have powerful drives and impulses, and once the creative juices unleash the raw animal passion lurking beneath the cerebral control, their needs come fully alive. Whether we like the results, or not.  There may even be greater forces at work here, but that's for the metaphysics experts to figure out.

        So, the problem is not that the author is blocked, the issue is that the writer is blocking himself.

        The Cure:  Throw up and Clean up.   First, you throw up.  Write whatever comes to mind, anything, everything, no matter how crazy, wild, or unrelated to the scene at hand. If you wish to remain firmly inside your scene, then write an outrageous turn of events, bring in a new character, turn everyone's motives upside down, be dirty, nasty, and/or cruel. Turn on some inspiring music and write.Write, write, write. There is no "perfect" in the world of creativity. Describing the minute details of a landscape, or other such boring details, will drive the subconscious mad, and like a stubborn child, it will refuse to cooperate, resulting in a very bad case of the dreaded malady.

        Once you have thrown up, clean it up. I guarantee you will find some very useful material, lyrical passages, insights into the needs of the characters, and the landscape will come to life in a way it never could have in the controlled, sterile vacuum of your mind. In fact, it is likely you will find a jewel in the remains, priceless and fresh. It could be that the key element to the scene is clarified, a hidden secret of a character in illuminated, an intriguing new characteor has come to life, or fresh themes and insights are revealed that your logical brain could never have imagined.

       Get drunk on tequila if you must, but do it now.  Shut off your mind and let your inner spirit take the reins. That is the only cure for "writer's block".

Anastasia Blackwell

 

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Anastasia Blackwell Interview on Venice Poet who Inspired First Page of Novel

In a series of interviews set in historic Jacksonville, Oregon I talked about the Venice Beach poet who inspired me to begin to write 'The House on Black Lake, a story inspired by a powerful personal experience.  Here are my thoughts:

 

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THE GENESIS OF THE HOUSE ON BLACK LAKE

The genesis of House on Black Lake Lake did not come in a dream, as did Stephanie Mayers, Twilight, although many dreams conbributed to its execution. The beginning of my story began with an actual experience not unlike that of Alexandra's.  I was a newly separated mother invited to holiday at the summer home of friends.  On the night of our arrival, my son and I were rowed out to stay in a decaying house on an island in the middle of the lake.  The remainder of my stay was steeped in drama and mystery, and when I returned I told the story again and again, until one night years later I told the story to a man who would encourage me to set the story to paper.

In a seaside bar in Venice Beach, California the elderly poet, who was a muse to younger writers, told me to go home and describe how it felt to be rowed across the lake to the house on the island.  The story would  take its own shape once I started, he told me.  When I returned to my home in the San Francisco Bay Area, I fell while watering a plant and landed in bed or on crutches for over a month.  I felt terribly sorry for myself, and began to write The House on Black Lake.  As the old man advised, the story did take on its own life, in a way I could not have possibly imagined.  None of the scenes were designed by me - they all came unbidden.  As example, I dreamt that a handsome French looking man approached me in an antique store, and as I admired a French armoire he said," just because it says its French it doesn't mean it actually is" - then he said the name Labat's.  There are endless stories and anecdotes for nearly all of the scenes in the book.  They are all interwoven with experiences, and yet separate, with a life of their own. 

What has surprised me most about setting out to write this book, is that it has rewritten the script of my own life.  The journeys I have taken to bring truth to the book have enriched my life with incredible experiences, and many new friends who are still in my life.   Goethe's quote about boldness having power and magic is true - if you have something inside that aches to be brought to life - begin it now!

A.