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The blank page and writer's block

An issue I think all writers experience at one time or another, whether they are writing fiction or non-fiction. Firstly, however, is writer’s block a real thing? What does it actually mean? How can it present? What would be interesting to follow this is a discussion of a range of strategies that are often suggested, along with some anecdotes from published writers (from literature, to television, films or even journalists) on the ways they have overcome their own writer’s block.

  • Cool topic! I've got some thoughts that might help. I'm a published writer myself, and I've heard a lot about this. A lot of fellow writers say writer's block isn't real. They say when we claim to have it, we're just stonewalling ourselves and the process. But for me at least, there does come a time when you're just...dry. It happens for a lot of reasons - you're out of ideas, you just finished a project and don't know how to start on the next one, you name it. In my personal experience, writer's block happens because of my fear. That is, I sit down to write and my inner editor/critic/prospective agent will not shut up. She says things like, "You're telling, not showing! This has been done! No one will read this! You can't do it again!" And no matter how much I tell her to shut the you-know-what up, she keeps yakking. I'm thinking of naming her - after Delores Umbridge. :) Anyway, perfectionism is a huge culprit. There's also the fact that as writers, we think of any excuse not to write. As in, "I gotta work on my day job first/I haven't showered yet/there's something good on TV/maybe after I work out the juices will flow..." As for strategies, I'm a fan of "just suck it up and write," but sometimes that doesn't work. Getting out of the house can be extremely helpful, and I'm a big fan of music. I associate a lot of my favorite songs with characters I've created, so listening helps me think of where I want to take them. Hope this helps! – Stephanie M. 2 months ago
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  • Journaling helps. I just read the book 'The War of Art' and essentially it chocks up creativity as more of a transcendent message that we as humans are just agents for. Even Tom Waits believes this. So, to combat these bursts of creativity, I keep a journal. Sometimes my thoughts are ten-fold, and sometimes it's as simple as "A man on the bus sitting with flowers." Well, imagine the possibilities in just that statement. Is it valentine's day? Is he apologizing? Why does he have flowers? It's these little nooks and crannies in life that can inspire so much. So journaling really helps in making sure my thoughts are worth something for the times when I don't think they are. I recommend actually getting a journal rather than notes in an iPhone, something tangible means more in the end. Another way I combat writer's block is to just go out and live. As writers there's a romanticism involved with the sequestered author hidden away critiquing the world. But I always try to engage with strangers I come across. This is where characters come from. Something as simple as the way a man's ears wiggle when he talks, is a character trait that will aid any story. Everything is borrowed, but it's only borrowed if we take the time to notice. So my two tips: 1) Journal and 2) Live! – ryhook 2 months ago
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Interactivity in Games: When Agency Matters.

Discuss examples in videogames when interactivity matters. Do Cut Scenes or sequences with Quick Time Events have a completely different meaning when they become interactive? Some examples are the final bosses in God of War 3 and Metal Gear Solid 3. How does timed decisions in cut scenes create tension and meaning? Some examples include Mass Effect and Telltale games. Does introducing interactivity in these games make them more immersive?

  • Fixed suggestions by Pamela Maria – Zander Jones 3 weeks ago
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  • I like this topic as it something that has been talked about when it comes to video games Should games offer more independence when it comes to gameplay or be tied to a lot of cut scenes and quick time events. Explore the negatives and positives of these features – cbo1094 1 day ago
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  • I like this topic as it something that has been talked about when it comes to video games Should games offer more independence when it comes to gameplay or be tied to a lot of cut scenes and quick time events. Explore the negatives and positives of these features – cbo1094 1 day ago
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How important is accuracy?

When it comes to things like superheroes like Superman, the Hulk, Iron Man, or Batman, everyone has an idea of their origin stories. But as the superhero movie franchise only continues to barrel forward, how important is it for writers to include an accurate recount of the superhero origins for new viewers? Or does it matter at all?

  • It matters to an extent. The idea of an adaptation is to provide a new interpretation to something pre-existing. You don't want the filmmakers to exactly follow the comics or else it would be boring. It has to be suitable so it can be translated to screen for a general film audience – cbo1094 1 day ago
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What will our future bring?

Many different TV series and films offer various visions of the future. Spanning from a dystopic universe where water is scarce and people scavenge, such as Tank Girl, or where the water levels have risen and earth is scarce, such as Waterworld, to futures where we have expanded into the stars, Star Trek, etc.

There are many interpretations of what comes next for us, and I thought an interesting topic would be to map some of these and look at the origin concept at their core. The easiest example would be to use Waterworld: rising sea levels due to climate change lead to eventually all but the highest peaks become completely under water that is more salt than fresh. Humanity moves to living in floating communities and diving for materials from the world before.

Many of these interpretations are not that far into our future and offer some interesting points of view on where the human race is heading. Can you think of other examples?

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    Uchiha Itachi and Severus Snape

    Compare the two fictional characters by contrasting character development for each. Also, shed light on how similarly crucial each character’s narrative is to the overarching narrative.

    • Can you offer more context? Comparison in what manner? Also, most people are familiar with Snape and his character - but perhaps not so much with Itachi. – Karen 1 month ago
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    • @Karen This would be fitting as a revision to this topic. =) – Misagh 1 month ago
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    • I didn't want the topic to be restrictive. But I am sure the concept of sacrifice should figure in the comparison... Anyone who is familiar with both characters should be tempted to write about the parallels between them--I think. – purplelight71 1 month ago
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    • My revision was marked as fixed, however your summary is the same as before. Please add more context to your topic. – Pamela Maria Schmidt 3 weeks ago
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    • Oh I apologize I thought 'fixed' was like pin this comment here! I'm new here :( – purplelight71 3 weeks ago
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    • Why is this side by side comparison important to explore? They may well be very similar, but the similarities between morally gray characters in two unrelated (albeit popular) franchises isn't necessarily a relevant topic. You can write a paper comparing any two things and even make a successful argument about it, but there should be a good reason to make the comparison in the first place. So why is it worth while to contrast and compare these guys? – TheCropsey 3 weeks ago
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    • One thing that joins these two characters is how much the fandom loves them and forgives them after hearing about their true motives despite the fact that they both did horrible things. You can examine how Rowling and Kishimoto managed to make them fan favourites to the point where some fans don't care that they were presented as horrible people for the majority of the series. – tmtonji 3 weeks ago
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    • purplelight71 no worries! – Pamela Maria 2 weeks ago
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    Native Americans in Hollywood film

    I would love to read an article detailing Native American representation in Hollywood cinema. Whitewashing, the Marlon Brando Oscars debacle, and more.

    • There was a 2009 documentary title "Reel Injun" that did a terrific job exploring this, and it is a powerful topic because of the influence that the portrayal of First Nations in films has had on the European North American consciousness. In light of the more recent calls for recognition of indigenous sovereignty, rights, and title to unceded land that have been in the news lately in both Canada and the US, examining our perceptions of First Nations peoples and biases formed by Hollywood visions would be well worth reading. – petethicke 1 week ago
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    • You're right that "Reel Injun" addresses this and does so amazingly. It is about 10 years old; however. I have yet to read recent well written online articles detailing this issue. – nbenn057 1 week ago
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    3

    Enough with the Dead White Guys, Already

    Ask any English major, teacher, or even English student about the current literary canon, and you’ll probably get a tongue-in-cheek response about dead white guys. Although the canon is expanding, most English literature curriculum offerings are still centered on Shakespeare, Dickens, Faulkner, Twain, you name it. If a class or canon is not centered on dead white male authors, it is labeled as such (World Literature, African-American Literature, etc). and sometimes taught as an elective. This sends a negative message to minority and female students, or those who may be white but of non-European heritage.

    Then again, I have no problem with some of the old dead white guys. I was reading Dickens when I was ten; he actually inspired some of my (rather bad) first forays into creative writing. I developed crushes on Shakespearean heroes. You get the drift. But we need so much more variety in our literary diets. So the question at hand is: How can we balance the canon so that all authors get representation? How much "dead white guy" literature do we need? Whose works deserve to stay in the canon, and who needs to go? If you could design an entire curriculum or canon yourself, what would be in it? Why?

    I’d love to write this myself, but I’m even more interested in what others think…so let’s get going. The floor is open!

    • This is a largely debated topic in many tertiary institutions and part of the issue is that the original categorisation of "Classic Literature" was developed by a dead, white guy. I agree that these are still texts that have great literary merit and power, but perhaps the issue is rather that the people who categorise the canon need to be those who are disenfranchised by the original canon. What would minority, female, students categorise themselves as powerful literature that fits in the category of English Literature. – SaraiMW 7 days ago
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    • I would like to propose a title change. You are mostly talking about native English speakers. There are so many other dead, white guys that have written amazing things that are not that well known (or known at all), because they did not write in English. Do not put all of them in one pot. – tanaod 6 days ago
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    • Noted. Perhaps something like, Expanding Representation in the Western Canon? – Stephanie M. 6 days ago
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    2

    Antagonist: An Analysis of Lucy (The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo)

    Analyse how the protagonist, Lucy, is simultaneously the antagonist of the YA novel, The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo. Lucy is an egocentric female lead, based on many actions she goes by in the novel. She also lacks good communication with her love interests, ultimately leading to the tragic demise of someone.

    • I will write this article. – Yvonne T. 1 week ago
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    Film

    Stop Rewarding Abusers In Hollywood
    Stop Rewarding Abusers In Hollywood
    Back to the Future: A Credit to the Science Fiction Genre
    Subtitling for Cinema: A Brief History
    Black Panther: Not the First Black Superhero Film but the Most Impactful

    TV

    The Hosts of Westworld: Human or Synth?
    The Hosts of Westworld: Human or Synth?
    Chuck, the Anti-Spy
    Antagonist-Centered Stories: What Can We Learn?
    “It’s Always Sunny” and Why We Laugh at Bad People

    Animation

    Isle of Dogs: Humanity in the Inhuman
    Isle of Dogs: Humanity in the Inhuman
    The 21st Century’s Most Meaningful Animated Shorts
    Samurai Jack: Exploring the Newfound Maturity
    The Double-Edged Stigma Faced By Western Animation

    Anime

    Is Sailor Moon a feminist icon?
    Is Sailor Moon a feminist icon?
    Are you a Sub or a Dub?
    An Isao Takahata Retrospective
    Attack On Titan: Anger as a Source of Motivation

    Manga

    One Punch Man vs. My Hero Academia: Reconstructing the Silver Age of Comics
    One Punch Man vs. My Hero Academia: Reconstructing the Silver Age of Comics
    Manga: How to Travel Between Dimensions
    Naruto: The Unresolved Revolution
    The 5 Saddest Moments in One Piece

    Comics

    Comic Books, Adults, and a History of Stigmatization
    Comic Books, Adults, and a History of Stigmatization
    The Social Stigma of Comic Book Reading
    What Should Happen To Captured Super Villains?
    Finding the Bridge Between Superhero Comics and Hip-Hop

    Literature

    Lessons from Our Favorite and Least Favorite Fictional Teachers
    Lessons from Our Favorite and Least Favorite Fictional Teachers
    Harry Potter: The Importance of Antagonists
    Thin Slicing in Jane Austen’s “Emma”
    Macleish’s play J.B. and the Problem of Evil

    Arts

    This is America: Exploring Lyrical and Visual Symbolism
    This is America: Exploring Lyrical and Visual Symbolism
    The Power of Social Media; Does It Enhance or Swallow Up Relationships?
    Perfecting the Martial Art
    The Truth About Cats and Artists

    Writing

    Creative Texting: Writing and Textspeak
    Creative Texting: Writing and Textspeak
    Parallel and Alternate Realities; Fiction Tells us the Difference
    Genre Fiction in University Writing Programs: No longer the MFA’s Red-headed Stepchild
    Can you Teach Someone how to Become a Writer?