Lazette Gifford
Publisher & Editor
zette@cableone.net

 

The 7-Day Blockbusting Crash Course

By Filip Wiltgren
2006,
Filip Wiltgren


The Marvelous 7-Day Blockbusting Crash Course is a product of caffeine, positive thinking, and an overdose of self-help books. It is the nightmare of writer's block and the bane of empty pages everywhere. And it actually works. Here's how.

First of you need to set aside a week. If you have a tight schedule, try handing your assignments over to someone else, pushing them forward, rearranging the deadlines, or simply forfeiting them. Why? Because during this week you won't be doing any writing. That's right, no writing whatsoever. No fiction, no faction, no journal entries. Nothing. The keyboard is for chatting and sending instant messages -- if you absolutely must. But if you can beat your internet addiction, don't write anything at all.

The next step is best done in the bathroom. Every morning when you wake up, go stand in front of the mirror. Look at yourself and touch yourself in the chest with index and middle fingers (imagine a drill instructor poking a recruit), and say in a loud and clear voice, "This will be a wonderful day." 

That's affirming, making positive statements. Affirmations work on the principle that if you say something often enough it will become true. And, strangely enough, they do work, which says something about the power of the mind -- or the lack thereof.

Now smile at yourself. You like yourself, and if not, the least you can do is pretend. Say, "I'm the greatest writer in the world. I can write anything, anytime, anywhere." Say it again. Loud. If you feel silly doing this (and if you've never used affirmations before, then you will) try screaming it. Or saying it in the shower where no one will hear you.

If you've got someone you trust to support you, like a partner or very good friend, say it in front of them. Make them agree and confirm it. That makes the statement even truer. But don't leave anything to chance. Tell them beforehand what you expect them to do, so they won't be surprised or act inappropriately. And don't think this lets you off the hook about talking to yourself. This is only an addition.

Say it. "I'm the greatest writer in the world." Say it every time you're about to open a door, every time you sit down and every time you wash your hands. And every time you see yourself in the mirror smile at yourself and say that this is a wonderful day.

These affirmations prepare your subconscious, peppering it with positive images, erasing all those "can'ts" and "don'ts" you've been deluged with for your entire life. They level the ground for the big one, the major affirmation that will set your writing mind free. More on that later.

You also have to start moving in the morning. Do the Sun Salute, do calisthenics, or jump up and down every morning. Get yourself into motion, get your heart pumping, and flush the sleep hormones from your mind.

Find something that works for you, whether it's pushups, aerobics, or running a mile before breakfast. Anything will do as long as you give your fitness a quick boost. The goal is to get you ready for the day and raise your base fitness. Remember, if you're fit you'll rest while writing, and if you aren't you'll be doing some serious physical labor even while sitting perfectly still. And if writing is both psychological and physical work then you're twice as unlikely to do it.

Let's return to the first rule again. Absolutely no writing! I mean it. You might start feeling good after a day or two, but don't fall for the temptation to sit down and write. You're supposed to energize your mind into a frenzied craving to writing. Don't waste that on a single afternoon of messing around with your latest manuscript. You'll wake up the next day and feel like you're back in the grind. It's simply not worth it. Go jogging instead, or read a good book.

Even better, find a friend you haven't spoken to in a while and hug him. Physical contact is vital to humans. If you give someone a hug you'll lift their spirits and your own. And it's not every day that you're able to lift two people at the same time.

When the affirmations start to feel all right you can try inserting other affirmations. Do you feel that you're procrastinating? Try saying, "I do what I need to do right away."

Those are in addition to "I'm the greatest writer in the world. I can write anything, anytime, anywhere." Remember, you're the greatest writer in the world. Not a good writer, not a great writer. The greatest. That's important.

Your mind has been steeped in our negative society your whole life. If you're a great writer or, heaven forbid, a good writer, then your subconscious will find cracks in your armor to slip the negative thoughts through. "I'm good but I'm not that great." "I'm great but there are bound to be people who don't like my writing. I need to be sure that everyone will love my work or nobody will like me." And so on and so forth.

But if you're the greatest writer in the world those things don't matter. You're the greatest. There are poor analphabetic children in Sudan learning to write by scratching a stick in the sand just so they'll be able to read your book. Madonna, the Pope, and the ghost of Theodore Roosevelt are waiting to read your book. And they'll all absolutely love it. They'll be sending you fan mail. That's right, you'll get fan mail from the Pope. Probably an absolution as well. Positive sharks like that swimming around in your subconscious will gobble up any doubts it might otherwise have spawned.

And while you're at it, try some visualizing. See yourself writing "the end" and sending your manuscript off. See the glorious reviews, the hordes storming Barnes and Noble to get a copy, and the desperate 3 A.M. calls from publishers begging you to sell them the fifth reprint paperback rights.

Ok, you've been affirming yourself for six days. You've read Dynamic Characters, The Courage to Write and Writing the Breakout Novel. You're full of enthusiasm, or at least a mild curiosity to see what all of this will generate. Now's the time for the coup de grace.

Starting right after you've had your morning affirmations you'll start affirming "Tomorrow I'll write a lot." Affirm it as many times as you can and in addition to your usual affirmations. The closer you get to turning in for the night the more you should affirm it. When you put your head down on your pillow, think, "Tomorrow I'll write a lot, I'll get up and write a lot." Don't leave room for doubt. Make sure it is the last thought in your head before you fall asleep. "Tomorrow..."

During the night your subconscious will be working on all the things you'll write on the morrow. Soaked in hundreds -- nay, thousands -- of positive affirmations, it won't rebel at the thought of you doing great deeds. It will listen to what you've said, spit in its metaphorical hands and say, "Let's do it."

You'll wake with the perfect sentence tolling like a great bell in your frontal lobes.

So what are you waiting for? Go write it down!

 

Works Cited:

Dynamic Characters. Nancy Kress; ISBN: 1582973199.

The Courage to Write. Ralph Keyes; ISBN: 0805074678.

Writing the Breakout Novel. Donald Maass; ISBN: 158297182X.

 

Filip Wiltgren is an on-off writer. When he's on, he spews forth pages so fast a million monkeys hacking away at a million typewriters randomly writing the collected works of Shakespeare would be envious. When he's down, he can't get himself to touch the keyboard even if everything else is covered in razor wire. Such days he does a lot of relaxations and affirmations and, when everything else fails, curls up in his wife's lap and complains.

When he isn't imitating Dr. Phil, Filip works as a freelance writer and game designer. He's based in Sweden.

Comments are appreciated at filip[replace with at-sign]wiltgren.com