David Yoo is the author of several YA novels including Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before, and the essay collection The Choke Artist: Confessions from a Chronic Underachiever.
What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?
1.) I curse myself out for being a bum/failure/whiny baby/letdown for a few minutes.
2.) Then I step away from the computer or the notebook I’m writing in and do something completely different: play drums, or guitar, juggle a soccer ball in the yard, something physical or at least requires coordination.
3.) Then for a few minutes I curse myself out for playing drums or messing around with the soccer ball outside instead of writing. After which I return to my desk and I usually am able to write.
The key for me, basically, is to reset, rather than torture myself without breathing. The cursing helps a lot, too.
What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?
At first I would make these lists in effort to remember my past, but now I do it because I’m always surprised by the results. Usually there are some startling discoveries (eg: Really, the 8th most important person in my life these days is my mailman?). And it’s informative, even therapeutic, to compare the same list from today with the one you wrote six months ago, and it can be stunning how different the results are. (Really, the mailman?)
What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?
I like this idea of a big spill because, frankly, I often don’t know what my story’s about no matter how much I address the plot while brainstorming, and it’s only once I’ve finished a crappy rough draft that I start figuring out what it’s about. So with rough drafts I don’t necessarily rush, but I’m definitely eager as hell to finish it as soon as possible. Okay, maybe I rush a little.