Avoiding Writer’s Block

November 19, 2009 at 5:19 am (Thoughts on Writing, Writer's Block) (, , , )


Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been taking a poll and doing a lot of research on the idea of writer’s block, trying to come up with a list of helpful strategies to overcome it.  Much of my research has included the blogs of other writer’s who hold various opinions, everything from writer’s block being an excuse to being a genuine problem that needs extensive work to overcome.  For most of us, writer’s block just means we are stuck on a particular part of a particular story and from most of what I’ve read and discussed, most writers have their own means and ways of getting around this tricky block.

How do you overcome writer's block?

Poll Results

From the vote, writing anyway and other came up even with six votes each.  Really needed a few more people to take the poll for the results to be statistically meaningful but we’ll just make do with what we have.   Our six other votes each came with a brief descriptor with two of the others claiming they will write something else for awhile, one suggested staying up late, one suggested editing, another suggested a combination of several of the options, and the final vote was to use a creative headspace activity.

I found it interesting that no one nominated exercise or eating and very few suggested talking with people.  For short term writer’s block these are always my first stops.  A quick walk around the block, having a snack, or just chatting to someone can jog my mind and usually I’ll race back to the computer and keep going.  If it doesn’t I end up resorting to writing something else, editing something or, if I’ve accomplished some writing, calling it a day and reading or watching television.

What did become obvious is that every person who writes will face some sort of block at some stage.  Either because they are distracted, or they’ve run into an unforseen plot problem, or a character isn’t working the way they should, and there is no obvious solution.  I may not have uncovered some fantastic sure fire way of overcoming writer’s block, but I did come across many things that most people will agree won’t help.

Ways to not get over writer’s block:

1.  Sulk

2.  Avoid the computer and shut yourself away for days

3.  Complain bitterly to anyone who will listen about why you can’t write the next sentence

4.  Stare listlessly at the WIP waiting for inspiration to strike

5.  Anything that involves banging your head hard against something.

Feel free in the comments to suggest your way of overcoming writer’s block, or reason why writer’s block doesn’t exist, or ways to not overcome writer’s block, etc.

 

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15 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Spann Craig said,

    I think it definitely exists. I don’t have the luxury for it anymore, though! Too many deadlines. I just write my words anyway. I ask the question “what if” a lot and get surprising plotlines that way.

    Elizabeth
    Mystery Writing is Murder

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      What if is one of my favourite questions. I think it is the starting point of all my stories.

  2. Tara McClendon said,

    Hi, thanks for stopping by my blog. I tend to get “stuck” sometimes, but I refuse to call it writer’s block. Like Elizabeth, I have too many deadlines to allow it be an excuse. But that’s just me. When my friends have it, I try to work with them to help them get past the block. We’ll talk about plot or characters or try to brainstorm ideas. One friend has a map she’ll look at for her fantasy world. It’s different for everyone.

  3. Crystal Clear Proofing said,

    I can only contribute what it’s like for me in my “recreational” writing of (short) stories or poetry. I have the luxury of, if the words aren’t there – I walk away, forget about it and do something else. I’m with you on this one – walking is a great exercise for the mind, Maybe it’s the endorphins or something. But what happens to me is, completely out of the blue, there will be words in my head – even a complete story, or poem. I get pen and paper or head over to the compter as fast as possible and the words just flow.

  4. Juliet Boyd said,

    I was one of the ‘write something else’ people. I guess I didn’t put down go for a walk because I do that anyway – the dog sees to that, and eating, well I’ve probably eaten enough whilst writing anyway!

    I find that if I go from, say, a script to a short story, it is so totally different that maybe it engages a slightly different part of the creative brain and proves to me that I don’t really have writer’s block.

    And I try not to bang my head against something hard too often!

  5. charliejackjosephkruger said,

    thank you for reading my page.

    i am really liking your site. it seems very helpful. i am going to add your blog to my ‘blogroll’, i hope you dont mind.

  6. Cassandra Jade said,

    Thanks all for the visit and the comments. It is interesting to hear how other people keep moving their writing forward.

  7. Jonathan said,

    I always imagine writer’s block as the inability to write at all. The rest if it is just a series of knots to untie, some harder than others. Often times I’ll turn to books on the craft as way to get ideas or get inspired. And sometimes, not often but sometimes, I do exercise. It’s about the only place I can work solely on the problem at hand and it takes my mind off the exercise. Thanks for the post!

  8. Fiona Skye said,

    I am firmly in the “just write through it even if it’s crap” camp. I’ve found that if I don’t do this, I’ll allow myself to get so distracted by Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader, watching my kittens playing, or just staring out the window. Sometimes I bribe myself – “If I write 250 words right now, I’ll be able to check Twitter.” It works!

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I do like the bribe method. The only problem is I then get halfway to my goal and decide it was close enough.

  9. sarahwinters said,

    I haven’t yet really experienced writers block, just a little ‘how do I get from here to there’ type issues. What I did when I ran into that problem was I slept on it. And sure enough the next day when I glanced over everything I knew just how to do it!
    My biggest ‘writers block’ is more physical. My husband (who I love very much and has been extremely supportive) keeps telling me, “Hunny, go ahead and go type for awhile.” I smile, go into the back room, set everything up, get a few paragraphs into typing, and then get interrupted 100 times. *bangs head on wall* Besides changing the locks and wearing earplugs I cannot find a cure to that type of writers block… and it drives me up the wall. I know he does it because he misses me, but I just wish he would give me a movies length of time every night to write, research, and/or edit.
    Sarah

  10. rachelhestondavis said,

    Hey Cassandra, thanks for visiting my blog!

    Ann Lammott says that she doesn’t think of it as writer’s BLOCK (implying that the ideas are in there but they’re stuck and won’t come out). She thinks of it as being EMPTY of things to write, and you need to refuel by reading a lot and carefully observing the world to get the juices flowing again.

    I don’t know which theory of writer’s block I subscribe to, but one way or the other, it is a frustrating phenomenon. I always end up just taking a break and coming back later.

    Rachel Heston Davis
    Up and Writing

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I can’t imagine not having something to write about, though that is probably because I’m over committed to other things and don’t get near enough time to write.

  11. Carol Kilgore said,

    Interesting. I’m in the write crap and edit later category.

  12. corra said,

    I read. It always inspires me–though often it inspires me to write something new, rather than tackling the block.

    Also, jogging. Stir up those endorphins!

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