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How do you break out of writer's block?
Danielle Poiesz
Posted: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 4:29 PM
I probably have the worst writer's block in the world. I get stuck super easily and then am unable to push through the fear and lack of inspiration to get even a few paragraphs out. The only way I can seem to get around it is to work on something different. But then I can't get motivated to get back to my old piece! As a result, I have about 10 projects that are all in their very early stages and nothing but a few short stories completed. It's so frustrating! The frustration then causes some pretty hefty self-confidence issues when it comes to my writing and the downward spiral continues. Does anyone else have this problem? Or has anyone actually CONQUERED it? I could definitely use some guidance on ways to power through!


Mary Strand
Posted: Thursday, March 3, 2011 11:50 PM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 3


I hate people like me - lol - but I don't get writer's block. The key (for me) in avoiding it is to end each writing day with a glimmer of how I'll start the next day, so I usually write the first sentence of the next scene at the end of each writing day. I find that eating a triple-berry scone at the beginning of each writing day tends to prevent writer's block, too, but they bring with them their own issues.
Danielle Poiesz
Posted: Thursday, March 3, 2011 11:56 PM
wow! You don't get writer's block?? Ever?? I'm impressed! That's a great idea to try starting the next scene so you have a jumping off point the next writing session. I'm definitely going to try that--thank you!
SimonCLarter
Posted: Friday, March 4, 2011 2:19 AM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 2


Are we allowed to mention Hemingway in a genre fiction community? 'Cause he recommended stopping writing for the day halfway through a sentence you already know the end of, so you can start up with some guaranteed words the next day. If we're not allowed to mention Hemingway here, just assume I meant George R.R. Martin.
Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Friday, March 4, 2011 2:31 AM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 356


LOL! Yes, you can mention Hemingway! Besides, I think Hemingway may have been better at keeping to deadlines than GRR Martin. =)
Dan O'Shea
Posted: Friday, March 4, 2011 2:38 AM
Joined: 2/28/2011
Posts: 3


Each of us has however much talent we have -- you're not a good writer one day and then a bad writer the next. So even if what's coming out doesnt' FEEL great, just keep cranking it out. Rarely, if I actually make my self crank out copy, do I not hit my rythm within a few hundred words. And often, once I do, I look back at those first few hundred and find that there was nothing wrong with the words, there was just something wrong with me. I wrote a blog post on writer's block a while back.
Kerry Schafer
Posted: Friday, March 4, 2011 5:39 AM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 25


When I'm blocked there is usually one of two things going on. 1) I actually need to let the story breathe a little bit - my brain hasn't figured out how to approach the scene yet, and I need to take a walk or a shower or even a day off to let it perc. Unfortunately, it's difficult to differentiate this valid pause from 2) the complete crisis of self confidence in which I believe that everything I've ever written is utter garbage and I will never be capable of better. This sort of thinking I hav
Michael R Underwood
Posted: Friday, March 4, 2011 6:33 PM
Joined: 3/3/2011
Posts: 74


Whenever I get blocked on one project, I pull out another project and put some time into it, hoping that the sheer act of creation (even if on another work) will help me mentally or emotionally work through the block. I also use music as a Muse-enabler for most all of my writing.
Kerry Schafer
Posted: Friday, March 4, 2011 9:14 PM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 25


I like the idea of working on another project to keep the creativity going. As I think about it, that might be my current problem. I'm trying to focus on one thing with the goal of completion stretching way down the road, and my brain doesn't work that way. I am a plate spinner by nature. As it so happens - I have another project that could use some attention. : )
Mahesh Raj Mohan
Posted: Saturday, March 5, 2011 12:33 AM
Joined: 2/28/2011
Posts: 68


I get paralyzed by writer's block all the time, too. Simon and Mary's advice has helped me through it in the past, but, man, it can be crushing for the reasons that Danielle mentioned. I used to give myself a minimum of what I would do (varying from a page to a certain word count) no matter how I felt about the quality (as Dan mentioned). But these days, the halting in mid-thought/paragraph probably would help me a lot.
Eliza
Posted: Sunday, March 6, 2011 12:19 AM
Joined: 3/3/2011
Posts: 15


Well, I'm hardly one to talk, since my writer's block for fiction is now pushing 5 years, though I'm writing a lot for the day job. But the best thing for me is not to think, just write. And the most helpful method I've ever been taught is setting a goal so low you can't possibly fail at it. So tell yourself you're going to write 25 words each and every day on a primary project. With that parameter, I don't believe I have ever written less than 100 words, and I've been known to go up to about 50
Ellie Isis
Posted: Sunday, March 6, 2011 4:02 PM
Joined: 3/4/2011
Posts: 60


I also don't tend toward writers block. Like one of the other posters said, I push through it, giving myself permission to write utter CRAP if that's all I can produce at that time. Within a page or so, I pick up the flow again, and I'm off and running. And when I go back and read the crap, it often isn't really crappy after all. My mentor also suggested that if you are well and truly stuck, you might be trying to tell a scene from the wrong character's point of view. Try rewriting from another
Tim Johnson
Posted: Monday, March 7, 2011 5:09 PM
Joined: 3/7/2011
Posts: 15


Typically for me, writers block is telling me that I'm away from my outline. For me, using the Hemingway trick of leaving the sentence unfinished doesn't work for. If I stop mid-sentence and never close the line, I'm worthless the rest of the day. I'll be spouting the rest of the sentence to the guy at the grocery store... and telling people 'he said' every time they ask me if I want cream in my coffee. The closure I get from my writing process is almost medicinal at this point. But that is
LAStarkey
Posted: Monday, March 7, 2011 10:32 PM
Joined: 3/7/2011
Posts: 2


I listen to music - go outside - something that breaks me away from the computer screen. Oh - or being somewhere that I can't write always works too, like in the car. I've almost wrecked several times!
KariWolfe
Posted: Thursday, March 10, 2011 10:41 PM
Joined: 3/10/2011
Posts: 5


Danielle, that is so me. I've tried going to a writer's group where you write for small spurts of time on different prompts and I feel like I've got just enough for each time frame--but any longer and I freeze. My writer's block typically stems from lack of confidence in my writing. And confidence only comes if you actually write. It's one big circle. What I seem to like is timing myself: writing for 5 minutes. And then for 10 minutes. The accomplishment of making it for those few short minutes really helps.
MarieDees
Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2011 2:28 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157


What is the bad thing that will happen if you don't break out of your writer's block?

What is the good thing that will happen if you keep writing?

I don't have writer's block because I can't have writer's block. I write/edit for a living -- non-fiction during the day, fiction at night. I go to work every day knowing I have to complete specific articles and assignments or I won't get paid. And if I don't get paid, I can't pay the bills. So I'm used to sitting down and writing when I don't feel like it and even when the subject may not be of particular interest to me. Part of getting through writer's block is just the discipline to write instead of doing something else.

Now with fiction, writer's block is sometimes more "Plot block." That's when I'd be perfectly happy working on a story but I can't figure out what comes next. Or perhaps I know what comes next but not how to get there from the scene I'm currently in. I have a handful of techniques to deal with that. Sometimes I just start writing and see that leads anywhere. Or I switch to another project for a bit. Or even go take a walk or work in the garden.

Also, sometimes just setting some structure around the day so you have a special time and place to write can help for some. I've known moms where when we diagnosis the problem it really turns out to be a case of "I have no time or place to myself and feel guilty telling my family I need them to leave me alone for a while." Setting a schedule to allow for that alone time can do the trick.
KD Sarge
Posted: Saturday, March 12, 2011 4:43 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 16


You said you get stuck, or lack of inspiration stops you. Here's what helps me when that happens.

Open a new document. Start typing. Converse with yourself, your muses, write actual prose, whatever. It's an unsaved document; it doesn't matter what you type here.

"Okay, dang it, I need this to happen and it's not going. I meant for Taro to just do it, but it would come out of the blue. How else could it happen? Well, Rafe could say this, but Rafe never would. Or Taro could do that, but that leads off on a tangent. What if Keen says it? Yes, Keen would say it. And then if D'Leo interrupts so the caveat never gets said, Taro doesn't know, and he'll walk right into it."

When I get stuck, I often find that taking off the pressure of all the manuscript that came before helps.
Syd Gill
Posted: Sunday, March 13, 2011 8:56 PM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 3


All these tips are great! Leaving a sentence unfinished, setting smaller word goals, allowing yourself to write crap, writing out thoughts in another document, taking a walk/break. I think I'll try them all!

@MarieDees I think you bring up a good point about the different types of writers block. As an unpublished author, I don't make money writing. As a result I've often felt guilty for spending time writing. When real life stress/worry hits, I have the hardest time writing. As if worrying is so much more productive than writing!

I now have a manuscript that is 70% done and the 30% is overwhelming me because I've had so much time to think about it and flesh it out in my head. When I sit down to write, my brain is going a mile/minute but my fingers are moving so slowly!

I read once that Rachel Vincent writes in layers. So the first layer is the framework of the scene, basically. That way you can get a lot done fairly quickly. I think her first draft or first layer of a whole book is about 60-70K words and can be written in weeks. Then she goes back in and starts fleshing out the scenes.

Writing styles differ from person to person, but I think I need employ her method. I think I would feel better if I could get the basics all out there for the rest of the book. Then go back in and add in the details.

I'll let you all know how it goes! Yesterday I only managed to write 72 words. LOL!
MarieDees
Posted: Sunday, March 13, 2011 11:10 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157


I write in layers too and find it helps. I don't outline, but my first rough draft can be very rough since I'm working to sketch out the major action and lay out the main scenes. During that first draft, I don't worry about figuring out every detail. I'm working on a rough right now. I know there's a scene at the lighthouse and another at the fort. At the fort, something happens that sends one character to talk to a certain character. Eventually I have to get 2 MCs back to the lighthouse for a climatic scene. I'm not stressing over details yet. Just getting the characters and the conflicts in order. Once the main critical scenes are in place, building the rest of the layers seems less intimidating.

But sometimes the crucial point is giving yourself permission to write. Other people aren't always encouraging. I've had people flat out tell me most writers don't get published and perhaps I shouldn't waste to much time on it -- and that's even with published books out. Set goals for your writing, but not big goals that loom in the distance and scare you. Goals like -- From 9pm to 10pm I will take time to work on the novel. Be firm about this with others or you won't believe yourself when you tell yourself writing is important to you.
Marcie
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2011 3:33 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 103


I don't suffer from writers block. I think it's because I have more stories to tell than I have time to write. At any one time I have at least four projects on the go at different stages. I have one complete project that I'm submitting to contests or sending out queries for, one in the re-write stage, one I'm writing the first draft for, and one in the planning stage. On top of that I do writing exercises and homework assignments with my critique group, I critique other people's work, and I read published works. With all those things on the go, I've yet to go even one day without something to add to one of my projects. Plus, if all else fails, a long hot shower breeds genius.
Chumplet
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2011 6:16 PM
When I first started writing, I had two fully formed stories already in my head. It was easy to block the outside world and hit the keyboard.

I let the words flow and take me wherever they wanted to go, and later went over the manuscripts with my critique partners.

Then I pitched an idea to a new erotic romance e-pub. They liked it and asked for chapters. I whipped up a few and sent them along. When they contracted me based on the partial, I was shocked, but felt up to the task.

I received a deadline and got to work. The fire under my butt was the publisher waiting for the final manuscript. The words flew. For a while.

Then my nephew went missing, sparking a media explosion about online gaming and rebellious teenagers. As I tried to meet deadline, my mind was filled with conflicting thoughts. But I pressed on, working late into the nights.

When my nephew was found dead due to a tragic accident (falling out of a tree), I didn't think I could go on with my erotic romance. It all felt so wrong. But I kept at it because I had a commitment to the publisher.

The result wasn't what I had hoped, and the book didn't exactly fly off the virtual shelves. I felt I could have done better if the circumstances were different. I don't know if this was true or if I was looking for an excuse.

Now I write with no deadline, no sense of urgency except perhaps the roof that needs replacing. All was rosy until I started crafting new stories, where I didn't know the ending.

As a certified pantster, I found myself second-guessing every sentence and self-editing as I went. I tinkered and fiddled, then avoided like crazy. I found it too easy to put the writing aside so I could interact with other writers.

My confidence is shaken and I need another kick in the butt. Is this writer's block? Perhaps.

That's why I'm here.
JulieOversen
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2011 8:22 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 4


I seldom get writer's block, but I've been writing for a magazine for almost twenty years. As my editor told me when I started, "We have a magazine to get out every week. Sometimes you'll have twenty stories to do in three days, so you don't have time to wait on the muse. Just write."

If I'm at a point where I'm not sure how to untangle a plot knot, though, I have a few tricks. I think about the scene before I go to sleep. I can usually dream the solution. I just make sure it isn't a gruesome scene because my dreams are pretty vivid and I usually wind up being the one killed.

I listen to music that evokes a mood for the scene. I listened to Garry Owens several times in both traditional and marching band versions. It crystallized the scene for me and introduce a new secondary character who added a lot of depth.

I always have more than one project going. If I'm really stuck on something, I work on another and let the problem child chill in the corner until everything comes unstuck. It's usually while I'm zipping along on the alternate story that the "aha!" moment comes.
Alexander Hollins
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2011 8:35 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 415


I start working on a different project.

Okay, so I have 43 different projects started, and none truly finished. Your point?

Seriously though, if i want to stay on the same project, I start writing a different scene. writing how things happen LATER often tells me what needs to be happening NOW, and gets me past it.
MarieDees
Posted: Monday, March 14, 2011 11:06 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157


Hi Chumplet,

There's writer's block and there's just honestly needing time to grieve and recover. I went through it last year. My mother went through what was honestly too short a battle with cancer. We lost her in September, just a year after the first diagnosis. I tried to keep going as if things were normal. But I was more exhausted than I wanted to admit. I'd just had a novel accepted so I had to get through edits on that. Fortunately those were fairly minimal. I made it to November before I realized I needed to give myself a break. In addition to the day job, I also edit for a small press (Mundania). I contacted them and said I needed to take a break from assignments until at least January. Then I took as much vacation time as I could from the day job. I wrote -- because I love to write, but not to a schedule. Then I began working my way back to my schedule. I still have times when I just need to take a short break or get out of the house. Take care of yourself first.
NatalieCeleste
Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 8:45 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 24


I have to admit: I totally understand where you're coming from. I usually get so easily distracted from what I'm writing that I lose motivation. In turn, I hit a roadblock. How I usually deal with it? I freewrite. I go on my blog and rant or I respond to people on Twitter that'll never reply back, or I write nonstop with no thought...by the time I'm done, I've gotten out of my writer's rut that my story sort of starts coming back to me...I remember why I'm writing it and why it means so much to me.
RJBlain
Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 1:32 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 224


Greetings, folks

I don't often get stuck by writer's block. I used to, however.

This is what I did to get out of the habit of writing blocks. (And yes, I call it a habit for a reason, I'll explain in a bit.)

Writing is like taking care of your body. If I want to be healthy at writing, I need a good diet (of reading) and good exercise (being the writing.) These two factors are very important to me for two reasons:

First, if I am not reading, I am not exercising my imagination. My imagination gets a healthy dose of exercise by trying to put the words to images. I do more than just read the words on the page. I try to get a solid image. This also lets me follow what is going on in my genre (traditional fantasy.)

Second, writing is like playing a sport. If you don't practice, you don't get good at it. The more you practice, the easier it is to understand just how you write and how to avoid writer's block.

I call writer's block a habit because in my case, it is. If I dig myself into a hole and have a hard time writing, I find every time I sit down,I have a hard time writing. This becomes a vicious little circle that prevents productivity.

This is why it is *vital* that I sit down and try to write every day. I put something -- anything -- down on the paper, that way, when I have a hard section to write, I approach it with the habit of getting SOMETHING down.

I don't object to erasing and revising, but the key for me is doing it even if I don't feel like it. When I feel like writer's block is coming on, the habit of writing overrides the habit of procrastination and writer's block.

If I get really stuck on a scene, I write complete crap on purpose, flag it with ##EDIT and move on. I don't let myself sit and do nothing. Even if I'm not satisfied with the end result, at least I will have gotten something down on my page.

That is how I do it -- hope this helps those of you who do have writer's block.

(P.S.: It took me about five years to get out of the habit of writer's block.)
Robert C Roman
Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 3:50 PM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 384


Some really good replies here. One thing I can say with confidence is that there is no single method that will work for everyone every time. That said, the fix for the block has to do with the reason for the block.

In my case, I've found three different major reasons for block. One is when I'm writing some piece of my story where I didn't do flesh out the background fully. When I go in and work out the background details, whether they're related to character, backstory, or even the setting, the block goes away.

Another type of block is when I've wandered from the outline. The outline is in my head, and changes now and then as inspiration strikes, but that doesn't mean I can keep writing when it changes. If it *has* changed, I have to go back and update it. When the update is in place, the block goes away.

The final type of block I face is when I get another story stuck in my head. Luckily, that kind of story is usually a short, but when it happens all that I can do is sit down, hammer the short onto the page, and then get back to writing what I meant to write.

On a completely different note, I've noticed I only have a certain number of words in me a day. If I do a bunch of blog posting, thread commenting, or even writing up grading commentary, I've got less words available for new writing. Of course, I can still edit on those days, and I do so whenever I run out of words.

Hope one of those is helpful to someone!
Scarlet Young
Posted: Tuesday, March 15, 2011 10:25 PM
Joined: 3/15/2011
Posts: 2


ugh. Writer's Block.

I remember seeing t-shirts for it once. No joke.

I agree with you, Robert, especially on your second point. I find that when I'm stuck, it's because I've painted/written myself into a corner and something is 'off'.

I try to go back over what I've last written, and decide whether or not it's necessary to the plot line. Or if I've written the story into a scenario that just doesn't fit.

Sometimes deleting and cutting the dead weight brings me back on point.
NoellePierce
Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 12:41 PM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 138


I agree with Scarlet and Robert - my blocks come from trying to do something that isn't working. Sometimes it's because I'm trying to get my characters to do something they don't want to do (stubborn little buggers), sometimes it's because I'm distracted by other things, and sometimes I just need a break. I have to be careful not to let those breaks get out of hand, though.

Some things I've done to break writer's block is drinking a glass of wine and opening Write or Die (writeordie.com) on Kamikaze mode. And yes, it has to be Kamikaze mode, because this mode will eat your words if you don't keep typing. No time to think with this mode. Type, or the words will disappear. 'Tis very motivating. This works better if I'm doing a word war with someone and therefore will be held method accountable at the end of the agreed upon time. Otherwise, it's getting easy to just hit "Done" with whatever meager words I've done.

I'm a mix between plotser and pantser--I plot the main scenes with a 1-2 sentence description, but I let my characters have free reign when it comes to getting to those scenes. They occasionally add stuff I didn't plan, which is okay, because it's more organic. With my first book, if I couldn't figure out how they got to Plot Point E from Plot Point D, I'd get stuck. However, in my last story and the one I'm writing now, when I get stuck or can't make the transition, I just jump to the next chronological scene with the rationale that I can add the transition in edits. Or as a chapter break. Either way, I start writing the next scene.

Finally, I take the advice (I've seen it so much, I'm not even sure who said it): "Give yourself permission to write crap." I ignore the sentences starting with pronouns. I ignore the excess adverbs. I ignore the sentences that are choppy and all the same rhythm. All that can be fixed in edits. That glass of wine helps turn off the inner editor.
JK Bradley
Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 3:25 PM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 2


Have you ever tried to journal your way through the block?

Not my idea, but Julia Cameron's ("The Artist's Way").

Or try taking a long, twisting and turning, rising and jogging, scamper through the woods and explore. Oh, and bring a snack.
cameronchapman
Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 5:57 PM
Joined: 3/14/2011
Posts: 51


I rarely get complete writer's block, because writing is my day job. I have to write, or the bills don't get paid. And I have a pretty high work load when it comes to the non-fiction writing I do (sometimes writing and editing 10,000+ words in a 5-day work week).

Fiction is a slightly different story, though. I've found that my stress levels have a direct role in how much I'm able to write. If I'm stressed out, I can't write at all sometimes. I had a few years where my day job was very stressful, with tight deadlines, etc., and I wrote practically nothing. Once I got done with that job, I started writing fiction again.

At the moment, I'm under tight deadlines for a non-fiction book, so my fiction is taking a bit of a backseat. It's not really writer's block, but only because I know I just don't have time to work on much fiction at the moment, so I'm not really trying.

When I do get blocked, the solution I've found is to write nothing (or no fiction, at least) for a few days. By the time I let myself get back to it, I'm usually bursting at the seams with ideas and have no problems after that. It also usually gives me time to lower my stress levels, which helps a lot.
Suzan Isik
Posted: Wednesday, March 16, 2011 11:36 PM
Joined: 3/7/2011
Posts: 13


I have two things I do when the writing trickles and won't fix itself.

One, I'll find a way to make something explode because the thrill of writing the explosion and figuring out why it happened and where it fits in makes my writing flow again.

I'll also will make the project I'm working on jealous by pulling out another project. That one works really well, because within about five minutes i have to switch back because I got the most Terrific Idea Ever for it.
Alexander Hollins
Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2011 11:13 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 415


I have found the cure for writers block! The link is slighty not safe for work in an artistic way. The rest of the website it's on is VERY not safe for work.

http://www.oglaf.com/blank-page/1/
Danielle Bowers
Posted: Saturday, March 19, 2011 12:40 AM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 267


Alexander, that made me laugh. Thanks for the link.

When I get stuck on a story I have a routine I go through that helps...

1. Stare at the screen and curse.

2. Play solitaire on the computer for a few hours and ponder the story.

3. Do research. I usually have something that needs research, doing this can lead to ideas.

4. Read the last chapter and figure out how in the hell I painted myself into a corner.

5. Throw some poo into the fan. This is what I call my last ditch effort to rescue the story as it stands. Add something...a new character, someone running through the room and impaling themselves with scissors. This isn't as crazy as it sounds. Tolkien added the character Strider/Aragorn to the Lord of the Rings this way and look how THAT story turned out.

6. If nothing else helps kill the most lovable person in your story. You don't have to keep that in of course, but actually writing something is more productive than steps 1 and 2.
Tori Schindler
Posted: Sunday, March 20, 2011 6:43 AM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 41


When I get stuck, I try a few different things depending on the reason/how bad it is. First I skip ahead in the same book and try to just write something else. There's no rule that says a book has to be written in order. If it's worse than that, I move to a different book. I have a few at different levels of completion at any given time. I just rotate through them. Write in one until I tap out, then move on to another. If I'm blocked to a point I can't seem to write anything, it means it's time to edit. When I finish something, I set it aside for awhile before the first rewrite, then set aside again for awhile before the second. there's usually something to be edited. That way I stay productive even if I'm not actively writing.
SunnySoCal
Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 5:38 PM
Joined: 3/17/2011
Posts: 7


Yes, I've had the problem. It was usually stress related. My ability to soak up stress messes with my writing and painting. I need to be at peace to do them well, not spazzing about issues that are outside my sphere of control. What I learned was that regular cardiovascular exercise helps. It gets my blood oxygenated and puts me in a better frame of mind. If I can't jump immediately back into my current favorite manuscript, I jump back into one of the other two that are started. It mixes things up a bit. Once the writing starts flowing, I pick up where I left off.
LisaMarie
Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 11:53 PM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 220


I equate writer’s block with physical exhaustion. Whenever you overexert yourself at the gym and work out way too hard, professionals tell you to take it easy for the next couple of days before getting back on the treadmill or free weights or whatever. I think it’s the same for writing. If you’re feeling mentally exhausted, nothing good can come of it. You might write dreck. For me, it probably doesn’t help that I have to write for a living … and then when I’m through with work, I write some more! ☺

One trick that works for me is simply to write when I feel inspired, even if it means canceling a social engagement or working late into the morning. I can’t know when the muse will whisper in my ear next or when I’ll get a sudden burst of inspiration.

Linna Lee
Posted: Thursday, March 31, 2011 11:08 PM
Joined: 3/31/2011
Posts: 5


My old trick with writer's block was to work on something else for a while. That still works, but I was getting frustrated by how little progress I was making on each story. I also used to surf around Wikipedia or Encyclopedia Mythica, and something would usually inspire me.

My new tactic is to step away from the laptop and write a letter or postcard to a friend. I'll write about what I'm doing, what I'm looking forward to, the fact that I've hit a rut in my story. Stamping and sealing the envelope makes me feel like I've accomplished/completed something! Plus, it's a nice breather, and it helps to put my ambitions for the story down on paper; it usually serves to reorient me.
WenSpencer
Posted: Sunday, April 3, 2011 5:14 AM
Joined: 4/2/2011
Posts: 5


Nothing like getting writer's block when you have a deadline.

One thing to know that you have to keep pushing on even if you're bored or even loathe the story. I haven't finished a novel yet where I didn't hate it -- until it hit the bookstore, then I went back to liking it again.

Some of the things that work for me when I'm stuck:

The biggest pad of paper that I can find -- 12 inches by 22 inches or bigger -- and a dozen color pens. I write out various POV and story threads in different colors.

Calling a friend and trying to explain the plot line to them and why their suggestions couldn't possibly work. (My friends are priceless for putting up with this.)

Blogging a stream of consciousness of what I've written and what I think I need to write to get to the end.

Rethink the last thing I had my characters do. It's common for me to discover I can't write the next planned scene because I made a misstep in logic in a previous scene and the next scene would be totally illogical.

Reading through what I have done, doing only line editing, and then immediately starting into the next scene when done. Its a good way to start a day.

I'm not a linear thinker, so I often jump forward in the story and write an interesting scene and then deciding what I need to write to get to that point. A friend calls them "Candy Bar" scenes.

Naps, hot baths and sushi does wonders for my creativity. It's like taking my muse out for an expensive date and then forcing her to put out.

If none of those work, go crazy and try anything. I once got unstuck by taping ship names to chairs and moving them around a room to figure out motivations/logic of characters sailing here and there on a water world.
Sinnie Ellis
Posted: Sunday, April 3, 2011 7:14 PM
Joined: 4/3/2011
Posts: 67


I don't get writers block because I don't get the chance to. I write upwards of three books at the same time. I am currently writing book 2 of my detective series, a scifi novel and a paranormal YA novel. There is always an idea floating about that finds a home.

ANR
Alexander Hollins
Posted: Monday, April 4, 2011 7:41 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 415


Oh, I have a friend, his best cure for writers block is to call me on the phone, talk to me. Then again, I'm really good at asking the next question, prompting him along the path he needs to think through, but still, just talking the idea through with someone can help you find and fix where you are stuck.
Molly McGee
Posted: Monday, April 4, 2011 8:51 PM
Joined: 4/1/2011
Posts: 4


Whenever I get stuck or get that "I have no idea what to write here" feeling, I write a short backstory or side-story for the characters - something that takes place outside the current plot. Not only does it help me get a better insight on my characters, but it keeps me from starting new projects.
LauraKCurtis
Posted: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 1:42 AM
Joined: 4/3/2011
Posts: 21


At night as I lie in bed, I try to plan the next scene of my work in progress. Sometimes, that doesn't work and I am still facing a rough spot. If at all possible, I skip that spot and move to what I think will happen next, so my MS has a bunch of FINISH THIS SCENE things in it as I move along, but I can usually fill those in once I get some distance from it.

The other thing I do is switch media. If I am writing on my comptuer and can't figure out what happens next, I print out the last page I've written, then take out my fountain pens and set to work. I often find that loosens up my creativity again.
CaseyGoodrow
Posted: Sunday, April 10, 2011 8:28 PM
Joined: 3/31/2011
Posts: 11


I think, after reading many of the posts in this thread, we do ourselves a great disservice when we refer to our various blockers as a singular kind of writer's block. Lumping all of these different reasons for blockage together hinders us from actually treating the symptoms individually and moving on, if that makes sense?

If I reach a point that I just can't figure out how to move on, it's usually because I wrote myself into a corner that I am totally and completely rejecting. That's not to say that this is the only way that an individual can be blocked, it's just how I get blocked, and the way I unblock myself is to examine and rewrite the previous scene.

I know people have suggested having other projects to work on when you are blocked on one. I'm not sure how I feel about that. You should never drop a project if you are feeling blocked, you can't give up on it, you have to figure out what's blocking you and power through it.

People can get blocked for lots of reasons, and it's very important to find out what is stopping you from moving forward. Fear of writing terrible, too many distractions around the house, procrastination, stresses in life, plot issues; whatever the issue, if you can pinpoint it you can fix it. At least, that's my present theory, from a non-blocked state of mind. Maybe I'll post again when I'm feeling blocked and I'll have a completely different perspective, lol
Dreamer
Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 1:05 PM
Joined: 4/29/2011
Posts: 2


I posted on another thread in this forum about regularly freewriting every morning to start unblocking creativity. But then I thought this thread might be more relevant.

Morning Pages: An Experiment - the info below was copied by me from an article written by Jennifer Blanchard in procrastinatingwritersblog

Interested in Morning Pages? Here are the details:

Morning Pages are three handwritten, stream-of-consciousness pages that you write every day, as soon as you wake up, before you do anything else.

What that means is, every morning, as soon as you wake up, you pull out your notebook and write your Morning Pages: “I just woke up. My head hurts. I need some coffee. I want to go back to sleep. Did I finish that blog post last night? I think I did, but I can’t remember. Oh and did I take the garbage out?”… You get the picture.

Write whatever comes to your head. Doesn’t matter what it is. Complain, talk about the dream you just had, write down everything you have to do that day—write anything.

After you finish writing your Morning Pages, put your notebook away and get on with your day.

There is no right or wrong way to write Morning Pages, and there are only have three rules:

No Judgment—You’re writing these pages stream-of-consciousness. That means you think it, you write it down. Doesn’t matter what you write, just write it. Don’t look back; don’t stop to think about what you’re writing.
No Restraint—Morning Pages are meant to be writing your thoughts, without retraining yourself. Write down whatever thoughts you have. Keep the flow going. And don’t hold back. Ever.

Don’t Stop Writing—Every morning, put your pen on the paper and don’t pick it up until you’ve finished three pages. And write them every day. Consistency is key to results.

And don’t worry, these pages are just for your eyes. You don’t show them to anyone else. No one sees them, but you.

Morning Pages Tips
Before you get started with your Morning Pages, here are some important things to know:

Weekends will be harder than weekdays—My weekdays are pretty structured; I get up at the same time, I go to work at the same time. But on the weekends, I sleep in, which caused me to forget about my Pages. (I did still write them, but after I put my contacts in and took the dog out, not right when I woke up).

You’ll need to remind yourself—Until Morning Pages become a habit for you (which usually takes about 30 to 60 days), you will need a reminder so you write them consistently. What’s been effective for me is a Post-It on my bathroom mirror that says, “Morning Pages.”

If you draw a blank, write about it—Sometimes during stream-of-consciousness writing you can lose track of your thought. If this happens, use it. Just write, “I don’t know what to write,” over and over again until another thought comes to you. Or you can write about not having anything to write about.

Try your very best to write them as soon as you get up—Yes, it can be hard to do this, but you will get the best results this way. I found on the days that I did something else before writing my Morning Pages that it was more difficult for me to write them. I wasn’t as stream-of-consciousness as I would’ve been if I had just woken up. Now I don’t even put my contacts in, I just sit down and write.

Dreamer
Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 9:29 PM
Joined: 4/29/2011
Posts: 2


This morning I started my experiment with 3 pages of free writing before getting out of of bed (see my previous post above).

When I woke up my immediate thought was that I really didn't feel like doing it. But I started writing. Mostly boring stuff. By the end of the third page I was jotting down my thoughts about a piece of flash I really wanted to finish but have been stuck on. I made a decision this morning about what I want to focus on in this flash. That was pretty exciting. I also felt great when I saw I'd written 3 whole pages - I'd met a 'deadline' :]

So I'm planning to keep doing Morning Pages and see if this works to unblock me.

Would be interested in hearing from anyone else who wants to experiment with Morning Pages.
Francine Saint Marie
Posted: Saturday, May 14, 2011 1:04 PM
Joined: 5/4/2011
Posts: 4


A good trick for overcoming writer's block: EDIT, EDIT, EDIT.

Either your own manuscript or that of a peer's. If you're correcting the actual word doc. start out by clicking Spellcheck for those easier-to-find errors. After that, peruse the document for common mistakes throughout that Spellcheck generally overlooks, such as that erroneous 'there' when you meant 'their' or 'your' when you meant 'you're'...etc.

I've found that this otherwise tedious but necessary activity usually gets the juices flowing again, not to mention what it does for beautifying the manuscript itself!

FSM




Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Wednesday, June 20, 2012 9:53 AM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 356


Bumping up for new members.

Sneaky Burrito
Posted: Saturday, August 4, 2012 10:01 AM
Joined: 5/28/2012
Posts: 43


So far I also haven't gotten writer's block.  I think there are a couple of reasons for this:

(1) I outline.  So I always know where the story is going.  This isn't to say that I avoid detours if I get a good idea while writing.  But if I get stuck even for ten seconds, well, I know where I need to be going.  On the first draft, it might mean writing something that's not very good.  It might mean telling instead of showing, with a goal of revising or fleshing out the scene later.  But it's words on the page.

(2) I write the first draft longhand in spiral notebooks.  While you may not classify the desire to edit as writer's block, I find that if I am typing instead of writing, it is SO easy to look at the half-page or so above and fiddle with it.  While it may seem like working, it has the same effect as writer's block, because the manuscript isn't getting any longer.  (If you have trouble with distractions like the internet, writing longhand means the computer can be off or the laptop shut.)

(3) This one can be difficult, but I've seen others mention it in this thread -- give yourself permission to write crap if you have to.  If it gets your characters from point A to point B, you can revise it later.  You don't actually have to SHOW anyone your work unless you want to.  The bad scenes may plague you, like they do me, in your waking life.  By the time you get around to revision, you may well have the perfect solution.

MariAdkins
Posted: Wednesday, August 8, 2012 8:44 PM
I write completely out of order. If i get stuck, I make a note, and move on. Or back. Or sideways. Or whatever.
 

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