Ask The Writers: Overcoming Writer’s Block

Writer’s block.

Two innocuous looking words, responsible for a lot of misery.  What is writer’s block?  In some ways, writer’s block is like procrastination.  You may be reluctant to work on a writing project because of fear:  you are unsure whether the project will succeed, or you are apprehensive about tackling a mountain of intellectual complexity.

You may also be procrastinating because you don’t feel motivated to write.  I’ll be the first to admit that writing is hard work: it’s natural to wish, sometimes, that you could watch a Bruce Lee marathon instead.  If your writing goals are not dictated by hard deadlines, it may be even harder to work steadily at the task, no matter how important you think it is or how much you enjoy it.  It’s all too easy to defer the things you want to do in the course of the things you have to do (or think you have to do).

In some ways, though, writer’s block is different from other forms of procrastination; staring unproductively at the blank page is different from ignoring that linen closet you should organize.  Many times, a writer wants to write but can’t get the ideas to flow.  Because it’s inherently creative, our writing is imbued with ideas about who we are.  Following the writing process means confronting ourselves, and sometimes that can be a tricky proposition.

So today, I’d like to ask you — the writers — to share your techniques for dealing with and overcoming writer’s block.  What do you do to get those ideas flowing?

What strategies work for you when you have to get it done?  When you want to get it done?

You all have some amazing ideas: I can’t wait to see what you come up with.


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3 Responses to Ask The Writers: Overcoming Writer’s Block

  1. marmelade says:

    so … i’m not the only one. well, i usually have days when i write 5-6 pages a day, even more, and i have days, or weeks, when i can’t even begin to write. usually when i’m starting to doubt myself. so what do i do? i do stuff that make me feel good, until i can actually get in the mood for writing. or, but i wouldn’t recommend that, i force myself to write, even though i don’t feel inspired, telling myself that i’ll revise the chapter later. the only thing you gain is that you move forward with the story.

  2. loren says:

    Hi, Marmelade — great point. Moving forward with the story is sometimes the only thing we can do. Of course, it’s also the most important thing we can do: writers write, right?

    If you haven’t already, I hope you will become a regular reader by subscribing to Writing Power’s RSS feed. And be sure to check out Writing Power’s Writers’ Circle for some great support and feedback!


  3. Elfkiller says:

    Most of the writing that I do is for role playing games, writing character background and plot twists, things like that. I have a game every week that I run, and I usually only have one night, sometimes only a few hours to create the meat of the story. Starting up from scratch, like I’m attempting tonight, is very difficult. However at other times the ideas come flowing out at such a pace that my hands can’t keep up. I grab every scrap of paper and spew forth content in a short hand that I can barely understand myself. Often, the ideas are for my current story line. Other times, I get great ideas that are useless to me this week. However, as I type this, a stack of ideas is two inches from my left hand. I will pore over them and pick up what I can to kick start that flow that will bring out interesting new character and story line to enjoy this weekend.

    So, my advice is to always keep a pen and a few scraps of paper with you, and stop to write down those ideas. Sometimes I’ll even write a few key words on my arm or hand, because the ideas that fire off my creativity are just that precious.

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