Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Return of the Writer's Block

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but for the past week, I've had visitors from the Netherlands. It was great having them. We took them all over the area to enjoy the beauty of our landscape.

In addition, we went to places like lion sanctuaries etc. which I haven't ever been to before. Of course, all this is great for my muse. 

She's probably assimilating everything she saw into even more story ideas. 

Needless to say, I'm glad I had this week out in the world. 

But there's a bit of a hitch. Now that I'm back, I'm so exhausted that I can't seem to start writing. I'm past half-way with the Birds vs Bastards rewrite, but right now, I'm just staring at the empty page. Even though I've already written the whole thing. 

I already know what's supposed to happen. But for some reason, something about the section I'm supposed to start now, just doesn't want to come out. 

It's like something's clogging up my mind. Usually, I don't mind, because usually I know exactly what it is that's keeping me from writing a given story. Mainly, it's another idea, so the moment I sit down and write the idea out, I can go back to my main story. 

This time, though, I can't put my finger on it. I can feel the block. But there's just no visible reason for it. 

I haven't felt this way since I finished The Vanished Knight (Doorways, for those or you who missed the announcement). But I do remember. Days and weeks without writing anything because something snarled up my lines of thought. 

Getting so stuck that I couldn't even write a blog post. 

So in the scheme of things, this isn't too bad. And I already know what to do to make it better: 

Nothing. 


Forcing the issue never works. Even though I'd love to be all gung-ho and I'll-write-now-because-I-want-to, but that's not how my mind works. 

So, knowing that my self-imposed deadline for this rewrite is the end of September, I'm taking a gamble. I'm going to take time off from the rewrite (and any writing except blogging) until I'm good and ready to get back to it. Hopefully it'll be soon. 

How do you deal with writer's block? 

Before I go. I just want to take a moment to remember those who lost their lives or loved ones on 9/11. 

49 comments:

  1. I've never been a big believer in writer's block. Not to say some people don't have it, but I think for most of us, it's more likely we're wearing blinders and feel like we're blocked. If we only turned our head an inch, we'd get past the perceived blockage.

    I'm more likely to feel what you feel at present, where I know what needs to be done, but I just don't have the motivation to get it down. Like you, I just let it rest. I know my deadlines and I've never missed one yet.

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  2. I agree with you. I call it a block because there's no other way to put it. But I don't see an end to my words. Only a reason to sit back and let them return.

    I find that worrying and complaining about it only makes the issue worse, when it's not even a big issue.

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  3. I think they say just start writing anything, as long as you're writing. Write about your writer's block (as you just did!). But maybe the block is your body's way of telling you that you need a day or two to recuperate?

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    1. Yeah I think it's my mind.

      I write fiction from my subconscious mind, so it has this way of picking up on something I don't really see.

      So I wait until the problem either comes into focus or sorts itself out.

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  4. Ooo, I really like the title The Vanished Knight! Very compelling.

    When I feel this way, I know it's because something just isn't working right or I don't know where to go next. So I write a different scene or I work on something entirely separate from my novel. Or I read. Stepping away from the problem is the best way for me to gain a new perspective. If I still feel that way after trying those things, I eat chocolate (I'm a firm believer in the magic of the cocao bean!). I also like mind mapping.

    Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

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    1. Glad you like it. :-)

      And chocolate is awesome.

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  5. I'm wondering if you're just tired. Entertaining company can be draining. Maybe you just need to recharge for a day or so and then those words will come pouring out onto the page.

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    1. Could be that I'm tired. Either way, resting will help. :-D

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  6. I'm taking the day off from writing today in hopes that a little time away will shake my brain free. I'll pick it back up tomorrow, or maybe the next day. But I find forcing it never helps.

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  7. Hey woman, take a deep breath and take a break, eh? Go read a good book, rock out to some awesome tunes, watch a movie, or get out running. Those are my solutions for writer's block. I find the only time I run into it is when I'm too stressed to focus and I just need to let my mind mellow. Best of luck!

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    1. Thanks! I'll be following your advice closely. ;-)

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  8. You have to do what is best for you. If that means taking time off take as much as you need. Glad you'll still be blogging though.

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    1. Yep, it's a dire state of affairs indeed before I run out of words for blogging. :-)

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  9. I'm in a funk myself right now--and I totally know it's emotional/mental. I've been in them before, so I just have to not expect anything. I stop telling myself I *have* to get things done and just try to enjoy every day life and I know that the funk will leave. Inspiration slowly comes back. But it's SO difficult when we have goals and want to get things done! I feel your pain, Misha!

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    1. Yeah emotional/mental troubles can have a bad effect on writing. Good luck! I hope you get through them soon!

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  10. Sounds like you need some down-time after all the Busy that you went through with your house guests. I think that vacationing or having someone vacation at your home is very draining. I used to joke about needing a vacation from a vacation after it was all over.

    I like to read when I just don't feel able to write anything. I feel like reading is actually part of the writing experience, so I am not doing "Nothing." Rather I am allowing my mind the break it needs. And I think about my WIP while doing mundane tasks. After a little bit of this, I am inspired to get back to it.

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    1. Hahaha I know what you mean. I often take days off from writing after vacations, because they really can drain me.

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  11. If a scene doesn't want to come out for me I take a break. Usually I work on something else for a while, a different project or a different scene from the same project. Sometimes just taking time off will jiggle it free. But sometimes it needs more. Sometimes, if the scene isn't right it's because I'm doing it wrong. I'm trying to focus on the wrong thing. Maybe I'm using the wrong POV, or she setting is the wrong place. Sometimes switching it up really helps find what is supposed to happen, rather than what I think should happen.

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    1. I usually do that when I'm rough drafting, but when I'm rewriting, I prefer to keep things focused on one project at a time.

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  12. You're right that you can't force it.
    I spend months working on an outline, almost to the point that I am writing the book. That helps eliminate writer's block while I'm actually writing.

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    1. I definitely understand why an outline would help. I usually do an outline before a rewrite, though. Didn't help me this time. I think before something I planned for later ended up happening sooner.

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  13. Have you tried taking a nap or going for a bike ride. When I have an idea in my head that wont come out, any thing can get the rivers flowing again. But nothing does it quit like a good ole ride on two wheels. The thought of sitting back and doing nothing but pushing the pedals always gets my creative juices moving.

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    1. Haha I know exercise makes the difference, but in my country, I'd rather not take a bike ride.

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  14. Enjoy your "nothing"--you obviously need it. When i get like this I tell myself I may not be writing, but I'm certainly planning--and in reality that's exactly what I'm doing. ;-)

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    1. It's nice to feel a bit less pressure. I'm thinking I'll take one serious break after the rewrite so that I can do it guilt free. ;-)

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  15. When I get stuck, I go back a few pages and start reading. Usually by the time I get to that point, I'm caught up in it again and keep going.

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  16. Sometimes nothing is the best thing you can do. We all need breaks to refill the creativity well, so to speak.

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  17. I probably shouldn't say anything -- in the same vein as, say, not saying something like "hey! I haven't had a cold sore in YEARS!" -- but I've never had writer's block.

    Someone I respected once told me, "How in the world would you ever run out of things to write about?" and I thought "Yeah!"

    And I refused to look at it again.

    :-)

    That said, I HAVE had slow periods. And during those periods, I write anyway. Sometimes it's easy, and sometimes it's hard; but in the end, you can rarely tell, by the writing, if you wrote it on an easy day or a hard day.

    Greetings from Minneapolis!

    Pearl

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    1. Yeah I guess I can call this a slow period. I know I can write a lot if I move on to something else, but right now I don't really want to. :-/

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  18. When I get stopped up I put a lot of thought into figuring out what's making me un-excited about the scene. If I can't figure it out, I take the day off. Since I spent so much of the day thinking about it, usually I figure out the problem (and sometimes the solution) in my sleep.

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    1. That makes sense. I tend to wait it out, since thinking about it tends to make the answer more illusive.

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  19. Never had it. Hope to never have it. I have enough different projects and notes that I tend to always have something pushing on me to get finished.

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  20. Watching TV, reading, doing something other than writing. My schedule keeping me from writing when I want to be is the best un-blocker of all. Good luck.

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  21. I skip to a different part of the story. That usually helps me. Something about giving myself permission to jump to whatever part I want is freeing.

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    1. I've heard that it helps, but I find that skipping bits messes with my method too much. :-D

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  22. R.A. Salvatore said something once that always stuck with me. "There is no such thing as writer's block, it is just lack of confidence." I agree though the only thing to do is let bit of time pass, read, watch some movies. It always comes back to us.

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    1. Yeah I don't believe that it's permanent. :-)

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  23. I don't know if I've ever experienced true writer's block and I'm not even sure I know what it is. What I go through is a simple lack of desire to write. I've gone long periods (years) of not writing and then I get very prolific. It used to bother me, but I don't care anymore. It's how I work/write. I think your attitude is very healthy. It could be you wake up tomorrow all set to go, or it could be next week. The point is, don't sweat it.

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  24. So I read somewhere once that writer's block happens cuz the left side of your brain is battling with the right side. Your left side wants to organize and control the process, which infringes on the creative freedom of the right side. Makes sense if you think about it. You just have to find a way to turn that left side off for a little while. Give yourself the permission to be messy--even if it means opening up a separate word doc and just going free flow. Put on some headphones, and try something different to get back in the zone. Write a new scene or write a letter from one of your characters, or a journal entry.
    And if you're just plain burnt out, take more time off to romance your muse. :)
    I can't wait to visit SA someday. It's on my Bucket List.

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    1. That makes sense.

      I'm actually both logical and creative, so I can see how the left side might want to mess around when I'm writing.

      And definitely visit South Africa. Especially now. Our currency is weak, so it's very VERY cheap for foreigners to tour here. :-)

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  25. I didn't do any writing this summer and I'm not doing any writing this month. I'm working at uncluttering/simplifying everything in my life so I start out in October with a renewed want to get back into writing. Good luck with getting past your writer's block.

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    1. Sounds like a good plan. In the long run you'll be able to write in less chaos. :-)

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  26. I know what you mean, Misha.
    Our minds work in strange ways. I find the process fascinating. When my mind blocks I know it is getting ready for something...
    Then the ideas may start erupting like wild horses.
    Getting blocked is an excuse to read more and more. Writer's block is always followed by an outburst of new ideas.

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