Yesterday while unsuccessfully trying to come up with an interesting post, we pored over books about totem poles, the elements of design, Paris Review writer interviews among other things. And we couldn’t get the creative motor going. Then we remembered having met a very funny writer over the weekend, Bruce Ferber. Ferber is a 30 year veteran television writer, who has left that world to embark on his career as a novelist. What struck us about our conversation with him is how he talked about his process. “For me,” he said, “It’s really important to find the play in what I do. It’s really important to have fun.” So, looking to get some fun out of this, we reached out to Ferber to get some tips on getting unstuck.
1. Change Location – Ferber used to write in his office at his desk when suddenly his office started feeling like an office. There were stacks of paper at his desk and working there felt, well, like work. So leaving his computer behind, mechanical pencil and paper in hand, he upped and relocated to his yard, his dog following him as he went. And once he got there, the break from technology and change in scenery inspired creation.
2. Change Writing Tools – Word is a straight forward software and who doesn’t use it? Well Ferber did until he found Scrivener, which allows writers to break down each chapter into a separate document. The ability to move things around easily makes editing and puzzling things together fun, rather than an argument with a cursor.
3. Pay Attention to the Signs – As Ferber started writing his most recent book, he was trying to sort things out about the character and the direction of the story, when he came across a Penny Saver advertisement for a cheap $299 per eye Lasik procedure. For some reason, this intrigued him and before he knew it, it became the jumping off point for the main character in his very funny and heartfelt novel.
4. Reward Yourself – In line with changing loaction, Ferber likes to travel to find new places to write. He is admittedly not a Coffee House writer but he likes to explore the local hangouts wherever he goes. So for him, getting some work done in a cabin or a motel that’s out of town only means that he will get the reward of checking out the nearest bar or coffee shop.
Ferber told he us he doesn’t actually get blocked. “I just find the act of writing a tortuous process,” he said “unless I’m free and relaxed – that’s where the “make it fun” thing comes from. Then, once I get a bunch of pages written I can go back to the computer without feeling like its slave.” Well, we’ll take any advice we can get about turning something so difficult into a good time…And, speaking of good time, if you’re looking for an easy read with lots of heart, check out “Elevating Overman.” You won’t be disappointed.