Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Writer's Block-It's A Real Thing!


If you experience one or more of the following symptoms, it is possible you may be suffering from Writer’s Block:

-Staring at your blank computer screen for hours on end
-Watching the clock count out every painful second of your non-productiveness, in a complete and total panic that you’re wasting your Writing Time
-Finally writing two sentences, only to delete them because they suck balls
-Gnashing your teeth
-Pulling out your hair
-Verbally abusing yourself and your skills as a writer
-Consuming lots of goodies including but not limited to nachos, chocolate, pastries, and wine, because you’re feeling bad for yourself and you deserve it

Yup, that’s writer’s block.

I’m sure most writers experience writer’s block to some degree on a fairly regular basis. Myself, having a full-time, non-writing job and a two-year-old son, my writing time is already very limited, so I used to find it especially painful when those precious hours were being wasted.

Hold up, did I just say USED TO????

Yes.

I still get writer’s block—don’t get me wrong—I just don’t stress about it like I used to. Now I’ve heard quite a bit of advice on beating the dreaded writer’s block: allowing yourself to write badly (which means worrying about editing later), brainstorming, asking ‘what if’ questions, talking out loud to yourself—all of which is GREAT advice—but you know what? Sometimes none of that stuff works, and you’re just STUCK. Which makes sense, right? Because it wouldn’t be a problem for so many writers if there was a simple solution.

But what finally made me stop stressing about writer’s block was realizing that I was the only person putting pressure on myself. Seriously, what was the big deal if I didn’t meet my word count quota for the day? I mean, goals are great, and I still regularly give myself a word count quota as a guide, but I do realize now that every once in a while I will need to take a step back and think about my plot. 

This isn’t my excuse to be lazy, either—I KNOW YOU WERE THINKING IT, JERKFACES! (Wait, so you mean I can’t call my followers jerkfaces?) I do try to work my way out of a problem first, but I can usually tell when one of the aforementioned tactics at beating writer’s block will work given a little time and when I need a Plotting Day (which is what writer's block is now called for me :D ). But if Plotting Day it be, that's okay. It's me, and it's how I write. So I may not accomplush 2000 words that day--tomorrow I might write 3000, and all because of all the brilliant ideas I came up with after taking a break to think (and also harassing my sister and making her plot my book for me. Thanks, Brandy!)

So how about my writerly friends? How do you deal with the dreaded writer’s block?


29 comments:

  1. I take a break and usually in a few hours I have an idea and the words flow. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. That's awesome!Thanks for commenting, ladonna :)

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  2. I think being really busy has helped me stay away from "writer's block". (knock on wood!!!)

    That said, there are times when I feel like I just can't write, and usually there is a specific reason why. Often it's because I'm trying to write a scene that I don't want to write becuase it's not very exciting becuase it doesn't contribute to the plot and the characters in a meaninful way.

    I'm a highly introspective person (maybe all writers are?), so pinpointing the problem usually works for me. But I've also heard a good way to help yourself is to skip ahead to a scene you're really excited about.

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    1. That is SUCH a good point, Susan. That does sometimes happen with me too, where I struggle and struggle to write a scene and later realize I'm going to ditch it during edits and that it wasn't, in fact, the way I needed to go with the plot. Taking time away to think helps with that problem as well, because chances are that, after I've put a bit of distance between myself and my book, I can gain better perspective and realize what really needs to be done.

      Thanks for sharing, Susan!

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  3. I love this post, Michelle. I'm currently doing revisions and sometimes I read stories where people barely revise the book, it gets picked up by a great agent and then within a week or so get a great book deal. (Not you. Just others I've read about :)) I always freak out about my writing and how I'm not "there" yet - with word count goals and with editing my novel and querying etc - but then I realize that Everyone's Story is Different. I really try to calm myself down by going for long walks, etc.
    I also put insane pressure on myself. "I'm 22 and I don't have a book deal? GAH! What is wrong with me!" Again, I relax by reminding myself that everyone is different and I am going to college and trying to write and try to have a social life and its hard, and I remind myself that everyone has their own stuff going on (kids, jobs, family issues) and that no story is perfect.
    So while that super duper 3 book deal may seem amazing, maybe the author struggles with revising or copy edits or...etc.etc.

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    1. Absolutely Rachel! We writers really do put a lot of pressure on ourselves, don't we? It's great when we can realize that the pressure is coming from us and, most of the time, not an outside source.

      You've got SOOOO long to get your book published!I didn't even start writing until I was 25! Not to mention the writing buddies I know that got started much later than me in life (I won't name anyone specifically here for fear of my safety).

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    2. Ahem.

      : D Yes, I'm 36 next birthday and I've only been writing for two years. But a lot can (and did!) happen in that time.

      I can't say that I've had writer's block on a first draft, but with revisions? Yep, I struggled for the right plot. I know how to deal with it better next time - which is PATIENCE (a virtue I'm sadly still working on!)

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  4. I was always very skeptical of the advice to sit back and write out a conversation with your characters, asking them what's wrong with the book. That is, until I tried it last night after being stuck for weeks. The result is that I deleted the last 10,000 words I wrote and am going in a different direction with the story. Pretty painful I have to say, but so far it seems to be working.
    Good luck keeping the writers block at bay!

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    1. Wow, that is quite the gutting! But it sounds like you know what you're doing. Good luck with your revisions :)

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  5. I'm currently suffering from a mean bout of writer's block. I'm doing all those things you listed above. I too put a lot of pressure on myself, and I've been trying to remind myself that writing is a hobby, not my job.

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    1. It's hard sometimes strike a balance between making goals and sticking to them and knowing when you're at your limit. Us writers, I tells ya!

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  6. I've decided that writing is supposed to be fun. I think I forgot that last year. Now I write when I feel like it, and I have four projects on the go. When I'm not FEELING one, I'll go and write another. My writing has relaxed, I've relaxed, and my family has relaxed. :-) I have a lot of PLOTTING DAY'S :-)

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    1. Great philosophy, Amaleen! There were definitely times I forgot that too.

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    2. I forgot that for a few weeks last year too!

      I hope I never forget again. Kick my ass if I do, please : )

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  7. I deal badly ;)

    I'm stuck with a query that hates me, and I'm so het up about that (I just want it out on sub!) that I can't get into my new WIP. I'm gonna keep trying though, because I'm liking this new one - no guilt, revenge and death in it, for a start (not like the last one).

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    1. It's nice to do something completely different after you've stared at the same manuscript for ages--and sometimes that time away can give you some much needed perspective on what wasn't working in the old manuscript/query, and also remind you why loved it in the first place.

      Good luck with your query, and if you're really stuck you can always check out the 'query critiques' tab at the top of the page :)

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  8. I harass you and make you plot my book for me. Thanks Michelle! :D

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    1. See, it's cyclical--Brandy plots my book for me, and I plot your book for you! It all works out (except maybe for Brandy, lol)

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    2. Now who will plot my book? Any takers? Hehe.

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  9. Thanks for the great post! I have real trouble with allowing myself to write badly. I'm one of those perfectionist types that struggles with that. (And I also have kids and a full-time job --Aaaaah!) I'm going to make this my mantra. I can already feel the writing serenity coming my way...

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    1. I had this problem as well, and also I wouldn't allow myself to skip a scene or a description I was having difficulty with and go back to it later--but now that I've relaxed a bit on those points I save myself so much time, and my writing only improves.

      I'm so glad you found the post helpful :) Thanks for reading!

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    2. I also can't allow myself to write badly. I'll spend all night perfecting a few sentences. I need to learn to let that go, otherwise I'll never finish this book! Haha

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    3. Seriously, let it go Brandy! I want to read that thing at some point ever :P

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  10. Haha. Workin' on it. Slowly but surely.

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  11. I try to write through them, even if it's crap. Or I avoid :)

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