DEALING WITH WRITER’S BLOCK
Once again, I’ve been inspired by recent threads on a forum. Someone asked how to deal with writer’s block. This is something that occurs way too often, especially with writers that, at least to me, take this passion as a hobby. On the other hand, when one cannot fully grasp the concept of seat-of-the-pants writing, there’s the real possibility of writing into a trap. Maybe it’s time to try outlining. On the other hand, using some of these following techniques may also be a cure.
This article is almost a challenge for me because since I found this passion back in 1995, I’ve never had writer’s block. The ideas just keep flowing and the one time I did have writer’s block, back in 1972 when I tried my hand at that pathetic Star Trek satire, it deserved to be blocked!
WHAT IS WRITER’S BLOCK?
This may seem like a dumb question to those of you that have experienced it, but if you haven’t yet, it’s where you reach a point in your creativity where the well runs dry. You get to a point in your story, or maybe before you even start, and can’t think of a thing to say. Nothing. You sit down at the computer, or twiddle the pen or pencil in your hand and stare at the blank screen or paper and stare…and stare and nothing comes. You blink your eyes, twiddle some more, tap your fingers. A swell of unease rises from the pit of your stomach. This eventually blossoms into panic. Maybe a deadline looms, whether real or imagined. The panic turns into a mental block that becomes an outright wall of despair.
I can no longer write! Aaagh!
For those of you that have experienced writer’s block, is that about it? Is it close?
Though I haven’t personally had the problem, when it comes to writing at least, I have had similar issues in other areas. Plus, I’ve paid attention to the threads and listened to others in conversation with potential ways to solve writer’s block.
One thing you can do is just quit. Think about it. One reason you may have writer’s block is that you’re all hung up on having it in the first place. You’re so worried about finishing your story, or about some roadblock to your creativity, why not just back off and quit for a while? I hate to cop that old Billy Bass phrase from the song by Bobby McFerrin, but how about a little Don’t worry, be happy? I’m dead serious. Go on to something else for a while. When the muse strikes you again, it might be something sneaky that creeps into your subconscious that tells you your solution, or it might be while you’re out driving, shopping, or wake up from a vivid dream and it hits you like a lightning bolt. Aha! The block is over!
How about doing a writing exercise? Maybe try flash fiction. Take your mind off your present predicament and go into something else for a while. Write one or a couple of flash fiction pieces. Maybe even start an unrelated novel. What if something within those unrelated stories clicks and gets you back to your square one or two or three of your writer’s block?
BREAK IT DOWN
Try breaking down what happened. You have writer’s block but why? What caused the writer’s block? Did you run out of ideas? Did you write yourself into a corner? If you just finished a novel and are supposed to start another one in a series, what if there shouldn’t be another one? Say, you’re expected to make a third book in a trilogy, but you can’t come up with a good idea for book three? You never planned it well enough ahead? Uh oh? Or, say, you’d mapped it all out but for some reason, you accidentally combined book three’s plot in book two…or…that original idea became moot for book three? Now what? Writer’s block!
Now, you have to come up with something else. By analyzing it…not agonizing over it, maybe you can come up with something interesting. Here again, if you hit a wall, just stop and move on to something else. If you have a deadline, getting freaked out about it isn’t going to make matters any better. Stop. Let your mind go blank. Bandy thoughts as they come along. Don’t discard anything outright, but then again, look at each idea carefully. You don’t want to retread, or go into cliché but at the same time, you may have written yourself into something that’ll be hard to get out of.
CONSULT YOUR PEERS
It never hurts to ask your peers for advice. It’s not like they’re going to steal your ideas…well, unless you’re writing a screenplay! Geez, you have to be so careful showing screenplays around Hollywood! Sorry, I’m off on a tangent.
One other thing. Though this may seem like a waste of time, you can always just write. With your mind blank, sit down and write something…anything (thanks Todd Rundgren). See what comes out in the wash. Go ahead and throw it away if you have to. It may be total nonsense. Then again. From all that garbage, maybe it will click your mind back into gear. You never know.
If you see writing as a passion and not work or a hobby, you’re going to find a way around writer’s block. How you do it is up to you. I wish you luck!