Writer's Block: Ignore It?

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JohnDurvin
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Writer's Block: Ignore It?

Post by JohnDurvin » February 16th, 2011, 10:33 pm

What do you do when you should be writing but don't want to? Is it better to do it anyway and soldier through or go find something else to do? I've been drifting in and out of writers' block for months now, and I'm worried that part of the problem is that I keep cramming the laptop into my hands and trying to force it. I used to solve this by doing research or brainstorming for the current project or others, but that hasn't been working lately.
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Robin
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Re: Writer's Block: Ignore It?

Post by Robin » February 16th, 2011, 10:47 pm

Maybe try some fan fiction for your favorite novel. The characters are already developed, just give them another plot and see what happens. This should loosen you up a little and hopefully inspire you to power through with your MS.
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Re: Writer's Block: Ignore It?

Post by sierramcconnell » February 17th, 2011, 8:57 am

I find that if I try to force myself to write, it's not going to come out any good, and I'll probably end up deleting it anyway. Thus, I wasted time I could have been spending on another creative endevor. And that's what you might be needing to do. Something else.

Got any other hobbies? Do them now. And I don't mean television or anything like that. I mean taking a walk. Making pottery. Painting. Jewelry. Something creative. Because the body does need an outlet for the creativity, it just doesn't need words.

Is there something in your book that you've always wanted to see 2 or 3D? Like a character picture or a necklace or something? I like to make things from the book, because it makes it more real to me. I work on those things when I need a break. It's also fun to have as inspiration when you're less than willing to work on the book, if the character is staring you down.

But you need not force. Otherwise, you'll hate it and it'll make you resentful.
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polymath
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Re: Writer's Block: Ignore It?

Post by polymath » February 17th, 2011, 10:49 am

I've been there, expect it'll happen again, chronic, won't ever be cured. I diagnose why I get blocked. Most often it's because I'm off creatively, not so much inspiration-wise as voice-wise. My fiction voice isn't up to my expectations. So I sketch draft to work past a block. Practice, practice, practice. A paragraph or two testing out a voice gets some small amount of work done each day.

Other block causes, not enough character research, prewriting planning, too much subtext not enough literal substance. Like, I'm reaching for the story and missing character development or vice versa and plot. The overall defect in my writing that I'm working past is limited reader rapport from low empathy potentials. Readers have to care what happens to want to read, have to read to find out what will happen. Invoking irresistible curiosity, that and voice, will see me through the next obstacle to my writing growth.
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Re: Writer's Block: Ignore It?

Post by Margo » February 17th, 2011, 11:01 am

polymath brings up some excellent points. I can always trace my bouts of writer's block back to a nagging feeling something isn't quite right with my project. It's like the gears freeze up because I've assembled them incorrectly. I then make a point of looking at my plot, my character work, my themes, to see what part isn't quite right. Last time I had an event set for my second plot point when it should have been my mid-point twist. As soon as I rearranged the outline, the gears started turning again.

Should you push through it? If you mean keep writing anyway, I don't think so. If you mean stay with the WIP and keep tinkering until you figure out what's wrong, I would say yes. If you mean to ask should you put the WIP down for an extended period, I say no, unless you have another WIP to work on. All this assumes, of course, you are trying to write for publication rather than solely for personal satisfaction. I don't think writers who want to be published regularly can afford to get into the habit of walking away from writing for extended periods. Can't build a career if we can't handle deadlines and actively addressing blocks.
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Re: Writer's Block: Ignore It?

Post by Sommer Leigh » February 17th, 2011, 11:18 am

When it happens to me I step away and go read a book. Something very good. Sometimes in the same story idea as mine, sometimes something entirely different. I read the whole thing and then I go back to my manuscript and I back way up until I figure out where I've gone wrong. Most of the time my block has nothing to do with not having anything to write, it has to do with me losing my path and writing myself into a corner I don't want to be in. Usually it is a plot problem, sometimes a character one. If I have to I go back and read from the beginning without making any edits or changes as I read and when I hit the problem I almost always feel it while I'm reading. Then I rewrite the problem spot and keep going.
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Re: Writer's Block: Ignore It?

Post by Guardian » February 17th, 2011, 12:27 pm

When it happens I revert to my secondary or tertiary WIPs. Both has a different genre than the others, different characters and storyline. But I never read other novels when it's happening, because writers feel the urge to lift ideas, solutions from the novels what they read, because these sudden ideas, sparks used to overwhelm the writer's block. But this is what I don't want to do at all as I want to figure out the solution by myself. So I rather play the "pinball" between three WIPs and it's used to work. At least I'm always progressing with one of them and it's also a good practice.

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Re: Writer's Block: Ignore It?

Post by Claudie » February 17th, 2011, 2:40 pm

Most of my small writers block are solved by a long walk outside. You sound like you have something more major, though. Pushing through is only good if you believe the block will go after a few days, which doesn't seem to be your case either.

Honestly, I'd go with Margo's advice. Examine the plot, the characters, the themes. See if everything is all right there.

Something else you can do: make a love-list with your WIP. Just write down everything you love with this project. It's like a reminder of why it's worth it!
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Re: Writer's Block: Ignore It?

Post by trixie » February 17th, 2011, 3:18 pm

When I face writer's block, I try to first change my physical surroundings.

First, I change my location. I used to have a lot of success writing at my desk over lunch. When that stopped working for me, I created a quiet writing "office" area in my house that is off limits to anything except writing.

Second, I change my media. Normally, I write out ideas in an outline format in the college-ruled, spiral bound notebook that I devote specifically to my ms. And when writing in said notebook, I have to use my Pilot G-2 black gel pens. When faced with a mental block, I grab my loose-leaf, 3-hole punched paper and a blue pen. I write, "What if" along the top and allow myself to write out all the crazy directions my story can take. What if I kill off my MC? What if my antagonist is the protag? What if I keep the general premise, but make it sci fi instead of adventure? What if I incorporate magic? What if my first obstacle is really the big one at the end?

Third, I brainstorm other stories that are bubbling around in my head. For example, I have years worth of love letters from my g'pa to my g'ma that they exchanged during WW2. I bet if I read through them all, something will rise up and grab me as a unique angle, even though I have never thought about or researched anything to do with WW2.

Finally, the one thing I personally can't do, is read a book. Especially a mega-successful one. Though my ms is a middle grade adventure/fantasy novel, I read the entire Hunger Games trilogy within a week and was cursed with an even larger mental block. Reading wildly successful books doesn't inspire me; they intimidate me and give voice to the mean girl who lives in my head.

I also agree with walks. Especially if you can walk somewhere and talk out loud (aloud? Can I get a ruling?) through your blocks. That's helped before.

Good luck!

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Re: Writer's Block: Ignore It?

Post by bcomet » February 17th, 2011, 5:13 pm

The best thing I've done is taken it to my regular critique group. It is healing to hear how much others believe in your writing, even the rough early stage stuff, and also to have people who understand about slumps to talk to. In my group, almost everyone has gone through a periodical three-month slump. Also, collectively, we are all having to deal with the changes in publishing. It helps to see how e-books are emerging on the scene and to have others navigating these waters with you, believing in you, excited about your work, and wanting to read what happens next.

I cannot speak strongly enough about the ongoing value of good critique groups and partners.
Last edited by bcomet on February 20th, 2011, 4:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Writer's Block: Ignore It?

Post by RachelHowzell » February 18th, 2011, 5:18 pm

Step away from what you're working on.

Then, turn your attention to these ten things:

1. The dishes in the sink.
2. The laundry growing up the walls in your bedroom.
3. The cat box.
4. The receipts and tax documents that are spilling out of your drawers that need to be itemized for your accountant before April 18.
5. A few games of Bejeweled on XBox 360.
6. All the crap your 7-year old leaves in the back of your car - goldfish crackers, sparkly pens, seven Hannah Montana sticker books, tissue, flattened juice boxes, random socks
7. The scariness beneath the kitchen sink. Or the bathroom sink.
8. The yard and all the poop left behind by your Golden Retriever.
9. Your purse and all those slips of paper, un-topped lipsticks, Bazooka gums, pennies, bobbie pins, sparkly pens (your daughter's), Post-Its with great story ideas, loose change.
10. The drawer that holds all your underwear and socks and stuff but can't open all the way cuz it's stuffed with underwear and socks and stuff.

Once you spend time doing some of this, your mind will be ready to get back to something as cool as writing.

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Re: Writer's Block: Ignore It?

Post by Mike R » February 18th, 2011, 8:52 pm

I usually find that when I finally get unstuck, I was heading in the wrong direction.

So now, when I get stuck, I back up a few pages or even a chapter and try it again. I don't start writing immediately, I think a little and let it come. If it doesn't come I back up a little more.

This doesn't happen very often though because I give control to my characters and they know best what's happening.

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Quill
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Re: Writer's Block: Ignore It?

Post by Quill » February 18th, 2011, 9:52 pm

RachelHowzell wrote:Step away from what you're working on.

Then, turn your attention to these ten things:

1. The dishes in the sink.
2. The laundry growing up the walls in your bedroom.
3. The cat box.
4. The receipts and tax documents that are spilling out of your drawers that need to be itemized for your accountant before April 18.
5. A few games of Bejeweled on XBox 360.
6. All the crap your 7-year old leaves in the back of your car - goldfish crackers, sparkly pens, seven Hannah Montana sticker books, tissue, flattened juice boxes, random socks
7. The scariness beneath the kitchen sink. Or the bathroom sink.
8. The yard and all the poop left behind by your Golden Retriever.
9. Your purse and all those slips of paper, un-topped lipsticks, Bazooka gums, pennies, bobbie pins, sparkly pens (your daughter's), Post-Its with great story ideas, loose change.
10. The drawer that holds all your underwear and socks and stuff but can't open all the way cuz it's stuffed with underwear and socks and stuff.

Once you spend time doing some of this, your mind will be ready to get back to something as cool as writing.

Can I get a W00t for those who know what I'm talkin' 'bout?
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CharleeVale
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Re: Writer's Block: Ignore It?

Post by CharleeVale » February 21st, 2011, 3:44 am

When I mentioned Writer's block in my class, my prof. immediately piped up with this:

"I don't know when the muse will come, but when she comes she'll find me working." - Flannery O'Connor

Suck it up and keep working, eventually the block will dissipate and you be flowing like a river. (Granted this is easier said than done, but don't give up!)

CV

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Re: Writer's Block: Ignore It?

Post by Down the well » February 21st, 2011, 9:59 am

CharleeVale wrote:When I mentioned Writer's block in my class, my prof. immediately piped up with this:

"I don't know when the muse will come, but when she comes she'll find me working." - Flannery O'Connor
Yep, that pretty much sums it up for me. : )

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