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Common Errors Writers Make

May 25, 2008
PART 1: WRITER'S BLOCK

From Rita Jamison's Freelance Writing Class; Adult Education, Los Altos, CA, 2005

At one time or another we all experience "writer's block." We have ideas. We know we have a good story to write. We just can't sit down to do it or we do sit down and just stare at the empty page -- for hours on end. What's holding us up? Why does this happen? Like a doctor weaving a patient's history, physical examination and results of key laboratory results into a pattern to make a diagnosis or a detective sifting evidence to solve a crime, we must find the facts, the bits of observation and data and put them together like a jig-saw puzzle.

What are the behavioral facts and observations that add up to Writer's Block? What to do about it?

FEAR OF FAILURE: There is no room here for self-doubt, feelings of inferiority or pessimism. You are worthy and if you want to be a writer, simply write. Play and talk on your paper or computer. Write honestly. Thoughts and feelings about parts of your story won't make for great reading, but this is the heart that's taken charge. At this point you can trust it. After all, you are free and have nothing more than a sheet of paper or computer page to lose. Also important, if you just write, you'll save the bundle that you'd have paid the shrink and really start feeling good about yourself.!

TALKING YOUR STORY AWAY: You tell your story to everyone from your significant other to the homeless guy's mongrel dog. You get great feed-back. The kudos levitate you to the clouds. You love it. You are what is known as a ham. And if you are not getting the tale recorded, you are no more an author than a pig's butt. If you want to be a writer, sit down and write! But remember, until you do sit down and write you're just a story-teller of a yarn that will be altered in every retelling or forgotten completely.

IGNORING LIFE AROUND YOU: A writer must listen and observe. What people say and how they make choices reveal their character. Also, everyone reacts in some way or another to their surroundings. Pay attention. Make notes or record your observations on a pocket tape player. Then sit down and write it all! Incorporate reality into your story.

FORGETTING THE THEME: The theme is why you write. It is not the plot. The plot is how what you want to tell us (the theme) happened. Theme is what you want your reader to know when she is through reading. You should be able to define your theme in one sentence. It runs through the story from start to finish. It keeps your rewriting on track. Forgetting it will sidetrack you and slow your story, or stop it altogether. Forgetting your theme will take you by the hand and lead you into the trap that is writer's block.
About the Author
Melvin M. Harter is a retired physician. He specialized in evaluation of the causes and extent of injury and disability. He has become a freelance writer and author of the novel, Some Kind of Angel. This sci-fi thriller explores the world of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and genocide. For more, visit Some Kind of Angel and view the video trailer.
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