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VII. Support GR Authors > WRITER'S BLOCK-how do you get over it?

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message 1: by Dan (new)

Dan Norman | 15 comments WRITER' BLOCK

I saw that someone wrote about writer's block. Well, I'll put in my two cents.

I've read about 5 books on how to write novels, and I know there are different ways to write novels. I personally write from the beginning to the end, while some people enjoy writing the good parts and then tie the good parts together with connective tissue.

I imagine that if you use the latter technique writer's block comes after you've written all the fun stuff and are now stuck with connecting everything you've written.

But, if you are like me and write from beginning to end, you have highs and lows writing when you are going from juicy scene to connective tissue.

THIS IS HOW I GET OVER WRITER'S BLOCK. I tell myself to write just ONE sentence. It doesn't even have to be a good sentence. It could be passive, out of tense whatever. Sometimes I ask myself, "WHAT DO YOU WANT TO TELL THE READER." I will actually write-this is what I'm trying to say. But just write the one sentence and usually when the first sentence is down, the second is easier and then the third comes and so on.

BTW, I just had a fun night of adding 1000 words to my novel. I got to describe some fun stuff! Hope you all had fun today too!

www.danieljnorman.com


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Luckily, I don't suffer from writer's block, but then I'm not a prolific author. 2 of my novels are long 1, a crime novels is 80,000 words which, is standard.

I am fortunate in that I belongd to a brilliant writers group, which met every Wednesday night. I would be so stimulated by the feedback I received I was unable to sleep on Wednesday nights.

Perhaps writers groups are good for preventing or curing writers block.


message 3: by Cheryl (new)

Cheryl Landmark (clandmark) | 242 comments I'm like you, Dan. I start at the beginning and keep writing until the end. Sometimes, I'll run into a snag in a chapter where the ideas just refuse to come at first. When that happens, I'll step away from the story for a bit and think about exactly where I want to go with it. Usually, when I'm doing something else--housework, going for a walk, reading--the ideas will suddenly start flowing again and I'll find myself back in the fantasy world I want to create. Fortunately, this writer's block doesn't happen very often. On the contrary, I sometimes find the ideas coming so fast and furious that I have to force myself to leave my imaginary world so that I can deal with the real world.

I think every writer probably deals with writer's block differently just as they tackle the writing process differently.


message 4: by C.L. (new)

C.L. | 34 comments Hi, I thought I would comment because I do get writer's block, and the way I get through it is to keep writing. Unlike Dan and Cheryl I start by writing individual scenes which I then bring together from beginning to end. If I get blocked in some detail, and I write mysteries so details abound, I continue on and later in the story I find that I write a detail that answers what I got stuck on earlier. Or as I phrase it, the answer gives me the question. I then go back and fill in the gaps. Also, I write novellas, which are shorter than novels, but that's just the way I write.
I don't know if it helps or not, but it's how I get through it.


message 5: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 27, 2011 01:10PM) (new)


message 6: by Dan (last edited Mar 27, 2011 01:40PM) (new)

Dan Norman | 15 comments Joanna, very jealous of your writes group. I'm an introvert, online stff is better for me.

Cheryl, like you sometimes the best way is to do something else. I will get inspired by audiobooks of all things. I also do a trick of stopping right in the middle of a good scene. That way I can start up and gain momentum right off the bat.

CL I admire your persistence. I'm afraid if I did that I'd write all the good scene and never connect them.

Thanks for the link pocket mouse.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Dan wrote: "Thanks for the link pocket mouse. "

You're welcome :)


message 8: by Betty (new)

Betty Carlton (betcar1) | 4 comments This is what I do, and it works for me. So I put it in my bloga while ago. Maybe it would work for someone else as well.

http://bettysbloggingplace.blogspot.c...


message 9: by Antoinette (new)

Antoinette (httpwwwantoinettelaforcecom) | 5 comments I don't get Writer's Block. I have the opposite problem. I can't get stories down fast enough ! BUT, if I did get it I wouldn't stress too much. That probably makes it much worse. Instead, I'd kick back, doing something I really loved and I'd wait for the ideas to naturally come to me.


message 10: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Rainey (jennifer_rainey) | 65 comments I speak through the scene I'm trying to write aloud. Narration, dialogue, specific character voices, the whole nine yards! Don't knock it, it works... even if you do look a little mental while doing it. :P


message 11: by Robin (new)

Robin Allen BIC - Butt in Chair - 2 hours/day (usually more), 6 days/week.
I don't have to write, but I can't do anything else.
I usually write.

-Robin Allen
If You Can't Stand the Heat (Poppy Markham Culinary Cop) by Robin Allen


message 12: by Robin (new)

Robin Allen Jennifer wrote: "I speak through the scene I'm trying to write aloud."

I do this, too, Jennifer. It really does help.


message 13: by Carol (new)

Carol Cassada (carolcassada) | 27 comments I usually take a break from writing, then I try to relax and picture the story in my mind, the characters, the setting, the scenes. Then I'm ready to go again.


message 14: by Patti (new)

Patti Roberts | 93 comments Carol wrote: "I usually take a break from writing, then I try to relax and picture the story in my mind, the characters, the setting, the scenes. Then I'm ready to go again."

I have never had writers block but if i did i think I would walk away for a while too and just try to feel the story and the characters. Listen to them, converse with them. Which is basically what I do all the time anyway. When I'm not dreaming about them!!! Noisy little critters....


message 15: by Larry (new)

Larry Moniz (larrymoniz) Just thought I'd share a tidbit from Chapter 3 of my book: "Self-Promotion for Authors," in which I say: Other writers have told me they experience writers block on a fairly frequent basis. Others get it only rarely. While I am unable to prove the existence, or myth, of writer’s block, I do get suspicious when I hear a “writer” claim their Muse has left them. The dictionary defines Muse (noun, capitalized) as “any of the nine sister goddesses in Greek mythology presiding over song and poetry and the arts and sciences.” Another Merriam-Webster definition of muse (verb) is “to become absorbed in thought; especially : to turn something over in the mind meditatively and often inconclusively.”

Having spent most of the last 45 years meeting journalism or public relations deadlines, I have to question whether writer's block even exists. Nothing gets the creative juices flowing faster than the danger of getting fired for failing to produce.

As an author, it's more difficult because of solitary writing lifestyle. One possible solution: Walk into the bathroom, look in the mirror and tell yourself to @X#&@ get back to work! :-) Hope that helps.

Self-Promotion for Authors by Larry Moniz


message 16: by Patti (new)

Patti Roberts | 93 comments Larry wrote: "Just thought I'd share a tidbit from Chapter 3 of my book: "Self-Promotion for Authors," in which I say: Other writers have told me they experience writers block on a fairly frequent basis. Other..."

LOVE IT!!! :)))


message 17: by Riley (new)

Riley Steel (rileysteel) | 12 comments i try to write something, anything everyday. I usually have five or six books on the go at once so im usually in a certain mood and write accordingly


message 18: by Larry (new)

Larry Moniz (larrymoniz) OMG, how do you keep that many plot lines straight?


message 19: by J.R. (new)

J.R. | 454 comments Larry wrote: "Just thought I'd share a tidbit from Chapter 3 of my book: "Self-Promotion for Authors," in which I say: Other writers have told me they experience writers block on a fairly frequent basis. Other..."

Any of us who've worked as journalists will agree with you, Larry. Agree 100 percent with your solution to the problem.


message 20: by Gary (last edited Aug 04, 2011 08:04AM) (new)

Gary (authorponzo) | 54 comments I listen to music. If that doesn't help. I shoot up black tar heroin, that seems to get the creative juices flowing again. Except I can never find the keyboard and all my characters are named "Dude."


message 21: by Kelli (new)

Kelli (kelli4321) | 27 comments I don't know if I've ever had "Writer's block" I slow down occasionally but the flow has never stopped for me. I think though that I would just keep writing. Just write through it. I guess that's what I do if I ever get a little stuck. I just write more than I think and I seem to get over that hump lol.


message 22: by Ron (new)

Ron (roncn) | 8 comments I've suffered plenty of "Writer's block". The most glaring case, I took a year to write the final two chapters for the last book in a series. During that time, I did what's been mentioned in the thread: step back, chill, think about something else.

But there is a problem with doing such a thing. If you step back, the story dies. Simple as that. For each day you stay away from your MS, character connections will become fuzzier, nice twists you wanted to insert will flee your mind, and your motivation will only grow weaker.

Now, I like to think I've matured as a writer. I find that I have just one way to overcome the dreaded block: stand proud, glare straight at it, and tackle it on. That's what finished my novel, ultimately: "the muse" never came back, but I re-read the last chapter, sat down and dragged her back yanking by the hair in a rather troglodite way. True, the first sentences I produced were slow. The first paragraph took forever. But the next was more fluid. And the next, even better.

And I wrote the last 3K-word chapter in one go.

So, Robin's BIC and Larry's mirror techniques or your own variation of it: that's the only way forward, I think.


message 23: by Larry (new)

Larry Moniz (larrymoniz) Ron wrote: "I've suffered plenty of "Writer's block". The most glaring case, I took a year to write the final two chapters for the last book in a series. During that time, I did what's been mentioned in the th..."

Ron, good for you! I love the description of dragging that muse back by the hair! Sometimes a good swift kick in the pants is the only way. Even if you had to go back and rewrite that last chapter you would still have been ahead of the game. The most fearsome thing a writer ever faces is a blank page.

Best,


message 24: by Larry (new)

Larry Moniz (larrymoniz) J.R. wrote: "Larry wrote: "Just thought I'd share a tidbit from Chapter 3 of my book: "Self-Promotion for Authors," in which I say: Other writers have told me they experience writers block on a fairly frequent..."

Thanks J.R. Yep, first you learn to fear the editor and before long (to paraphrase Pogo) he is us.


message 25: by J.R. (new)

J.R. | 454 comments So true, Larry. I went from reporter to editor, so I know both sides of that fence.


message 26: by Vered (new)

Vered (vered_ehsani) Nice thread! I don't get writer's block ever, in the sense of not being able to write. However, if I find that I am sticking around too long on a scene or a sentence, getting hung up on a word or what this character should say next, I just skip it. I go to the next line or scene or even the next chapter and write that. Later I come back when I feel fresher. Guaranteed (for me) to work out any bugs that were slowing me down. Writer's block can sometimes be just a case of getting too fixated on some detail that isn't clearing itself up.


message 27: by Julie (new)

Julie (jataylor) | 5 comments This IS a good thread because writing styles and processes vary so much.

From my perspective, pulling in Larry's comments along with several others - I keep writing. Usually I'll skip to another scene/chapter/event and jump in. Although it is my tendency to write the most compelling events or scenes first and build my story through these junctions anyway.

If I'm stalled (I don't like "blocked" - I can keep writing, it's just a question of "is it any good?"), the process of writing is also my reset and a few paragraphs usually does it. The key is that I don't worry about the usefulness of these sections...either I become absorbed in the new scene and surge forward, or the new bit isn't worthy so my interest is renewed in the work before.


message 28: by John (last edited Aug 08, 2011 10:42PM) (new)

John Rykken (totenking) Great thread, great topic.

One of my favorite quotes about writing comes from Ernest Hemingway. "Do not worry," he wrote. "You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know."

I know this quote does not speak directly to writer's block. It's more about writer's anxiety in general, but it has always helped me when I've been stuck. It's taped to my computer, in fact. When I'm stalled, I read it and think, "Okay, then. How would my character honestly and truly react in this situation?" Or, "What does this setting truthfully look like, smell like, feel like?"

And a lot of times that helps. But that's mostly for the day-to-day stuff, when I'm already in the flow of writing a book, when the words are coming.

When I am truly stuck, however (like Ron, I was once stuck on the same damned four chapters for about six months), I do one of two things. I either grit my teeth and hammer through it, like Ron suggested. Or I smoke and drink coffee and think and think until I figure out what's wrong with the plot or characters and figure out why I'm stalled. Eventually I come up with an answer (e.g. the plot was stupid and needed to be revised or trimmed; a character was flat, etc.), make changes and start writing again.

Anyhow. That's my long-winded two cents, for what it's worth. I like all of the diverse viewpoints here.


message 29: by John (new)

John Rykken (totenking) Nicola wrote: "i try to write something, anything everyday."

Yes!


message 30: by Patti (new)

Patti Roberts | 93 comments Gary wrote: "I listen to music. If that doesn't help. I shoot up black tar heroin, that seems to get the creative juices flowing again. Except I can never find the keyboard and all my characters are named "Du..."

good one Dude!


message 31: by Emily (new)

Emily Snyder (emilycasnyder) | 16 comments I find that music also really helps...as does writing at obscenely early hours of the morning as part of not sleeping. I also heard a tip once that seems to help: stop writing at a point when you DO know what is supposed to happen next, so that when you return to it, you know where's you're going.


message 32: by Patti (new)

Patti Roberts | 93 comments Emily wrote: "I find that music also really helps...as does writing at obscenely early hours of the morning as part of not sleeping. I also heard a tip once that seems to help: stop writing at a point when you ..."

yes, sleep does suffer somewhat :(


message 33: by Marcus (new)

Marcus Malone (MarcusMalone) | 13 comments I have to agree with Larry on this one.

I’ve been a professional writer for over 35 years and worked in environments from sole staff writer for a small company, to a senior writer in a large publications department that resembled a desk warehouse. I’ve also written freelance under contract.

Simply put, you can’t get away with spending 8 hours on the clock without producing 8 hours worth of work, and the thought of claiming “Writer’s Block” as an excuse for missing a deadline is laughable.

Writing is a serious business. I’ve written technical documents for the aerospace industry that people’s lives depended on – literally! (Yes, a lot of eyes look at these documents before they go out the door.) Writing requires careful research, planning, and preparation; ask any technical writer, journalist, copywriter, etc.

Creative writing is somewhat different, but it also needs to be taken seriously, and it also requires research, planning, and preparation; you can’t simply start writing and expect good results.

IMHO, “Writer’s Block” doesn’t exist. Specifically:

If you’re stuck on what should happen next, then you don’t know your plot.

If you’re stuck on how a character should react or respond, then you don’t know your character.

If you’re stuck on what setting should be used, then you don’t know your world.

If you’re stuck on a passage that doesn’t exactly convey the action, scene, feelings, etc. that you intend, fine; soldier on and re-write it until it does.

Should you find yourself “stuck” on any of the first three “ifs” above, then take some time to plan your novel out in more detail in terms of plot, character, how your character will change as a result of the story, define the rules of your world, etc. Also outline subplots and twists. When should they kick-in? What set-up do you need for the most impact? In all cases, the time taken to plan and outline the piece will more than offset savings in writing time, or time wasted in “Writer’s Block”. More importantly, careful planning will yield better results.

In short, the best way to get over “Writer’s Block” is take some time to plan your work in more detail. But, don’t just put it away claiming “Writer’s Block”.

To quote Yoda (of all things) “Try not! Do, or do not.”


message 34: by Larry (new)

Larry Moniz (larrymoniz) Marcus wrote: "I have to agree with Larry on this one.

I’ve been a professional writer for over 35 years and worked in environments from sole staff writer for a small company, to a senior writer in a large pub..."


Marcus, I hope every author on GoodReads sees your comments here and takes them to heart. Even if authors know them, your commentary will serve as a crucial reminder to us all. I especially like your second and fourth paragraphs concerning eight hours of work for eight hours on the clock. Also "Creative writing is somewhat different, but it also needs to be taken seriously, and it also requires research, planning, and preparation; you can’t simply start writing and expect good results."
Would that it could be tattooed on the inside of every creative writer's eyelids!

Thank you for some outstanding reminders of ways to achieve quality as well as quantity in producing skilled writing.

Have a great week.


message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

Larry wrote: "Just thought I'd share a tidbit from Chapter 3 of my book: "Self-Promotion for Authors," in which I say: Other writers have told me they experience writers block on a fairly frequent basis. Other..."

Congratulations, Larry Moniz, you have won the jackass of the month award. You habitually post contentious, adversarial comments that anger and alienate the very readers and authors who might buy your books. Only a jackass would shoot himself in the foot like that. Oh, and we’ve seen your website. If you were really the savvy professional you claim, you’d have a website from a recent decade, instead of a website that looks like it was designed by a flunky from an elementary-school web design class. Given all these things, we can conclude only one thing about you.

You’re a hack!

Oh, and the picture of you with your awards is sad and ridiculous.


message 36: by Cate (new)

Cate (writermonkey) | 4 comments I do a lot of brainstorming and prep work-A LOT-before I begin writing. I storyboard each scene in a Steno notebook (1 pg./scene) before I write it, then I concentrate on the various elements of that scene individually (Setting, Action/Image, Dialogue). Thus, if I'm stuck on one aspect and I usually break through the block by focusing on one of the others. By the time I get it into the computer it's pretty much a rewrite.

I've found that by moving DOWN the page instead of ACROSS when I'm brainstorming/planning a scene it kicks my brain into a different gear altogether.


message 37: by Larry (new)

Larry Moniz (larrymoniz) You have an interesting method and, based on what you say, it's effective for you. Great. That's half the secret of developing a story, at least from my viewpoint. The other half involves someone actually sitting down at the keyboard and forcing themselves to compose a scene/paragraph/chapter/whatever. Once something is down, it's merely polishing that's needed.


message 38: by POW (new)

POW | 43 comments For me, writer's block is like trying to smash open a coconut. If you're not getting into your story, attack it from a slightly different angle, but stick at it and type.
At least that's what I do.
POW


message 39: by Eryn (new)

Eryn Lockhart (ErynLockhart) | 20 comments I don't generally get over writer's block...I work around it. Sometimes, I'm just burned out on a particular story, and anything I write on it until I get that zing back will be sub-standard. So, rather than hack away at pages of prose that I know I'm going to can later, I'll work on a different story.

If writers block hits, I simply move on to a different project.

I may need a break from one story, but I don't need a break from all of them. There's always something I want to write about, and on the days when that doesn't happen to be the manuscript I first open in MS Word, I'll simply pull up the reserves. It's a divide and conquer approach that works for me. Admittedly, one of the main reasons it works is possibly because I'm an independent author. I write stories under my own deadlines, but I get them done just the same :)


message 40: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 01, 2011 07:38AM) (new)

The way I get over writer's block -- wait until it passes.

Like most others, I have read books on writing and tried what seems like a million different things to get rid of my bouts of writer's block. But, no matter what technique I may try -- writing a little at a time, writing a different story, sitting down and furiously typing something -- the story never turns out right. I end up hating what I wrote, every time.

So, I wait. I go online and do some marketing. I chat with friends. I read a book that isn't mine. I edit over what I have written.

But I don't write anything new, don't push it. And then usually, a few days later, I have a writing bug again. Sometimes, you just can't push it.


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