Monday, February 7, 2011

Crumbling the walls of writer's block

I've written a few posts recently about making writing goals, how I wanted to get a certain number of words per day and have my WIP finished by a certain date. I had such great intentions, but in the end intention =/= action.

I've been struggling with months and months (and months) of writer's block. It got the point where I forgot what was going on in my story and had to go back and review my words. This took a lot longer than expected, because I found myself editing along the way (I know, not recommended), and getting distracted from it all together. This has all culminated with me getting very fed up with myself.

So, without further ado, here are my tips for kicking writer's block to the curb, and taking some of my own advice:
  • Shut down the webs. Twitter - closed. Facebook - logged out. Blogger - gone. The only web thing I leave open is my trusty (I love that page).
  • Give myself permission to freak out for a moment about the fact that I don't know what the hell is going on with my story, then shut that down too.
  • Try something new. This is where I completely strayed from my traditional writing process, which makes me think I'm not as much of a Pantster as I thought. The tools I used were: pretty pens, notebook, note cards, computer. Here's what I did, written in handy dandy instructional form:
    1. Start with the notebook. Ask a question. Any question. If the 'what happens next' question is blocking you right now, ask something else. Anything to get the ideas flowing and the Muse warmed up. I keep a list of plot holes I need to resolve and started with one of those.
    2. If you're finding that the answer to one question leads to another, and then another, then you're doing it right. When your writing brain is feeling limbered up, try asking the 'what happens next' question. If it's still blocking you, maybe ask it in a different way, like 'what happens as a consequence of character X doing action A?'
    3. Not too imaginitive, right? It's ok, it doesn't need to be amazing, as long as it gets answers.
    4. Once you've got an idea of what happens next, grab the note cards and pretty pens. Sit yourself on the floor (more space to work that way) and start writing out ideas for scenes. Don't worry about order, just write them. Once you have them, then put them in order. When I did this, it turned out I only had four major scenes to go until the end of the WIP. Woop!
    5. Start writing! I ended up getting 4,371 words the day I did this.
  • Keep writing every day. Create a writing habit (will post about this later in the week, otherwise this would be a mammoth post).
  • Learn from others. I didn't come up with these ideas by myself. This is an accumulation of all the wonderful writing resources I've seen on the webs (check the Writing & Publishing Goodness links to the right). If you found this process helpful, I would definitely recommend checking out Holly Lisle's How to Think Sideways. I haven't even finished the course yet, and already I've gotten so much out of it. Also, she's adding new content in March, and the price of the course will be going up after March the 11th, so if you're interested, check it out now. If you're on the fence, Holly has heaps of free writing courses and articles on her website to check out first. What are you waiting for? Go forth and explore!

And that is all. I now have around 10k words left to go, and all that time I was stalled not realising how close I was to finishing.

What about you, do you ever suffer from writer's block? How do you go about beating it? What are your favourite writing resources? We'd love to hear about them.


  1. I'm with ya 100%. I've been floating in the limbo of wanting to write/ needing to edit/ not feeling either for over a month now and its starting to bum me out.

    I gotta take the initiative though, because in the end the only one holding me to my goals is me.

    You can do it!

  2. I finished my first manuscript in Novemeber with Holly's help. It was just something simple, and I have no idea what page/article I found it on but it said something like having a goal of 250 words a day which is nothing.

    You can write that in 30 min on a good day (maybe an hour on a bad one) and my final word count for the day almost always ended up in over a thousand.

    It's getting started that's the hard part. Once you do, it just comes out : )

  3. Good luck Lindz. I hope you get some writing and/or editing done. It's such a good feeling when you manage to do it!

    Sher, Holly's great! I love that she spends so much of her time trying to help other writers. I saw a sad post on her blog today :(.

    And it's so true that getting started is the hardest part. Once you've gotten over that hurdle the rest seems easy.

  4. These are all excellent suggestions! I do all those things, too, when I need to shake things up. I especially liked the "learn from others" one. Sometimes we get full of ourselves and think someone else does NOT know better from us. But sometimes? They really do. :)