Writing Advice: Dealing with Writer’s Block

Writers Block. That dread pirate that all writers fear. Writers block is that annoying absence of words spewing forth to the page as a writer is trying to write. To a writer It can be more than a little annoying when they are not there. You are a writer, you want to be able to sit down and write. A writer dedicates their time to it and for some it may be that late night when the kids are put down to sleep and for others it may be that few minutes between work shifts or between classes. Whenever it is, when a writer wants to write, they expect and want the words to be there. It is almost like a race car driver preparing to race only to realize that their cars out of gas. They have all the tools, just don’t have to fuel to go.

Many writers fear writers block. They worry that they might not be able to ever writer again. As irrational as it may be, that does happen. Sometimes, writers will start to go back and edit what they have already written and then get lost in a cycle of not feeling good enough to continue and will just continue editing and rewriting in a loop. It doesn’t matter. Wether a writer fears the block or not, it does happen to all of us. Here is some of my advice on how to get past the writers block.

The largest piece of advice that I can offer is not to fear writers block. I would even say embrace it. Just because a writers is not writing, it dodge’s mean the story is not developing. I feel that some writer’s experience writer’s block because their subconscious is telling them that something isn’t working. That is not to say that what the writer is working on is bad. Just that what they are writing is not exciting them enough to continue or there is some element that is not clicking.

I find that when I hit a writer’s block and it is as I am preparing to start a new chapter, that if I just let it go for a while, an amazing idea might strike me. Sometimes just going to take a shower, or a walk, and I won’t actively be trying to brain storm on my latest book, that there will be that moment. Just an odd thought sometimes, and at first it won’t even seem like it would relate to the character I am working with. Still, that idea is there and it is festering, cultivating until the time is write and everything crashes together. Then it is a race to the computer to get that idea from my head to the keys as fast as possible.

The key to that method is having confidence that the idea will come, and the confidence in yourself that if you give it time, it will hit you and make whatever you had originally planned for the chapter much the better for waiting. Confidence, a dirty word amongst writers, but that is the key in nearly everything what we do. Wait for it, and have confidence that the idea will come. 

This has a similar quality to the advice above. Not in the fashion that all a writer needs to do is wait, but that sometimes just getting the writer’s mind away from where they are stuck, it can inspire them. If a writer finds that they are stuck in a certain area, maybe take a break from it and either write a short story, start another project or even work on another part of the book.

It can be hard for a writer to take a break from the project they are working on. They are caught up in the story, killing themselves to get the words down. They want to keep going at it and can be on an amazing streak. It may seem like the creativity is just continuing to come. Then they hit that wall and it seems like everything is blocked off.

If the writer doesn’t want to take a break, sometimes they will try to continue writing. This can be bad. The words are flowing, but it comes out stiff. It is rough, and in the end it something the writer is not happy with. I have had chapters that I have written and then regretted. The argument if of course, well you were still writing, but what I was writing was crap. I guess, it can be said in this argument that yes, later, I did go back and fix it. I still am not a fan of just keep writing as I have found the other methods to be better and a more productive use of my time.

So instead, it might have been better just to start writing something else. Maybe work on a short story that they have had kicking around. Or, if it is just that part that is sticking the writer, they could even choose to work on a later part, another chapter. If the writer has their project outlined out, maybe work on another chapter. I am not a big fan of this method. I feel the story should be written in order and kept organic, but there are writers out there that can do this. I am amazed at how well they can do it, but their novels are very different from what I write. Jack Campbell, a writer of one of my favorite sci/fi series “Beyond the Frontier” has said that he will often write his novels out of order. If you read his work, you can see why this works for him as his fiction is very episode like so it feels like a collection of moments that work together as an excellent cohesive story.

The key to all of these elements is that the writer is working on something else to distract them from where they are stuck. Yes, they kept writing, you, keep writing. That is what is important, not to get frustrated and to keep writing. I know there is that fear that you might not return to it and it is a justifiable fear. Many writers, when they take a break, they give up on their writing project. That is on you, the writer. You have to have the drive and commitment. If you don’t, then you were not going to finish the project and that taking the break is just the excuse you are using not to finish. All I can say is don’t. If you keep writing, write something else, a blog, whatever you want to write but keep writing. If you keep the words flowing, you will eventually return to that story. Inspiration will hit you, you may just be washing the dishes and it will hit you, well if the character was washing the dishes in that scene, that would make sense for that next event that you were waiting to happen, happen. Have faith in yourself. We all face it, it is how you tackle it that defines the writer you will be.

Then of course there is always the last ditch effort. Get frustrated, and start the segment with a long sequence of curse words. For anyone who has read my work, they can probably identify that chapter. Hey, it worked, and I made it work for the character, and it probably turned out to be one of my better comical moments in my work.

 – Originally posted in 2015

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