More than a writing block

Ah, the writing block. The arch nemesis of writers everywhere. So evil, so…block-y.

So...awkward...

The trouble with writer’s block is it’s different every single time and what works once probably won’t work a second time.

Now, one thing I hear a lot is that you don’t see someone who builds bridges for a living come home, throw his (or her) hands in the air and collapse into the couch to dramatically sigh, ‘Honey, I’ve got bridge block. I can’t build another bridge even if my life depended on it.’ That’s about the time ‘Honey’ a 6’5″ burly biker comes to beat the ever loving ‘block’ right out of the poor bridge builder cause they got bills to pay! True enough. But, do you think that bridge builder has days where he/she comes home and stares into space for hours, exhausted, brain-drained and not able to concentrate on anything?

Sometimes writer’s block isn’t so much a block as it is an overflowing of ideas that come so fast you’re drowning in them. That’s where I am right now. I’ve started the same short story no less than seven times in seven different ways because after I get about 500 words in, my brain suddenly says ‘Wait, wait, wait. This idea sucks. But this new idea? This one is GOLD. GOLD AND MAGIC.’

And off I go into the golden magic land which turns out to be nothing but a lie and then I’m back at square one. Eventually I get so frazzled I don’t trust any of my own ideas; I start to doubt all of them.

Then there’s the opposite, which I like to call total meltdown. That’s the one where you sit and stare at that blank word document and suddenly all of your hopes and dreams are crashing down around you because for the life of you, you cannot think of one thing to write. It’s like your mind has suddenly morphed into the Artic tundra and there is no life to be found.

Only pain and cold.

So, what do you do? Well, like I said previously each writer’s block is usually its own creature so it takes a different method so I’m just going to toss up some that I’ve tried.

  • Write something totally different.

So you’re working on an epic sci-fi opera? Write an essay about that time your brother punched you FOR NO GOOD REASON. Try writing something out of your comfort zone, nonfiction can be especially helpful because you already have the story and usually you have some kind of emotional investment in it.

  • Take a shower/hot bath.

Sometimes when I get really stuck or overwhelmed I like to go take a hot shower. Showers are where I do some of my best thinking and they can really help clear my head.

  • Take an hour of total silence.

No, I don’t mean go take a nap or watch TV. I mean really take an hour to breath deeply and try to calm yourself down.

  • Read something that inspires you.

You know the book that always amazes you? The one that you’ve read 18 times already? Read that book, realx in someone else’s words and let your own brain relax.

  • Take a nap.

Yep. Simple enough.

  • Use a writing prompt.

And cause I’m feeling generous, here’s one you can have at: There’s a wedding cake in the middle of the road.

  • Take a break.

Sometimes you really do just need to step back from your writing for a little while, maybe a week at most.

So, what do you do to fight the evils of the writing block?

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6 Comments »

  1. Laura Said:

    Planning can help your kind of writing block. Maybe you could plot out each idea/variation as it comes and then decide which one you like best. If it makes you feel any better, Chopin (the famous composer) had 3 or so versions of some of his works. A nightmare for the people who have to edit the standard/international version, but hey, it worked for him. 🙂

    • Plotting does help but then sometimes the block will run over into even plotting something out. I’ve always leaned a bit more to the winging side of writing but I’m slowly getting more plotting vices.

  2. u.v.ray Said:

    All those solutions and you never mentioned…. WHISKEY!

    One realisation I had quite recently was that I don’t even have to like my stories. Writer’s block is rather like being a control freak. The story is going off in a direction we don’t like. It wasn’t what we had in mind, so we try to knock it back in line. However, I’ve learned to allow the story to go its own way, whether I like it or not.

    My only duty is to write the story well. It’s like being a medium. The one thing I think a writer needs to develop is an ability to view their work with an objective eye – very difficult. But essential. This is what has worked for me.

    • GAH!! How could I forget booze? What kind of writer am I? I’ll go hand my head in shame for a few moments…

      Okay, back from my moment of shame. I like the idea of seeing writer’s block as a control freak issue. I think a lot of times that is totally true. The panic of the story veering into new territory leaves us frozen and not wanting to write anymore.

      Viewing your work with an objective is a critical skill for a writer, you have to be able to say ‘Oh, this isn’t work. DELETE, DELETE, DELETE.’ even if it’s taken you weeks of time to get that scene written.

  3. Exercise!

    I can’t say I’ve had any serious cases of Writer’s Block, but I find that after exercising (whether at the gym or after a bout of DDR) my head is filled with story ideas.

    • Oh, I can’t believe I didn’t put exercise on here! Going on walks with my doggies is one way I do get my ideas flowing again.

      And DDR fixes everything.


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