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What To Do with Writer’s Block

Today’s question was also from Marge.

Do you get writer’s block and what do you do to overcome it?

I don’t know any writer who could honestly say they have never encountered a block. In fact, I joke someone is not truly a writer until they have overcome writer’s block. When I first started blogging, I posted a section on writer’s block. Therefore, I’m going to try to make this different than that post.

Writer’s block is caused by a few things. My most common block is (maybe subconsciously) I am unhappy with my plot. Typically, I have to sit down and fix that issue in order to get out. Another one I have found recently is that I haven’t done my research. I’m not really sure what the culture of my characters is like and therefore do not know how to showcase my ideas for the plot. Again, an easy fix. What I decided to do here is give three strategies for the “really stuck” writer’s block that sometimes emerges.

1. Talk it out with someone. I know a lot of writers who actually give the opposite advice. They hate to share their ideas for a few reasons. The first, of course, is a fear someone will steal it. The second is that it will add on pressure to finish and thereby shut down the creative process. And final, the only one I really accept as a true reason, they feel it will cause the “newness” to wear off and they will get bored. For me, I need to talk through my problems. I always go to my mom. She is someone I can trust–hopefully that would be true for anyone–and she is someone who is willing to go down the idea road with me. She comes up with her own solutions or simply listens to me rant. And she never gets mad that I don’t take her ideas, knowing she helped spur my own. Talking it out lets me work through the problem and how to plot my way out.

2. Write even if it’s crap. I have heard this advice given a lot in a different form, “don’t edit while you write.” I don’t like that suggestion because, for me, if a word is misspelled or a sentence comes out crazy bad, then I have to fix it right then and there. Otherwise it hovers over my ideas as I try to continue, mocking me, displaying a neon sign to my subconscious that says it is wrong. But, turn off the voice that says the scene isn’t working or is boring or just isn’t “flowing” right. That’s what revisions are for, especially if you’re blocked. Getting out of the block is the most important thing, and sometimes to get out you just have to force yourself to write. In creative writing courses, they would tell me I had to write non stop for fifteen minutes. If I got stuck, I had to write “I don’t know what to write” over and over. I didn’t believe the remedy, but it never failed. Three or four of these sentences and ideas sparked. I’m not saying to write gibberish to that extent, but just write.

3. Walk away and read, watch TV, etc. Sometimes I am blocked (especially at the start of a novel) because not enough ideas are present. Therefore, I have to walk away. Enjoy a good book or catch up on TV shows. These don’t even have to be in the genre I am writing. In the process, I am introduced to someone else’s ideas. That always sparks mine. I can be sitting watching/reading a situation completely unrelated and inspiration will strike–something I never even thought of before under the pressure of my computer screen’s glare. So, as hard as it is, walk away…just don’t let that stretch into more than a week. Otherwise, you may never go back.

Above all, have faith your ideas will come again. I hope these tips have helped!

**I am down to two more questions scheduled. If you got one, please fill out this form and send it in. Anything writing, publishing, or my books related. Then I will answer them one at a time every Wednesday right here.