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Friday, August 26, 2011

Character Overload

I am often was plagued with a severe outbreak of character overload. If you’re a writer, I know this has happened to you. It may even happen to a reader if you read several books at the same time. How do you read several books at the same time? I don’t have a clue, but one of my friends says she does. I doubt she’s alone. Anyway, my definition of character overload is a condition in which all the characters you have, whether in books being edited, in the work you’re currently writing or those you have plotted that are awaiting their opportunity for the turn of your pen (or computer keystroke), begin to war in your mind for dominance.

When this happens to me, I find myself balanced on a piece of thin wire, hopping from thought to thought and unable to settle down and make noticeable progress on any one project. It’s happening to me again. Editor 1 sent me front edits for a co-written book that will be released in November. Editor 2 is gearing up to send me the same on another book coming out very soon. At the same time, I just finished edits and need to publish an indie work and there’s still another one waiting for its last 6,000 words. But, you see, the characters in that book are so fed up with my not completing their story, they’ve clammed up and they aren’t talking.

I doubt I’ll ever have Alzheimer’s because my mind gets a great work out. I may, however, end up with one heck of a case of multiple personality disorder. Who am I kidding? I already have it and have professed to it on several guest blogs. Character Uprising, a poem I wrote a long time ago, tells the story about this kind of writer’s block:

My characters are not too pleased,
With whom I’ve written them to be,
They’ve been grumbling, and they might
Form a union, go on strike.

It’s a lot longer than that, but you get the idea. So, the question is how do I get out of this stalemate and negotiate with my characters to open up? Here are my top four ways to cure my temporary block:
1)     Take a break and do something else creative other than writing. One great way to do this is to draw or paint. I like to make a mandala. You can Google this, but basically it’s a circle with designs. Many folks use them when meditating or in spiritual pursuits. Maybe that’s why I like to do it, because it gets me in touch with my inner self.
2)     Go for a drive or just take a walk outside. There’s something about being out in the sun and fresh air that rejuvenates the mind, allowing for it to process once again.
3)     Work on a mind puzzle and stimulate the left side of your brain. The right side will rise to the occasion and start producing.
4)     Get plenty of rest. If you’re sleep deprived, it’s doubtful you’ll produce anything that’s creative.

I’d love to hear from other writer about your techniques, and readers, what helps clears your mind so you can produce?
Bobbye Terry is the multi-published writer of fantasy, suspense and romantic comedy novels under her own name, her solo pseudonym, Daryn Cross, and her co-authored one, Terry Campbell. Her previous works have garnered finalist awards in the Booksellers’ Best and other RWA-sponsored contests. Bobbye’s most recent release is The Marriage Murders. Her next book, Coming to Climax, will be released the week of September 5th by Turquoise Morning Press.


Unknown said...

hey Bobbye! I am so in the same spot! just did a MASSIVE re-write on my "choose your romance/ending" project with breathless (a mere 3 weeks prior to scheduled release) and am about to open up 2nd edits on another large novel for Rebel AND have 3 shorts from Decadent headed my way with 1st/2nd edits. Plus I want to get back to my big Naughty Realtor project to polish/sub. But I will say I don't get characters too mixed up. what I do get is cross eyed from red ink!
keep up your great work

Tina Donahue said...

Oddly enough, the moment I start exercising (and I do, 40 minutes every day), the floodgates open and I solve writing problems. Trouble is, I'm panting too hard and moving too much to write anything down. Sooooo, I have to keep repeating the solution in my head so I don't forget it. Works everytime and it does seem to make the dreaded exercise go faster. :)

Paris said...

Taking a walk or meditating usually works for me and sometimes jotting down the ideas or characters background keeps the story fresh while I'm working on something else. Great post!

Bobbye Terry said...

Thanks to Liz, Tina and Paris. It's great to know others feel my pain. :)

Janice Seagraves said...

When I needed a break from writing or a great pick me up, I was having a massage at the mall.

However the last few times I did they rubbed my tendons too hard. I have tendinitis and when the massue rubbed my tendons, they burned like fire. I tensed and hurt for days after.

So now I visit a craft store with my daughter. She love crafts and we both usually find something new to do. The last time we went, my hubby bought me a new wood burner. I can't wait to try it out.


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