Tuesday, October 2, 2012

On Blocks and other writerly things


Hello once more.

Today we will be speaking of the myth that is the Writer's Block.

Now do not rant and rave at me about how Writer's Block is real, and you've suffered through it. I am not, in fact, saying that Writer's Block does not exist, but that it is not some intangible, smoke-like substance that clogs the creative mind with no rhyme or reason. There is always a reason. And a way to break past them.

So what's your reason?


Stress is a part of everyone's life, none perhaps more so than the creative. Writers such as myself, who have never been published, never seen a penny resulting from their endeavors, worry. And we worry incessantly. Is this the right thing? Should I be doing this? Maybe I should put up the pen/keyboard/pencil/paper and get a real job. 

These are the thoughts that plague us daily. Those who are not *real* writers will give into them, and will hang up the mantle forever. However, if you are anything like I am, you cannot quit writing for long. You *have* to do it, because if you don't the voices of the unsung heroes and uncorrupting villian's in your head will drive you nutty. Well, nuttiER.

Honestly, the easiest way to get through a stress-induce block, for me, has been to just step away from it for awhile. Go do something that needs to be done. Feed the cat, take the dog for a walk, take out the trash that's been piling up, take a shower, read a book, watch a movie, eat something that doesn't come in a box ferchristssake. Try coming back to it at another time when you've got less on your mind. 


I use this term for when an author is trying to *force* their characters to do something. In my experience, writing is like a fart, if you have to force it, it's probably shit. 

If you have a plan for your characters and they are just not doing what you tell them to, don't try to railroad them. Let Chris kiss that girl even though he's engaged, sell his car, and move in with his best friend. Let them take that dark, scary path in the woods even though it's clearly marked as dangerous. 

This is the easiest block to break, for me. If you want your characters to do A, but you want them to do B, let them do A. Perhaps start another file, or notebook, to keep them separate if you're not sure. Trust me, if you try to make them do something they don't want to, most character will rebel and find ways to do what they want to anyway. 

Lack of Planning

This is my biggest down fall. I am very much a pantser. Now if you don't know the word, it's someone who writes "by the seat of his/her pants". Or without a plan. 

I don't write outlines. I know many writers do, and it works quite well for them. I, however, cannot. I have tried before and writing an outline is too awkward for me and it takes away the element of surprise when it comes to the writing process. I do, however, start with a clear beginning, and something of a clear ending. Normally I have many possible endings in mind. They get shuffled around and changed as I write. 

I have hit this "Lack of Planning" block here recently. I know where the characters are (obviously) and I know where they need to get to. But what happens in the interim? I have slowly been working my way through it, and that's all you can really do. 

Work through it. Keep writing, no matter how much it hurts. To steal words from some author (Idon'trememberwho), "Kill your darlings." (Maybe it was Stephen King?) Put them through the wringer. I through a werewolf at my vampire and poisoned human. It revealed something of the vampire I didn't know. And neither did the human. It puts a whole lot into perspective and is something to keep in mind for future reference. So just keep writing. 


To me, this is the easiest, and yet most difficult reason to understand. What do we fear, you ask?

Not getting it right. Finishing. Not being perfect. Not being good enough. Making no sense. Any number of things. It depends on the author. 

You know what? STOP BEING AFRAID! It's *your* book. It's not going to bite you, it's not going to run away screaming, no one has to read it until you are one hundred percent happy with it, no one EVER has to read it if you don't want them to. 

I'm going to quote another author here. (AgainIdon'trememberwho, ifyouknowtellme.) "The first draft of anything is shit." (Was it Stephen King? OrdoIthinkeverythingisSK?) Don't worry about it not being perfect. I'll tell you what, I had a problem with this for the longest time. I didn't want to write anything if it wasn't perfect.

You know what that got me? An unfinished Work In Progress for eight to ten years. I could have finished it a *long* time ago if I had stopped worrying. So just STOP. And just write it ferchristssake.

Other ways to beat Writer's Block

Alright, so that's all the named causes for Writer's Block I can think of, if you have any, leave a comment below. 

I do, however, have means of overcoming writer's block that do not pertain to anyone type of block, but may help with any or none. Bear with me here, I know this post is long. 

Talk to People

Especially, especially, if you are writing fiction/fantasy. Remember, what is fantasy to you, may not be so to someone else. 

At work, I recently began asking questions of a gal there, she is a Pagan, and I realized, through the night, that a lot of her beliefs lined up with what I already had in mind or written. And talking to her some more gave me more ideas. So talk to people. Ask them questions, if they're alright with it. 

Google is your friend

This is another side of the same coin. But applies to nonfiction as well. 

If you want to know something, google it. Look for forums discussing it. Meet people. Talk to them. Learn from other people, not just the internet. 

Anything else

If you're stuck, and you're writing nonfiction, pick up a fantasy novel. And vice versa. Go for a walk/jog/run. Take a bubble bath, stand in the shower, talk to the cat/dog/rat/snake. Talk to yourself. 

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to just do something else. I know I've said it before, but it's true. It works. Sometimes. 

I lied

The title says this post would contain "other writerly things" as well as on Writing Blocks, but I think I've typed enough tonight. I will get to the Other later. Maybe tomorrow. Oh wait, tomorrow I'm taking part in something a crazy girl named Murphy has called Characters on Couches. 

I will see you tomorrow. 

Food for thought

What form of Writer's block do you suffer from the most often? Why?
Do you never suffer from writers block (freak)? Why not?


  1. SUCH a good post. I definitely know what you mean - stress and fear of my writing not being perfect are big factors in my lack of writing. Also, the fact that I feel like I don't have time - complete rubbish of course, I really should just make time! Gahh, well, maybe November will start me into some good habits :) Anyway, thanks for the epic advice here! I'll have to keep reminding myself that my book is not going to bite me!!

    Oooh, and I believe it was Ernest Hemingway who said "The first draft of anything is shit." ;) It's one of my favourite quotes too!

    1. Ah yes, the other one I forgot. "Not having enough time."

      Well MAKE TIME! Haha, just kidding. Seriously though. NaNoWriMo forces you to take time to write.

      And Ernest Hemingway, that sounds right. I DO just think everything is Stephen King. But that's because he's awesome.

      Thanks for reading!

    2. NaNoWriMo certainly does that! And you know, writing time would actually be like a break from study, or like, precious time... so I'd probably *actually* write, if I made the time! xP So I should. Yes. *nodnod*

      (Stephen King is completely awesome :D)

  2. The other quote (I knew I knew it, but I couldn't remember who said it, so I took your advice and used Google) is William Faulkner. :) "In writing, you must kill all your darlings."

    Certainly been taking that advice in my writing lately. Thanks for the break from it. ;)

    1. Ah!

      Thank you! I really do just think everything is Stephen King.

      And you are very welcome. Glad I could help!

      Thanks for reading!