Last week, I shared with everyone my struggles with writer’s block (nasty, nasty stuff). I have two chapters left to write on my WIP and it’s just not happening. The little voices that normally sit on my shoulder and FORCE me to write their story have disappeared. My own fault? Yep. Most definitely. I have allowed myself to become easily distracted by shiny distractible things (twitter, blogging, SQUIRREL, etc…)
Now, the wonderful thing about twitter and blogging has been the online support from people, who I’ve never met, who were quick to offer words of wisdom, support, and encouragement. For the most part, writing is a solitary endeavor. We’re on our own. The people in our lives love us and encourage us to write, but because they’re not writers they simply don’t “get us.” When they say, “Just write it,” they don’t realize how difficult that can be to do. So, yes, twitter and the blogging world has squirreled away my imagination, but to be able to surround myself with HUNDREDS of like-minded people who “get me” is something I’m extremely thankful for. The support is amazing.
As a way of paying it forward, I want to share this advice with you. Maybe something someone said will resonate and give you the push you need to just keep writing, or if nothing else, will let you know writer's block will pass.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to help me. A great big MUU-AH to you. Now some of the advice was practical, while a few others a little more unconventional, but who's to say what would work and what wouldn't. I posted them all.
Katrina Lawrence: step away from the writing and immerse yourself in your favorite book for a few hours, that always helps me!
Ryan Louis Schneider: If you paint yourself into a corner, change corners. ie work on a different story. Begin a new tale perhaps. Make it fun. ArrEllEss.com
Jason McKinney: I grab a V8 and watch mind-numbing stuff like Spongebob w/the kids. Diverting your mind with nonthinking things works. Jason McKinney
Barbara Nordin: How to Write When You'd Rather Set Your Hair on Fire: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klSM3-xrNgQ
All But Dissertation No More
Ara Trask: I'm in a similar situation right now. It doesn't help the winter makes me depressed, and of course Twitter distracts me constantly. But I have begun one exercise that has helped me begin writing again. A PAPER journal. Not a blog, but a notebook I carry around with me that I have set up the following rules for: 1. Write something in it every day, no matter if it's 2 pages or 2 sentences. 2. From now on, all notes about my WIP will be entered in said journal, so they will be easier to find and cataloge. 3. Anything going on in my life while I'm writing this WIP is relevant, because later, I will want to know what was distracting me through the writing process. This includes the music I'm listening to, the place I'm currently writing, or if I'm out of town. 4. Any findings from interesting research should be noted in this journal. This keeps my collection in one place, and me always thinking about how I'm going to work on my story. South of Sanity
Sarvenaz Tash: I am also in an eerily similar situation (though I'm nowhere near an ending. I wish!). I freaked out for a couple of weeks. And then, this week, I decided NOT to write. I'm taking a writing-free week and I'm spending all my free time reading instead. It's too early to say whether this will ultimately work, but I'm definitely seeing some signs that a creative spark might be on the horizon. It's the best I've felt about the WIP in weeks so I'm hoping it IS the right thing to do. Or do you have something else you can work on? I think the answer may be to just stop focusing on it so much and maybe your subconscious will have had the answer for you all along! Sarvenaz Tash
Ashley: I recently just blogged about this very problem myself! Twitter, and blogging, and just plain life get in the way of my writing all the time too. Here's a few things that helped me get to the end of my WIP:
- I forced myself to sit down and start writing. I told myself it's a first draft so if it sucks I can go back and fix it.
- Music- music definitely gets those creative juices flowing and the voices talking
- Taking a walk- getting outside and moving really help me to work out plot points in the WIP. A car ride is always an option too, although gas prices in my neck of the woods are HORRIBLE. Coffee Spoons
Nancy Lauzon: It happens to all of us. What a block means for me is there is something off in my WIP, a character, a plot issue, something ... and until I figure that out, I stay blocked. So I walk away, clear my head and think about the story. After a few days the answer usually comes to me, and the block disappears. Maybe this will work for you. Good luck and happy writing! Nancy Lauzon
Allison Maynard: I'm with Sarvenaz on this one. I know it goes against the gospel of you must write something every day, but sometimes if it ain't happening, it ain't happening. Don't freak out! I think there's two sorts of writers "block". There's the sort you just have to power through and keep going. The distracted by twitter, sunshine, cute doggies, pretty shoes that you can order online etc. type of block falls into that category, as does the x thousand words in and starting to feel like hard work sort of block. But I think there is another kind, which is when you've forced it as far as you can and you do just need a break. Everyone needs a break now and then - why should writers be any different? I had an experience very similar to what you describe when working on 2nd draft of a script a couple of years ago. It felt, just as you describe, like a wall had dropped down in front of me which was not going to shift. In the end I took a break (not through choice - there just didn't seem to be any other way). About 4 weeks later I was walking home from somewhere and the end of the story popped pretty much fully formed into my head (an ending which was completely different to the first draft version I'd stalled trying to "fix"). So I'd say, if you've proved to your own satisfaction that it's not one you can just write through, then take a break. Don't write at all for a week or two, and then if necessary write something else short to ease you back in.
If you've had some writer's block miracle that you'd be willing to share, please leave a comment with your advice and I will include it in the above list. Pay it forward. Who knows? Maybe your suggestion might be the ONE thing a struggling writer needed to hear to push past their own writers block.