Dealing With Writer’s Block

On my blog tour one of the most common questions I got asked was, how do I deal with writer’s block? I know writer’s block well. I’ve had small bouts of it, I’ve had a three year stretch of it, and I’m dealing with a tiny bit of it right now, well, maybe it’s more like a slow down than a total blockage, but it’s still frustrating.

I think in order to deal with writer’s block, it’s best to understand what causes it in the first place. For me, I’ve found I get writer’s block for two reasons.

  1. The scene/story isn’t right and I am refusing to change it.
  2. I have disconnected from my emotions, making it impossible to feel passionate about what I’m writing.

When I find myself experiencing writer’s block, I first have to determine which cause I’m dealing with. If the scene isn’t right, I try something new. Sometimes the solution is as simple as writing the scene from another character’s perspective. Other times I have to let go of the chapter, go to my notebook, and re-plot the story.

Emotional issues are a lot harder to overcome. If I feel disconnected from the story, I have to figure out why. Am I upset about something? Is there something I don’t want to face? Am I not connecting with the characters or the plot because there’s no truth in it? When this is the case, it’s important for me NOT to force myself to write. They say a writer should write everyday, but when I am struggling to get words out, the last thing I want to do if frustrate myself more.

When it’s an emotional issue keeping me from writing, I try to embrace it and take a step back. This is my mind telling me that I need to take a break, inspire myself, and recharge. The best way I’ve found to accomplish this is to read. Writers NEED to read in order to write. So I will make an extra effort to read something I love that makes me excited about telling stories. I read books from authors I admire, and books that make me wish I’d written them myself.

I also take time to watch movies that inspire me. While I’d love to sit and watch a Mad Men marathon, I’m a fantasy writer and chances are I will gain nothing from Don Draper and his cigarette smoking dalliances. I watch historical movies, fantasy movies, and nearly anything on the history channel.

Once I take a step back from writing, I find the itch to write comes back pretty quickly, and I usually wait until the itch is so strong that I can’t wait to sit down and continue with my manuscript.

If none of that helps, you can always try some of these terrible ideas…

  1. Get drunk (Maybe not such a bad idea).
  2. Rewrite the ending to Lord of the Rings.
  3. Scrap your entire project and decide to become an impressionist painter.
  4. Spend your days on Twitter and Facebook.
  5. Call every person who ever told you that you couldn’t write to tell them they were right.
  6. Quit writing forever.

So, as you can see, dealing with your writer’s block is probably a better idea than ignoring it.

How do YOU deal with writer’s block?


6 responses to “Dealing With Writer’s Block”

  1. I also find that just taking time away from my story is the best solution (for me). I like how you pointed out that we’re SUPPOSED to write every day, but forcing a scene doesn’t help. If I take a day or two off from writing, I find that a solution or idea dawns on me and before I know it, I’m racing back to my computer to get it down 🙂

  2. This is one of the reasons I started a blog. When I get writers block, I mess with a blog idea or reply to comments – anything that keeps me writing and thinking creatively. It helps to take my mind off the work for a bit and create something else.

  3. Back in the day, I often found myself just browsing the web when a block sets in. Recently, I’ve started trying to address the problem more effectively, and I’ll generally switch to a different project or simply start reading a book whenever I find myself feeling unable to write.

    And I fully agree that writers need to read in order to write well. I actually got more into reading AFTER deciding I wanted to write; not exactly the usual order of events, but hey.

  4. I’m in the midst of what one might call writer’s block, but that I refuse to acknowledge as such. ^.^ I was trying to write the sequel to my book that is coming out in May, but I struggled on it. So I moved to a new project, and I’ve struggled on that, too.

    This week, a friend made me realize what the problem is (or at least, I think this is it; I guess we’ll see if it fixes things!): The first book I wrote was because I had something burning inside of me. I had something in particular to say, not a plot and not a character, but more like a theme of the book. It was the raison d’être for the book. When I wrote my second book, I struggled for a long time because I didn’t have a raison d’être there, either. Once I got it, the book wrote itself, even though for some reason, I attributed it to the plotted spreadsheet I’d created and promptly forgot about the need for a reason … Until now, when I have realized, that’s what propels me to write. I can have all the interesting characters and plots and settings in the world, and I don’t care, until I know WHY I’m writing the story.

    • I’m the same way. I struggled with my sequel as well until I realized I wasn’t done with my story, I had more experiences to share. Now I’m getting through it quite easily. I guess that will always be my writing style. I have to start with a message or a purpose and then the story will create itself.

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