The Perfect Cure For Writer’s Block – Grab Yourself A Paintbrush, Some Scissors And An Old Magazine
I was reading something the other day, it could well have been right here on WordPress, about a writer who managed to ‘cure’ the dreaded writer’s block by putting the writing to one side and actually spending a day or so doing nothing else but designing a cover for the novel he was working on.
He said the physical act of drawing and painting helped him focus on what the story was about and how the various characters related to one another, and looking at the design actually resolved for him all the problems he’d previously found insurmountable in his book. And it reminded me of something similar that happened to me in the past, and still does to a certain extent these days.
Looking back at my first feeble attempts to write seriously I can remember deciding to write a ‘play’. I say ‘play’, because in truth what I really wanted to create was a ‘musical’ or at least a play with music. I believe there is a difference. Well, I feel there is.
Okay, I made a start. I began plotting it all out – these characters will get into this situation which leads to this happening and we might have a song in here…..and before long I was struggling. It was all too much for me, and I wasn’t enjoying it. It was hard work. I wanted to have ‘fun’. The dreaded Writer’s Block was upon me.
Then one weekend I decided to pass an hour or two ‘messing around” with some old magazines, a pair of scissors, a tube of glue and an old scrapbook, and it changed everything completely.
I’ve always loved doing collage, it’s something I would do every day if I didn’t have other pressing duties….I’m like that. It’s an age thing.
So, flipping through the old magazines I found some great photos of motorbikes, juke boxes, swinging 60’s chicks in mini skirts, old buildings, you get the picture, and I began cutting out these images and gluing them randomly throughout the scrapbook. I had no real ‘end product’ in mind, nor did it seem to have anything remotely to do with plotting a play…but after a short while I realised what I was actually doing was designing small ‘stage sets’. And the curious thing is the more randomly I glued the torn up pieces of magazine together the more it all made some sort of sense.
These were not huge sets, but the kind of bare minimum theatre set that could be wheeled on and off stage or rotated…quite minimal sets that would ‘represent’ let’s say an office, or an oasis in the desert you name it. Of course it’s been done zillions of times over the years. I wasn’t inventing the wheel I was just rolling it down the hill to see what would happen.
I also snipped out individual letters from the magazine headlines and these were glued randomly throughout the scrapbook to create ‘scene titles’…and I have to say, I thought the whole thing looked fantastic.
The following day I took a look at what I’d collaged together out of nothing and amazingly it all sort of made sense. Here in front of me was the perfect blueprint (storyboard) for the ‘musical play’….I couldn’t believe it.
With a little re-ordering of the arty ‘sets’ I could see how it all might work and the graphic images certainly spurred me on to begin writing. It all seemed like great ‘fun’. I was back ‘in the groove’ as we might have said way back then. Begone foul Writer’s Block.
So, did the musical play ever see the light of day. Nope. Not a chance. But had I enjoyed the writing experience? Yep. Definitely. And the artwork? Oh, that was great fun. And the writer’s block? I wasn’t afraid of it any more, I knew it could be beaten.
Okay, so what’s the point of all this backstory? Well, I do believe that there is a link between writing and visual stimuli. Some people. like the guy I mentioned earlier, are inspired by doing their own drawing and painting, others prefer to take photographs and use them as writing aids. I know a couple of writers I’ve worked with who collect various bits and pieces of ephemera, or go beach combing and use these objects to stimulate the creative writing process. If it helps get the words down on the paper or onto the computer screen it can’t be bad, can it? Now where are those scissors and the Evo Stik………………….?