Cute cat pic of the week: Kozmo being adorable (if I do say so myself).
Writing advice is a tricky thing, because every writer is different. One writer may thrive on a detailed outline; another may only be able to write with the spontaneity of the unknown. Ultimately, you have to learn how to take advice and make it work for you—and for your own strengths and weaknesses.
Figuring out those strengths and weaknesses when you write regularly is probably pretty simple. It’s a natural understanding of what you like and what you don’t, or what you do well and what you struggle with.
When you don’t write regularly, or at all, you only have a grasp of your hypothetical strengths and weaknesses—but I believe figuring these out, even in theory, might help get you past your inability to write. It should at least give you some tools for understanding your own creativity, and how to work with it.
The first stage is to look back at whatever you’ve done—and what you haven’t done. Where does your work tend to fall apart? Where does your work go most smoothly? What do you think without effort, with pure interest? What trips you up, intimidates you, or fills you with dread?
The key here is not to look at reading—at least, not entirely. Again and again, I’ve discovered that what I like to read doesn’t necessarily correspond with what I can write… I don’t know why. What you don’t like to read is probably a good indicator of what you’d rather not write, but you may be surprised.
When I was writing a lot of projects involving “crossovers” (where a ‘normal’ character enters the magical world), I thought the stuff before the crossover would be boring and the stuff after would be the fascinating good stuff—the magic and all that. But again and again I found that the normal stuff before the crossover came easily and with interest, but the stuff past the crossover sagged and died. There could be a lot of reasons why, but the point is that I wouldn’t have guessed that I would actually like writing the “normal” stuff.
Once you’ve given it some thought, make a list of what you do particularly well—or what you most like doing. Even if it’s just a fragment of the process, like “coming up with names.” Then try and develop ideas or projects that prioritize those elements—even if you have to force the rest. Or that work best with those elements. For example, if you’re good with names, maybe you could write a story about a person whose job in their culture is to name children (or something…?).
It may not fix all your problems, but knowing your strengths and weaknesses as a writer (and as a person) can only improve your understanding of yourself and your work.
It’s a great place to start.