FRIHOST FORUMS SEARCH FAQ TOS BLOGS COMPETITIONS
You are invited to Log in or Register a free Frihost Account!


Writer's Block - What Do You Do?





georgeodowd
I have had severe and chronic writer's block for as long as I can remember. There are rare bursts of sunshine in which I can actually toss words on a page, but they are usually short-lived. I have recently been enjoying one of the longest and most fruitful sunny spells (30,000 words!), but I feel the clouds rolling in again.

I've tried taking walks, I've tried writing from atop someone's headstone, I've tried talking to myself and to others, I've tried writing all my thoughts down... but it only ever buys momentary relief.

I'm in the middle of a novel-length work which I had thought of as fairly well planned, but as I sit down to write it, I feel sort of like I'm running repeatedly into a wall of bricks.

So I ask, what do you do when you can't write?
blk3
I don't do anything when I can't write, I simply just wait for the right moment when I feel like doing it again. Its hard to force something out that doesn't come out as freely as it should be.
georgeodowd
blk3 wrote:
I don't do anything when I can't write, I simply just wait for the right moment when I feel like doing it again. Its hard to force something out that doesn't come out as freely as it should be.


Yeah, I'm finding that to be the case. If I think too much about it, or I try too hard, I stop getting random bursts of inspiration. It's difficult to be patient though... Smile
ddukki
Watch TV or have an enlightening conversation [I like to call it a bullsh** session] with a friend. Usually, talking or hearing conversation sparks ideas. Reading books also helps, but - for me, at least - reading isn't always the best place for curing writer's block.
georgeodowd
ddukki wrote:
Watch TV or have an enlightening conversation [I like to call it a bullsh** session] with a friend. Usually, talking or hearing conversation sparks ideas. Reading books also helps, but - for me, at least - reading isn't always the best place for curing writer's block.


Yeah, that can work for me. I find that if I can put myself in the right frame of mind - through reading/watching/talking - and leave the rest alone, I will be sort of blindsided by scenes. I usually have to act them out or lose them, so it's nice when they happen in the privacy of my own home. Smile
TurtleShell
sometimes coffee or alcohol helps. Usually I have to wait it out. When it's gone, it's gone, and when it's back I have no idea where it comes from.
toadinhishole
Ice cream. Ben and Jerries Strawberry cheesecake.
It will not work unless you eat the entire tub.
sondosia
I read this book called Writing Begins With the Breath once. The author said that there's no such thing as writer's block; only unwillingness to probe deeper. I agree with that. So my advice would be to let the writing be what it wants to be instead of trying to control it.
ProfessorY91
Meh. Writers block sucks. If you have time on your hands, the best strategy is definitely what's mentioned above. Wait until you feel like writing again and go for it. If you don't have time on your hands and there are circumstances forcing you to write... (i.e. that damn English Literature Professor, Hungry Reviewers, Annoying sibling that hogs computer time, etc... ) there are plenty of things to do. One would be to read. One of the people above stated that reading doesn't usually work for them. I find it hypocritical not to acknowledge reading as a solution to writer's block. Ideas fly when you're sunk into your favorite story and you look at things from your own POV. Watching a movie doesn't work for me - I like movies and 10 to 1 Ill include some theme from the movie unnecessarily. Alchohol/drugs/acid.... worked in the past (see the history of Alice in Wonderland). Not legal (w/ exception of alchohol now). Besides there are more fun things to do when you're drunk.

Personal best strategy, other than waiting?

Go watch anime!

Very Happy

Y
georgeodowd
I'm finding that waiting is the only tried and true strategy for me, but it leaves me rather anxious in the interrim, which can have damaging effects later on in the process. The hardest thing for me, I guess, is that a lot of emotional content in my daily life steals away my writing motivation and inspiration. If life hums along at a boring and predictable clip, then I am encouraged to go in and spice up my fictional happenings. When, however, there is work/people drama, I just cannot find the words. Sadly, this puts my writing flow out of my control, which makes me pretty determined to find a way around it.
Not easy, though. I didn't seriously write for over six years because I was in a high-stress demanding job. As soon as I left it, the writing just started pouring out of me. Some of it I can attribute to having found a very inspirational author, but not all...
fpwebs
Wow... writers block is one of the worst experiences one could ever have! I absolutely hate that feeling! I've found some innovative ways around it, but they may not be too effective for you to use. Just some advice that you may be able to try. These do not always work for me though, depending on the certain circumstances, but I always try new things.

Try a new hobby each day!
Unless you are a very lasy individual, this piece is fun and can keep creative juices flowing for me. I compose music, write, poetry, sculpt, draw, computer program, do CISCO, fix computer viruses, learn new languages, play basketball, soccer, frisbee, etc. There are many things that you can pick up or learn, and if you chose one each day it really helps.

Write or compose with a different canvas!
Sometimes I get bored using the same canvas so I try something new and risky each time. Come up with an innovative topic everytime you write and experiment a little each time that way you can also develope your skills.

Mix up your tools!
Who's to say you have to use a pencil and paper? Try to write on something different! Put poster boards on your walls, and use markers to write on your walls! Try typing!

Sleep and dream!
Whenever I want to write or compose something and I have writers block when I'm tired there is never much that I can do. My solution for that is just go to sleep. It alows my fantasies to be released and in the morning I will have a new topic, or a continuation for a topic fresh in my mind and ready to write down on paper.

Choose a new work area
I get bored sometimes of working on my computer, so sometimes I'll go to a friends house, or maybe even outside to compose. I might even try the mountains sometime, or a park. Anywhere to get new inspiration!
Nameless
For me, the best way to cure writer's block is ... to write.

Just force yourself to keep hitting those keys (/penning that paper); for any work of length you should have planned enough out to do so and even if what comes out at first seems to be crud you'll get back into it soon enough (and you can always fix it up later). Skipping to a more interesting/dramatic/whatever part helps, or (for fiction) just start drafting some alternate scene for the hell of it.

Going for walks in the park is for WIMPS. Razz
georgeodowd
Sometimes for me, it just comes down to an issue of allowing myself to write.
This came to my attention the other day when I had a lesson with my opera coach and he said whenever I run into trouble, it's because I am not allowing myself to be a singer, and the lack of confidence (feeling that I'm doing something I don't deserve to do) is the only obstacle to my achieving my goals.
I think he's right, and I think it applies to my writing as well. Every time I go to write, I get hung up on 'is it going to be good?' or 'do I know what I'm doing?'
I put a sign on the wall above my computer which reads 'Allow Yourself to Write Rot'. Maybe I need to look at it some more...
georgeodowd
Ah, I have a new answer - National Novel Writing Month! Yes, I know all the business about quantity over quality and whatnot, but I find the arguments about needing something to edit before you can create a masterpiece more compelling. Sometimes just getting the words on the page faster than your inner editor can toss them out is the most important thing. I now have a 55,000 word first draft, which - although not fantastic or anywhere near ready for public consumption - is a major accomplishment for me. I look forward to doing major surgery and eventually ending up with something I can be proud of.
georgeodowd
I am finding myself back in a dry spell, word-wise. There has been a lot of drama for the last few months with buying a house (NOT something I recommend doing in this economic climate), and all of my writing projects went into hibernation. I don't feel motivated to work on them at all.
I am really hoping that once everything is moved and unpacked I can create an area to write and read in and rediscover whatever juju I had last year. Sometimes I think I just think too much.... Sad
guissmo
Take a nap. Takes out the stress and when you wake up, you wake up fresh. More ideas come. Who knows, you might have dreamt of somethign good to write.
georgeodowd
guissmo wrote:
Take a nap. Takes out the stress and when you wake up, you wake up fresh. More ideas come. Who knows, you might have dreamt of somethign good to write.


I end up using sleep as an evasion though. My 'free' time, which is a rather ephemeral thing, usually ends up happening in the evening, so if I let myself drift off at all, the next thing I know it's time to go to work again. Sad
Radar
I don't know what tends to work. I think it's different for various situations, and various kinds of writer's block. Going for a walk tends to be good, doing something completely different can work, in my head I expect talking to someone about it, and trying to talk your way through the block may be able to work.

Actually, the technique that I would normally do is just switch to a different part of the story, and then come back later Smile Every time. This results in a story that has about three different loose ends at any given point in time.
georgeodowd
I read once on a freelancer's website that the key to working for yourself is to never let the work be the first thing on your list of priorities or it will never get done. Most people end up at slot two or three on the priority chart, which is why you find yourself scrubbing the kitchen floors instead of working on an assignment. I was skeptical of this at first, but after six months or so of self observation, I've found that it holds true for me nearly 100% of the time. This explains, I think, why I get most of my writing done at work. Wink
ravikanth
Hmmm. How do you discipline yourself to create and maintain a website?
tdezellem
I agree with those who said keep writing no matter what. Even if you feel like what you are writing is crap, just pluck on. Do not sit around and wait for it to happen. Successful writers commit themselves to writing. Try to develop a routine, a specific time for writing in the same place during the same time. Also, not to say this but a healty dose of coffee never hurts.

One way I get around writer's block is I do not write in sequence. In other words if a scene comes to me, whether it is in the first book in a series or the last, I write it down. One series I am working on right now has about 350,000 words in it. I know the basic sequence of events, but I develop scenes a lot of times out of order. Ocassionally this necessitates some rewriting, but in terms of productivity it works. If you don't have a feel for the very next scene but have a feel for a scene that occurs later in the story write it down and that may get your juices flowing.

Another very good trick is to read. Read a lot. Not that you are copying what you read, but it helps the words flow.
georgeodowd
tdezellem wrote:

Another very good trick is to read. Read a lot. Not that you are copying what you read, but it helps the words flow.


Agreed. I get the most desire to write when I am in the middle of a good book. However, it's somewhat conflicting, because I really want to read the rest of the book, and usually I only have time to do one or the other! I try to keep a book I've read many times by the computer when I'm writing, so I can just crack it open and read a few paragraphs instead of getting caught up by the story.
medesignz
i always think best when i'm doing something completely different.

luckily my phone has a voice recorder so I dont forget my ideas HAHA
georgeodowd
medesignz wrote:
i always think best when i'm doing something completely different.

luckily my phone has a voice recorder so I dont forget my ideas HAHA


Yes, I was just reading a Discover magazine article about mind wandering and how it can help you get past mental blocks. It happens to me sometimes - but usually only to give me new story ideas, not to help further existing ones. The trouble is, I have to be receptive first. If I'm caught up in real life, I don't tend to get any great ideas.

A voice recorder sounds like a good idea.
zbale
Here are a few things that work for me (but I don't consider myself an expert writer):

1) I'm not too much for forcing myself to write. The best thing I've found is to go back to the passages that are already written and re-read them (in the sense of reworking them). Very often, what happens is this:
- even if I don't write anything new, what I rework is usually improved in the process.
- while re-reading what I've written I get a sense of what is missing, or what new possibilities are offered to me, and I often have ideas for other parts of the book.
- often, even if I don't write anything new as such, I get a better sense of the structure I want to give the story.

2) If it doesn't help, one can try a different strategy: writing the parody of (parts of) the book you can't seem to write. Parodies are usually easier (and fun) to write. You might be surprised by the result, and actually want to keep passages for the book. This will probably transform the book from your original idea, but chances are it will be for the better.

3) Finding the best time to write can be important. If you're a "day person", consider waking up earlier to write. Experiment (regularity, moments of the day, environments, etc.).

4) As noted in previous posts, recording or writing down ideas or bits of dialogs is important. You can use a password-protected blog: you (and you only) can log in from any computer (work, home), write down the ideas as they come and then go back to them later.

5) A harsh statement but a useful one: if (or when) you have nothing to say, just don't write. There are enough useless books around and you'd better have high standards.

Good luck!
hangnhu
I use to think if I spend time reading other story would work
but then it change my writing style so I stop

now I would draw sometime (anythign) or sit and do something practical that allows you to think and plot more of your story in your head, knitting and croquet works too, even cleaning the house

writer block, is it because no works came out or you can't straighten out your plot?
if it word, try write something, anything you are thinking of and eventually your brain would move back to your story
if you need to straighten out a plot, try brainstorming - this method is excellent for every job,
if you're trying to describe something, try drawing it out, this could help

finally, I recommend eating, one should not need excuse to eat, but eating feeds your brain, and give it a break it needs at the same time, beside if you can describe what you eat, won't that be good for your writing?
tdezellem
georgeodowd wrote:
tdezellem wrote:

Another very good trick is to read. Read a lot. Not that you are copying what you read, but it helps the words flow.


Agreed. I get the most desire to write when I am in the middle of a good book. However, it's somewhat conflicting, because I really want to read the rest of the book, and usually I only have time to do one or the other! I try to keep a book I've read many times by the computer when I'm writing, so I can just crack it open and read a few paragraphs instead of getting caught up by the story.



That's not a bad idea actually. Sometimes I notice when I am in a really good writing streak that when I pick up a book, I only read a few pages before my own story draws me back into the fold. But that's okay of course because I would rather be writing than doing anything else.
tdezellem
zbale wrote:
Here are a few things that work for me (but I don't consider myself an expert writer):

1) I'm not too much for forcing myself to write. The best thing I've found is to go back to the passages that are already written and re-read them (in the sense of reworking them). Very often, what happens is this:
- even if I don't write anything new, what I rework is usually improved in the process.
- while re-reading what I've written I get a sense of what is missing, or what new possibilities are offered to me, and I often have ideas for other parts of the book.
- often, even if I don't write anything new as such, I get a better sense of the structure I want to give the story.

2) If it doesn't help, one can try a different strategy: writing the parody of (parts of) the book you can't seem to write. Parodies are usually easier (and fun) to write. You might be surprised by the result, and actually want to keep passages for the book. This will probably transform the book from your original idea, but chances are it will be for the better.

3) Finding the best time to write can be important. If you're a "day person", consider waking up earlier to write. Experiment (regularity, moments of the day, environments, etc.).

4) As noted in previous posts, recording or writing down ideas or bits of dialogs is important. You can use a password-protected blog: you (and you only) can log in from any computer (work, home), write down the ideas as they come and then go back to them later.

5) A harsh statement but a useful one: if (or when) you have nothing to say, just don't write. There are enough useless books around and you'd better have high standards.

Good luck!


That's some really good advice for writer's block and you are definitely right about going back and re-reading what you write. I find that the editing process helps me greatly not only to get the juices flowing but to perfect what you write and keep details straight as we all know when we are writing we sometimes make little changes to ideas and might forget that we wrote a little something earlier that contradicts what we said.
georgeodowd
zbale wrote:

2) If it doesn't help, one can try a different strategy: writing the parody of (parts of) the book you can't seem to write. Parodies are usually easier (and fun) to write. You might be surprised by the result, and actually want to keep passages for the book. This will probably transform the book from your original idea, but chances are it will be for the better.


Hah, I like that. I've never thought of doing that before, but it sounds like a good strategy! I love inventive stuff like this.

zbale wrote:

5) A harsh statement but a useful one: if (or when) you have nothing to say, just don't write. There are enough useless books around and you'd better have high standards.


Absolutely agree. Of course, this is probably the number one reason why I don't write - I'm always telling myself I'll end up writing something similar to all the books I critique harshly.
georgeodowd
tdezellem wrote:
...because I would rather be writing than doing anything else.


Oh, how I envy your state of mind! My problem is that I would love to love to write. But I don't. The actual creative process is so painful for me. It's just the thought of having written something that makes me do it at all. Rolling Eyes
zbale
georgeodowd wrote:

zbale wrote:

5) A harsh statement but a useful one: if (or when) you have nothing to say, just don't write. There are enough useless books around and you'd better have high standards.


Absolutely agree. Of course, this is probably the number one reason why I don't write - I'm always telling myself I'll end up writing something similar to all the books I critique harshly.


Yeah, I see what you mean (and I kind of feel the same, even though these days I am saved by the fact that I am too busy to write at all - one bad excuse, some might say).

I think we need to keep our eyes on the ball: if I understand correctly, you do not rely on your writing to make a living. The good news is that you can afford to have a small output. Therefore, if you cannot have a large good output, you should strive to have a small, excellent output. This is in fact not unusual in the world of creation, though only two good examples come to my mind right now:

a) It took Gustave Flaubert -- undoubtedly one of the greatest French novelist (and possibly the single greatest influence on Marcel Proust) -- fifteen years to write the second version of the Education Sentimentale (1969; the first version was from 1945). He did not write many books but I think they are all considered masterpieces.

b) Leo McCarey is an excellent filmmaker who was so obsessed with the difficulty of making a great film that he made just a few of them, and one he actually even made twice (Love affair in 1939 and An affair to remember in 1957).

In other words, it's ok, just keep the faith.
georgeodowd
zbale wrote:

Yeah, I see what you mean (and I kind of feel the same, even though these days I am saved by the fact that I am too busy to write at all - one bad excuse, some might say).

I think we need to keep our eyes on the ball: if I understand correctly, you do not rely on your writing to make a living. The good news is that you can afford to have a small output. Therefore, if you cannot have a large good output, you should strive to have a small, excellent output. This is in fact not unusual in the world of creation, though only two good examples come to my mind right now:

a) It took Gustave Flaubert -- undoubtedly one of the greatest French novelist (and possibly the single greatest influence on Marcel Proust) -- fifteen years to write the second version of the Education Sentimentale (1969; the first version was from 1945). He did not write many books but I think they are all considered masterpieces.

b) Leo McCarey is an excellent filmmaker who was so obsessed with the difficulty of making a great film that he made just a few of them, and one he actually even made twice (Love affair in 1939 and An affair to remember in 1957).

In other words, it's ok, just keep the faith.


Excellent advice. You can't create anything great if you don't create anything at all! And, I suppose, if you refrain from imposing your failed attempts on others, you can't be guilty of polluting the creative waters. Smile
Of course, I've seen so many immensely talented people decide not to share their works because of high standards. So maybe if I don't create anything grand myself, I can at least make my mission to encourage them to keep creating and sharing!
Regardless, I am looking forward to NaNoWriMo this year.

You're right in thinking I don't write for a living - I often imagine what it would be like if I did. I fear that in the highly hypothetical situation that I write a novel that receives decent appreciation, I would be way too petrified to write anything else!
zbale
georgeodowd wrote:
You're right in thinking I don't write for a living - I often imagine what it would be like if I did. I fear that in the highly hypothetical situation that I write a novel that receives decent appreciation, I would be way too petrified to write anything else!


I'm sure the options somewhat change if you publish some work which receives appreciation (though still, the number of writers who can afford just to write is greatly inferior to the number of well-known and widely-read writers). At any rate, let not the fear of appreciation be a block! (funny choice of words: "petrified", as you may know, comes from "rock") :p

georgeodowd wrote:
(...) And, I suppose, if you refrain from imposing your failed attempts on others, you can't be guilty of polluting the creative waters. :)
Of course, I've seen so many immensely talented people decide not to share their works because of high standards. (...)


One way of avoiding the dilemma of "pollution vs. self-castration" would probably be to find people around you who know what good writing is and who will be able to tell you honestly whether it is fit for publication, and what changes could/should be made for the book to rise to a higher level (it should be a methodological premise, at least for a first novel, that changes will probably have to be made).

This means that part of your writing work is probably to get to know people who will be able to give you constructive criticism about your writing and tips on how to move on.

I just had a look at NaNoWriMo, looks like a lot of fun indeed!
kutekitten
If I get writers block (which I do frequently) I usually just put a bunch of underscores (____________________) and skip over that part until I get some inspiration later in the story, that way, I can just keep writing, and it doesn't last long.

I also have to kind of clear my mind from writing and just let my mind wander over the part that I'm attempting to write, trying to imagine myself from each character's perspective. If I think of writing, my mind will go blank.

Reading definitely helps as well, although I try to stick to books that don't have to do with what I'm writing. Just so that I don't copy the things I read.

I find as well, if I reread anything I write, then I get skeptical and I can't write much, but that's just me.
georgeodowd
zbale wrote:
I'm sure the options somewhat change if you publish some work which receives appreciation (though still, the number of writers who can afford just to write is greatly inferior to the number of well-known and widely-read writers). At any rate, let not the fear of appreciation be a block! (funny choice of words: "petrified", as you may know, comes from "rock") :p


Yes, I do imagine myself 'keeping the day job' if by any chance I managed to write something worth publishing. Of course, financial success aside, I think I would need the structure of a 9-5 to keep me on track with my writing. Plus, being bored at work sure makes writing seem like a better option!

zbale wrote:
One way of avoiding the dilemma of "pollution vs. self-castration" would probably be to find people around you who know what good writing is and who will be able to tell you honestly whether it is fit for publication, and what changes could/should be made for the book to rise to a higher level (it should be a methodological premise, at least for a first novel, that changes will probably have to be made).


This is why I keep telling myself I need to join some sort of writing group, or something along those lines. Of course, with a full time job, part time job, horse, and night classes, there's definitely a time issue Confused

Hope you decide to do NaNoWriMo! It really is great fun.
georgeodowd
kutekitten wrote:
I find as well, if I reread anything I write, then I get skeptical and I can't write much, but that's just me.


Yeah, that's why NaNoWriMo has been my only means of success. No time to look back, only forward!
Related topics
three restaurants on the same block
Prison Break
legalize (soft)drugs
[RESOLVED]Does anyone know how to block a specific site...
corrupt data on dvd
How to Block shared network drive accesss for Limited User??
Here for a writer
Anyone writers among us?
Chinese man 'jailed due to Yahoo'
Do you make your own comics?
Help me decide what to do with my FriHost site...
A debate of religion, science, and more
External DVD writer
Beauty, share it. (Image intensive)
Reply to topic    Frihost Forum Index -> Sports and Entertainment -> Literature

FRIHOST HOME | FAQ | TOS | ABOUT US | CONTACT US | SITE MAP
© 2005-2011 Frihost, forums powered by phpBB.