Writer's Block

The writing process, writing advice, and updates on your work in progress
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tabwriter
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by tabwriter » December 22nd, 2009, 10:49 pm

poptart wrote:l don't get blocked any more, not since I learned that the first draft is meant to be shit, so get it written and don't worry about getting it right. When you go back to it later you will know how to fix it.
Same here. I don't worry about quality in my early drafts, because that can always be fixed after I have a good, strong foundation.

However, I will sometimes get writer's block in my pre-writing/planning stages...if that makes any sense. :) I'm experiencing this with one of my WIPs. I have the MC, the villain, and the setting, but I can't for the life of me figure out how their conflict needs to resolve.

When this happens, I will talk to trusted writers, talk to myself (you'd be surprised how well this works), and do some kind of exercise. Walks usually work the best.

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Crystal
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Crystal » December 22nd, 2009, 11:39 pm

I am just hear to report that I have made it through my first real bought with "the block" :)

I was absolutely stuck on chapter 6 and after some thought and a lot of re-reading 1-5 it became very apparent that chapter 5 was the problem, not 6. So I sat and worked through 5's problems. As soon as I was done with that 6 started flowing like a waterfall. :)
Working my very first attempt at a mystery novel. 1st draft

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Bryan Russell/Ink
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » December 22nd, 2009, 11:46 pm

I have a feeling that Writer's Block doesn't exist. Which is not to say that writers don't get blogged... but just that writers get blocked for thousands of different reasons, both personal and technical. But we like to clump things together. It all goes into "Writer's Block", and ol' WB grows and grows and grows beyond itself. It becomes the Monster in the Closet. Heck, the Monster Jumping Up and Down on the Bed. I think that's dangerous, though, that sense of determining "I have Writer's Block!" It makes it bigger than the writer, something beyond their control, something outside themselves.

I think the key is trying to find what your specific problem is and doing something to counter it. Is it a plot problem? A character concern? A lack of belief in the story? Or is it lack of energy? Distraction? For example, I had a period of a year or so when I didn't write much. My father had just died, I'd just gotten married, and moved, and started a new job, and was dealing with the development of a chronic disease... so was it "Writer's Block"? Or merely that my energy was being moved into other needed areas like grief and life adaptation? I think it was the latter. The stories never completely left my head and I didn't worry. And soon enough they found their way to paper again.

So forget the Monster on the Bed and just concentrate on what might be affecting your writing.

My best,
Ink
The Alchemy of Writing at www.alchemyofwriting.blogspot.com

Richard A Kray
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Richard A Kray » December 23rd, 2009, 1:04 am

Ink wrote:I have a feeling that Writer's Block doesn't exist. Which is not to say that writers don't get blogged... but just that writers get blocked for thousands of different reasons, both personal and technical. But we like to clump things together. It all goes into "Writer's Block", and ol' WB grows and grows and grows beyond itself. It becomes the Monster in the Closet. Heck, the Monster Jumping Up and Down on the Bed. I think that's dangerous, though, that sense of determining "I have Writer's Block!" It makes it bigger than the writer, something beyond their control, something outside themselves.

I think the key is trying to find what your specific problem is and doing something to counter it. Is it a plot problem? A character concern? A lack of belief in the story? Or is it lack of energy? Distraction? For example, I had a period of a year or so when I didn't write much. My father had just died, I'd just gotten married, and moved, and started a new job, and was dealing with the development of a chronic disease... so was it "Writer's Block"? Or merely that my energy was being moved into other needed areas like grief and life adaptation? I think it was the latter. The stories never completely left my head and I didn't worry. And soon enough they found their way to paper again.

So forget the Monster on the Bed and just concentrate on what might be affecting your writing.

My best,
Ink
Very true. Thank you for that, it's really helpfuly.

Sometimes it just happens for no reason. I know exactly what needs to happen (and I know these characters like I know myself), but every time I put it down it doesn't come out right. It's like I temporarily lose my voice. I don't know how else to explain it.
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casnow
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by casnow » December 23rd, 2009, 2:44 am

I think you have to ask yourself "What is writer's block?"

It is obviously anything that stops you from writing. I find for myself that my "blocks" are laziness/inattentiveness - There are many times when I'd rather have a beer and watch the football game than write. I can't write when I want to do that, so technically, that is my block. Luckily that only afflicts me on Sundays and Monday nights. Easy enough. But my point is that sometimes you just don't FEEL like writing even though you think you should. If this is the case, and you aren't on a deadline, then set it downf or a day or two. If writing isn't your job, don't make it feel like one.

The other block, and the serious one, is that you don't know what happens next in a story. This happens when you just start writing with a vague idea and don't know where you are going. Although I try to be an "out of the mist" type of writer, I know that without an outline/plot synopsis I will have those moments. Prepare ahead and know roughly where your story needs to go and you'll avoid 99% of those moments.

The only other type of block I can think of is when you are too consumed with trying to make it sound PERFECT. I have faced the fact that perfection doesn't exist. As part of a writing exercise the other day I went through and edited the first 500 words of what many people consider a great novel. There were definitely extra/unneeded words. perfection doesn't exist.

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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Kaitlyne » December 23rd, 2009, 5:55 am

I work jigsaw puzzles. I know, sounds nuts, but it works really well for me. I actually make sure to always have one on hand so that if I find myself getting stuck I can work it. It's a semi-mindless activity and I find that while doing it my mind just wanders naturally to whatever story I'm working on (sometimes I give it direction, though). It pulled me out of so many holes on my last story. I just have to keep a notebook handy and make sure I write it all down as it comes to me!

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Scott
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Scott » December 23rd, 2009, 10:02 am

I never get it, but I do get lazy and easily distracted. When I'm ready, though, it's there.

AAlicia88
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by AAlicia88 » December 23rd, 2009, 10:48 am

My problem, when it comes to writers block, isn't content. I know my story. It's like a movie that plays over and over in my head. But sometimes when I go to write it out, I freeze. Writer's block get hold of me when I am trying to find the best way to tell the story using the most effective wording, or lack of wording in some cases, while still keeping my character's voice. I know the first draft is mostly comprised of bad writing but I just can't move on to the next paragraph if the previous one is crap.

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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Richard A Kray » December 23rd, 2009, 12:45 pm

AAlicia88 wrote:My problem, when it comes to writers block, isn't content. I know my story. It's like a movie that plays over and over in my head. But sometimes when I go to write it out, I freeze. Writer's block get hold of me when I am trying to find the best way to tell the story using the most effective wording, or lack of wording in some cases, while still keeping my character's voice. I know the first draft is mostly comprised of bad writing but I just can't move on to the next paragraph if the previous one is crap.
I'm the same way, Alicia. I actually usually combine my first and second drafts when I write, so my second draft is more like a polish. Each time I sit down to write, I go back over what I did last time and edit the shit out of it before I go on to anything new. And I'll have some sessions where all I do is edit. I like the work to grow organically like that, fixing things as I see them, so that when I type The End I'm actually almost close to it really being the end.
- Richard A. Kray
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Terry
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Terry » December 23rd, 2009, 5:36 pm

My attention span can be short, so if I'm lagging behind a bit, I switch to writing something else. A short story idea, for instance. Something new, to excite me, and then before I know it, I'm back to my main story. Just needed a lift, variety, spice and all that is nice.

JenLT
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by JenLT » December 23rd, 2009, 9:34 pm

Most of the time when I feel like I have writer's block, it is because I am afraid that my writing won't be good enough. Sometimes when I'm really excited about a scene, I have trouble writing it because I expect that particular scene to be great...so then I stare at the screen terrified to write anything. Or occassionally I'm not sure how to go about writing a certain scene so I procrasinate. The longer I go without writing it, the harder it is to make myself sit down and do it. It just gets worse. I've found that the best thing to do is simply keep writing even if I think it isn't going well.

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SmurfHead
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by SmurfHead » December 23rd, 2009, 9:54 pm

JenLT wrote:Most of the time when I feel like I have writer's block, it is because I am afraid that my writing won't be good enough. Sometimes when I'm really excited about a scene, I have trouble writing it because I expect that particular scene to be great...so then I stare at the screen terrified to write anything. Or occassionally I'm not sure how to go about writing a certain scene so I procrasinate. The longer I go without writing it, the harder it is to make myself sit down and do it. It just gets worse. I've found that the best thing to do is simply keep writing even if I think it isn't going well.
I know what you mean! There were a few scenes in my WIP that I knew needed to be written, but I just wasn't up to it at that time (I write chronologically). The upside is that I continued with the draft and did finish it, instead of digging myself into a hole. But the downside was that I had like, 20K worth of placeholder scenes to write, all of which were pretty important plot points.

Yikes, right? There's nothing like the joy of sitting down at the computer and thinking, "All right, kid, this better be good!"
"Mind-bottling, isn't it? ...You know, when things are so crazy it gets your thoughts all trapped, like in a bottle?"

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Mira
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Mira » December 24th, 2009, 7:11 pm

Hi Richard,

Well you already got lots of responses, so I'm sort of repeating what other people have said...but.....

I get terrible writer's block. I think it's an intense case of performance anxiety. I just get scared I can't do it.

I don't have any great answers, but I can share with you some of my thoughts about it - things I'm thinking to help myself get through it. Something Stephen King wrote stuck with me - he says that he writes his first drafts as quickly as possible, so the voices of doubt don't catch up to him.

Also, someone recently wrote on Nathan's blog about how she writes on paper plates, rather than fine china - knowing everything can be thrown away, and the expectations are low. I think if there's anything we can do to lighten up, reduce pressure and expectations, and make it more fun, that can help.

Also, one thing that's working really well for me is having deadlines. I'm in school, and I can't afford to be blocked. I just write and stop worrying about it. I don't know yet if there's a way to recreate that in my own writing, but if there is, I'll use it. :)

A couple of books have been helpful to me around being blocked - The Artist's Way, If you want to write by Ueland, and a new one, If you can talk, you can write. I suppose there are probably books written expressly for being blocked, one of these days I might do some browsing at Amazon. :)

Finally, this is a really weird trick, but I am completely unblocked in blogs. So, sometimes, I'll start typing in the little box just to get myself started. I was thinking of starting a private blog and typing there, just because somehow it frees me up.

And really finally this time, (sorry this is a long message) just knowing I can only do the best I can, it doesn't have to be perfect. And let it sit for abit too.

Hope some of this is helpful! It's good for me to write about it, so it was helpful to me. :)

All the best to you!

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tabwriter
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by tabwriter » December 28th, 2009, 10:21 pm

Richard A Kray wrote:
AAlicia88 wrote:.... I know the first draft is mostly comprised of bad writing but I just can't move on to the next paragraph if the previous one is crap.
I'm the same way, Alicia. I actually usually combine my first and second drafts when I write, so my second draft is more like a polish. Each time I sit down to write, I go back over what I did last time and edit the shit out of it before I go on to anything new. And I'll have some sessions where all I do is edit. I like the work to grow organically like that, fixing things as I see them, so that when I type The End I'm actually almost close to it really being the end.
I used to do this. And I used to get writer's block a lot more often than I do now. There is a great chapter in Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott called "The Sh***y First Draft." It helped me switch my focus from word quality to story quality. Word quality can come at any time, but it's easier (and less frustrating, at least for me) to focus on the story's overall quality first. It took me awhile to let go of word quality, but once I did I felt liberated. :)

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Holly
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Re: Writer's Block

Post by Holly » December 31st, 2009, 11:01 am

Mega-mega romance writer Nora Roberts puts out about five books a year and earns about $60 million a year.

Her rule for writing is “Ass in the chair.”

http://www.newser.com/story/62024/nora- ... chair.html

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