BookCon 2017: Destroying the Phenomenon of Writer’s Block

By Rhiannon Levengood

This past weekend, Moments Magazine had the absolute pleasure of attending BookCon 2017 in New York City. BookCon is full to the brim with not only literature in its various forms, wonderful and inspiring panels, and the chance to meet the creators of life-changing stories, but even some fan-made merchandise as well. Guests and exhibitors include new authors just starting out and advertising their brand new baby, and authors who’ve established themselves as a household name. BookCon presents an opportunity to meet your favorite authors, your future favorite authors, and the people who feel the same way about the same books.

What I got out of BookCon 2017 was community (and emotional nostalgia—thanks Bill Nye!). I saw a community of writers and readers and dreamers and people clutching onto hope found between pages of a book they were reading, or a book they were just starting to construct. I found inspiration from others, advice for curing creative blocks, and books. Lots of books.

However, my shiny BookCon moment came Saturday evening as the convention came to a whirlwinding close. It came to me in the form of a panel entitled Transforming a Bestseller onto the Silver Screen: The Book to Film Experience. Guest speakers included R.J. Palacio (Wonder), Nicola Yoon (Everything, Everything), Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall), and the focus of this recount, Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower).

The panel in itself felt more like a writer’s workshop than a discussion of taking a novel and transforming it into a screenplay, and then finally portraying it on the big screen. Many fan questions focused on the process of writing a novel and the process of writing a screenplay, the difference between the two, and which was the most challenging. I’ve never been to college, but I imagined that this was what a lecture felt like.

Wisdom flowed from the mouths of the guest speakers like waterfalls: naturally, rushingly, and mind-alteringly so. I watched, mouth agape, as brilliant minds spoke directly to me in a sea of an audience eager to learn and soak up every word before they left their tongues.

Stephen Chbosky himself had some advice for writers in the form of four steps:

As the panel ended, I felt euphoric and inspired. A smile stretched across my lips that were accustomed to frowning at blank documents and unfinished thoughts. Words clouded my mind and for the first time in awhile, I wanted to get them down on paper. But first, I had to thank the man that motivated me most with his insight. And luckily for me, Stephen Chbosky stayed seated at the table, Sharpie in hand, ready to make dreams come true.

When my turn came, I shamefully explained that I didn’t have my copy of Perks with me for him to sign, but that I wanted to thank him for his wise words. I told him my struggle with writer’s block and praised him for helping me find ways to overcome it.

Stephen prefaced with, “Writer’s block doesn’t exist. Writer’s block is simply editing too quickly.”

If I had to sum up my BookCon experience in one sentence, it’d be: I came with nothing, and I left with everything.

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