David Henry Sterry is a screenwriter, novelist, and co-author of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published.
What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?
I train my mind to stop focusing on things I can't control, like why I'm not 6'5" & ridiculously handsome, or why the writer I hate whose books suck is more rich and famous than me, and flip the script or change the channel to the book I'm working on. I imagine the next scene in my head. What it looks like, what it sounds like, what it smells like, what excellent things my hero(ine) will say, how the action will unfold, how it will relate to the scenes before and after, how it will build on the plot and themes, how it will shed new light on my characters. That way when I sit down to write, I already have a wealth of stuff to start with, and I'm not just staring at a blank page/screen.
What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?
We ran a writing workshop where we started each session with a prompt, and read something from one of our favorite books. Here are some of our favorites:
- A supposedly fun thing I'll never do again.
- A horrible thing that happened to me which turned out to be a great thing.
- A bad thing that happened to a good person.
- A good deed for which I was punished.
- Write your own obituary.
What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?
"Stop giving me these bullshit scripts I can't sell!" One of my agents in Hollywood said this to me when I was a screenwriter, I'd rather not say who it was. I used to write a screenplay in a month and think it was brilliant, then give it to my agent. I didn't understand the three most important rules of writing: re-write, re-write, re-write.