Writer’s Block

Some writers don’t believe it exists. Others are paralyzed by it’s clutches. Me? Oh, I believe in monsters. The post today is a few tips on how to combat writer’s block.

My first defense against the WB is to search for answers to some basic questions. Am I writing because of a deadline? Am I concerned about quality? Do I have a word count that I just can’t hit? What external stresses may be distracting me from my writing? If I identify any, what can I do about it?

I start here. Perhaps I need to readjust my deadline because of a lot of life crap just landed in my lap. Maybe my brain doesn’t want me to put words on page and push onwards because I need to edit or change what is already in the draft. Do I feel I have the imaginative juice to get me through the story I am writing? (hint- some ideas are not solid enough to support a novel, while others are too complex for a shorter treatment. I deal with this issue ALL THE TIME) Is my word count too low or too high? Am I forcing the plot/characters/action and my brain is stalling because it is smarter than I am? (see prior discussion about imaginative juice). Do I even like what I am writing anymore?

Any and all of these issues for me stop the flow of words onto the page faster than snow falls in Canada.

My solutions?

Start changing the scenario. If I don’t like what I am writing, then work to edit it to something that I do enjoy. Add new characters, change the “jobs” of the current characters if the story wheels are not turning like you want. Go back to those original scribbles when your story idea was a baby and re-read your notes. Often, a side-track becomes the main track and that is never what your brain initially wanted- so put your story back in place. Is your story message what you wanted it to be? If not, again, go back to those earlier notes and examine where you went wrong and fix it. Like a detective, you have to return to the scene of the crime to gather the clues to solve the mystery.

I don’t believe the writers that say they never suffer from writer’s block. I think they are more attuned to naturally sensing the above issues with story/plot/character and fix items before the whole machine grinds to a halt. I suffer from writer’s block routinely:) I follow my questions, and return to the beginning. I check my plot outlines and re-evaluate story arcs. There is always a story artifact that I excavate, polish, examine in the sunlight, and re-imagine which ignites a creative outflow that is a relief to the stymied writer. It’s like a dam bursts, and all the good words and thoughts and ideas come rushing over the spillway.

I hope this helps another frustrated writer suffering from writer’s block.

Until next time-


Comments 2

  • I agree. I’ve never bought the argument that writer’s block doesn’t exist. What I do agree with is that when writer’s block occurs, serious writers will work through the problems stumping them and not use “writer’s block” as an excuse to stop working on their story.

    Thanks for the suggestions.

  • I teach freshman writing as well as occasionally having writer’s block myself – I’ve started telling my students that WB comes from three major causes: apathy, ignorance, or anxiety. If it’s apathy, their bored by the writing project and need to find some way to make it about something they care about / find interesting. If it’s ignorance of the topic, they need to do more research (or for creative writers pre-writing character and world building exercises) to discover what can be said on the topic. If it’s anxiety, they need to sidestep the fear by embracing what Anne Lamott calls the “shitty first draft” – accept imperfection and forge ahead with it, promising yourself that you can edit later. I’ve found this helps me too when I’m blocked.

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