Sunday, October 14, 2007

Beating A Block - Christina Hollis

Sometimes there are days when the words won’t come. It’s like insomnia. When you can’t sleep, lying in bed trying to drop off makes it impossible to get any rest. Staring at a computer screen when you’ve got nothing to say is equally unproductive. I’ve never found a cure, but over the years I’ve found a few things that help.

First, and most importantly, I spend plenty of time thinking about my work in progress before going anywhere near the computer. There’s something about Paperclip Man combined with the drone of the equipment that puts me right off. I only sit down and switch on when I’m itching to get started. When those sentences begin dancing across the page it’s a real boost to the self-confidence. Once that happens, there’s no stopping me (other than for tea and cake, of course).

Chapter hopping can kick start the imagination. If I’ve been tussling unhappily with one particular scene, I’ll hop forwards or backwards in the story and work on a different part for a while. That’s the beauty of writing straight onto computer. Pages can never get left on a bus, or borrowed to scribble out a shopping list. If I’ve typed it, it’ll be in the computer records somewhere!

A change of tone also works wonders. I spent most of last week letting my latest hero and heroine, Marco and Cheryl, frolic through a tropical paradise. By Friday morning I was relaxed to the point of being horizontal. All I wanted to do was take time off to enjoy our glorious Indian summer and do some gardening. But I’ve got a dreadline on the horizon. ‘1k per day’ is my motto, so it was time to get tough. With Cheryl lulled into a false sense of security after her desert island holiday, I got her to interfere in Marco’s troubled family life (with the best of intentions, of course!). It sparked a furious row that had them bouncing off the page. I can’t wait to see what happens next. That’s a good sign – if I’m looking forward to finding out where their story goes from here, you should be, too!

Finally, when all else fails, I start haggling with my inner child. Finish this tricky scene, I tell myself, and my reward will be a walk down to the store and a treat from the bakery counter.

It works wonders on my prose, but wreaks havoc on my waistline!

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