Saturday, April 23, 2011

How Do You Deal With Writer's Block?

John Ramsey Miller

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26 comments:

  1. For me? Well, my wife helps out here a lot. (As if she doesn't put up with enough junk because of my writing.)

    She picks ONE item in the house, hands it to me (or points it out) and tells me to "go to my room."

    I can't come out until I have several paragraphs written, describing the item as if I were explaining it to an alien on their first trip to the planet.

    I know, corny. But it works, and it reminds me who REALLY wears the pants in our household.

    Hope everyone has a GREAT Easter weekend. Remember to embrace EVERY day as the miracle it is.

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  2. Reading helps, because it reminds me what narrative flow looks and feels like, and marveling at a well-placed word or phrase can be inspirational.

    When that doesn't work, I like to jump in a scalding hot shower and think about my story, try to flesh out the plot, scenes, etc.. I've had some of my best ideas in the shower, actually!

    Failing all that, the last resort is to sit in front of that WP and just write, and hope something you put out there is worth keeping, or at the very least that you've exercised the blargs out of your system for the time being.

    Nothing works every time, but I think writers should explore different ways, so when one or two of them fails you, there are other options.

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  3. I second the point on reading to get in the flow. I've also recently purchased "How to be a Writer-Building your Creative Skills through Practice and Play". So far, it's been really helpful. I'm working the exercises as I go. It's mostly, thus far, about freewriting and focused freewriting.

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  4. John, you're the best. I'm howling.

    Re: the question. I go for a drive (a short one, these days) into a heavily populated area. It's almost impossible to miss seeing some incident or place that will get the creative juices flowing.

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  5. I too will reread passages from my favorite books to remind myself how it's done. I usually also read a book on writing to see if I can find new exercises that are helpful. Also I write about what I would be writing about if I wasn't so blocked or I just write about how blocked I am feeling. Also I give myself permission to be totally useless for a day or two and watch a lot of movies.

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  6. Omg...


    Too much white.


    Must fill the page...before zombies eat me.

    Words keep the bad people out of my head. I swear to god. Most days it works...

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  7. Ok...now that I've had my first gulp of coffee, the voices have lowered to whispers.

    I don't believe in writers' block. My mind might need a break to work out a problem and simply walking away and distracting myself with ANYTHING else seems to do the trick, giving myself time to resolve the issue. If I stop writing, I trust my instincts that its for a reason re: plot. Fortunately this weirdness usually doesn't last long.

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  8. 1) Grab iPod and car adapter.

    2) Get in car at 2am.

    3) Find near empty highway.

    4) Put iPod on shuffle.

    5) Turn volume up full blast.

    6) Drive 10-15 mph above limit.

    7) Rinse and repeat.

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  9. Haven't experienced that yet, but then again, I'm new to the game. As it stands now, I cant seem to shut it off at night. It's coming up with the next story that worries me most. I know once I've got it laid out though, I won't be able to stop it.

    BTW-funny post!

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  10. Fletch--That sounds like fun no matter what the reason.

    And the darkness at 2AM makes you invisible to troopers. Go for it.

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  11. I've never had writer's block, though I've often had quality blindness and tangenting. The worst is not to outline and go a'wandering off somewhere it's hard to get back from.

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  12. I can't believe how long I stared at those three dots, assuming my laptop was having a screen issue. Hah!

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  13. Not sure I'm big believer in writer's block. But then, I've worked as a writer in both non-fiction and fiction for over a decade now, and in my experience editors don't take it well when you say, "Sorry I couldn't finish that piece on smoothies, I was blocked."
    I've had days where I hated sitting down at the keyboard. Where everything I wrote was terrible and ended up being discarded. Where I couldn't figure out what was supposed to happen next. But I always write through it. Eventually something comes.

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  14. Jordan, did it last night, my friend.

    Evanescence+Linkin Park+stick shift+empty 405+me=final climatic action scene to my ninja novel. It was glorious.

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  15. Writer's block? That's why I have a co-writer.

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  16. Fletch--

    I think I have "Finis" envy.

    What's not to love about an ending with ninjas?!

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  17. I

    ....er

    ...well actually

    I don't really get writer's block either, it's more like severe and potentially life threatening logorhrea that bothers me. Too many words coming too fast.

    My muses are too noisy most of the time. The only time I really think I suffered creative drought was when I was taking some heavy meds for a while after surgery, and still working two jobs and doing radio stints all at once. There just wasn't much coherent stuff left at the end of the day.

    One thing that does help me focus though is doing narrations. Forces me to put my energies into one zone for a few hours. When I come out of the booth I am usually ready to do something else. Great tonic that.

    Basil
    www.basilsands.com

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  18. Speaking of drugs and writing, the book that was blocked by more than a year of pain meds is now finally done...well beta level done at least...and off to the betas.

    If you wanna be a Basil beta, say it soon and you too can be a Basil beta reader/rater

    Cold Summer hot action in the Land of the Midnight Sun...served on ice with a smile and knife

    Ahhhhh....feeling poetic today

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  19. I'm another who doesn't believe in writers block. I think writers can get stuck and not know what comes next, which is why I always have at least a partial outline.

    I think it was Stephen King who said writers block is what happens when you try to be a better writer than you are. That's not a pejorative; by that definition Steinbeck could have writers block. It just means we're trying to exceed our skills at the time. Back off a little and write some junk. At least you'll have something to edit. let it come back a little at a time.

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  20. I've never tried to be better than I am. I know I'm stuck with what I've got, and my age I may just season here and there.I think I'm mostly in Winter these days.

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  21. This might be a record number of comments for a blog that wasn't written.

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  22. I just realized that the 3 dots was THE post. Thought I had a really slow connection.

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