You've seen the movie where the writer is at his/her typewriter ripping out the page from the machine, crumpling it up in disgust, then holding head in hands in frustration. That's the subject for today.
I am currently working on a World War I novel, and have recently suffered the agony of the writer's block. This one was involved with how to segway from one setting to another. That might seem a bit petty, but good and bad writing are often defined by such trifles. I was at a standstill--had no idea how to proceed. I finally got past this obstacle by taking a three day hiatus doing chores around the house, and returning to find the problem had evaporated.
Well, that doesn't always work, and if you are writing to a deadline, taking three days off is out of the question.
So, I inquired among my fellow authors at Wings Press to see how they coped with the problem. Here are some interesting thoughts. I think you see a recurring theme. Also, check out their websites to which I have included links. These are some awesome writers.
Yes Richard, been there on several occasions.
I not only dive into reading other favourite authors, concentrating on style, but read and reread my work to date on the present blockage work, questioning my own reasoning as well as asking my characters where things should be going from here.
My answers are usually from the latter.
Usually, for me, if I'm blocked it has to do more with my own insecurities
about either my writing in general or my ability to do justice to the story
I have in my head. In both cases, I have to give myself time to understand
where these insecurities come from. Often it's seeing friends (IRL or on
line friends) publishing more/faster/more successfully or seeing all the
good news of reviews, covers, contracts, whatever and feeling like "When is
that going to be me?"
What helps is talking to in real life writing friends and hearing how we
all think everyone is doing better than we are and struggling. I sign off
social media, read books, recharge (that might just mean take a nap!) and
think about my characters and my plot and I'm usually able to get going
pretty well after about 15 minutes of "forcing" myself to just write
With my first book, I wrote two books at the same time. If I ran out of ideas with one book I'd switch and work on the second book. On my third book, if I ran out of ideas I would go back and start editing what I had already written. Sometimes it spurred ideas.
When those ugly words "writer's block" attack it always tells me there is something wrong in either the plot or characterization. I stop writing on the mss nod work on something else until my brain unlocks. Usually the solution just pops up and I instantly know it's right. Usually doesn't take more than a few days. Under no circumstances do you stop writing entirely! It's too easy to fall into depression and begin to doubt yourself. If nothing else copy a page from a "good" book and often that will start the juices flowing for your own work.
I never worry about getting things right the first time, just getting my
thoughts down on paper. I try not to over think or second guess. If I do
have an unproductive day it's usually because of distractions. I disconnect
from the internet, shut myself in a quiet room, and still my mind.
Because I have a craft business, I will make something if I feel sad if the story is sagging. This helps for it takes my focus off the story and places it elsewhere letting my mind do it's thing when I come back to the story. My real problem is not a block as being pulled in to many different directions. I have slowly begun to shut these down.
Mary Ann Mogus