The Dreaded Writer’s Block

I was going to write about writers block and then I got it. Oh, the irony. Like many writers, I’ve suffered writers block many times. In fact, I’ve been struggling with it in my personal writing for well over a year now. There are a hundred ways of handling writer’s block but honestly I think there are several types of writer’s block. I’m not sure I’m the authority on telling you how to fix them (since I’m about ready to throw my CPU against the wall and snarl at it viciously) but I might be able to give some suggestions.

The first type I’ll address is coming up with a plot idea. There are a lot of times where I’ll develop this lush setting and awesome characters in my head, but then what would I have them do? Sit around and twiddle their thumbs? The best suggestion I have, and one that you’ll probably be hearing a lot in this blog entry, is to read. When I can’t write, I read. And when I can’t do that anymore, I get someone to carry me. (Points to anyone who gets the reference.) All joking aside, that’s somewhat true – I’ll watch movies. I know, uncool points to me for watching movies rather than reading but hey, sometimes it gets me through a rough patch.

The second type is getting your plot from point A to point B. My usual response is to take my problem to a few, trusted friends. They don’t have to even be writers. I’ll pitch them my plot and then talk over the details. Sometimes I hit gold, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes (and I’m showing my true nerd colors here) I’ll turn it into a tabletop roleplaying scenario for all of us to play through. Sometimes I get ideas that way, too. Naturally, I never use their characters or stories without their permission (and I make sure I get it in writing first, otherwise it could be a liability).

A few general ideas for handling writers block (if you’re not a nerd) are also just setting the manuscript down and walking away, cussing, for a while. And read, read, read. I’ll be honest with you: since at this point I make my living reading I am often loathe to read in my off time. As such, my “to read” stack has been piling up and my writing has been getting less and less inspired. I’ve noticed that immediately after reading (or while I’m reading) my writing becomes stronger. It’s a pretty incredible phenomonon that I’m sure science could provide an explanation for this phenomenon but it’s something that is in every book about writing I’ve ever read (and I have a veritable library of books on the subject).

While I am certain that I will revisit this topic in the future (perhaps when I’m not suffering from it), I think this is about the best advice I can give you at the moment. If anyone has any suggestions, leave them down in the comments section.

In other news – I hope everyone had as fantastic a holiday as I did! A very belated Merry Christmas (and happy holidays) and happy New Year!


6 thoughts on “The Dreaded Writer’s Block

  1. Good points, Erika. I just might try the roleplaying scene for future book brainstorming. When I feel creatively spent, I balance that output with creative input. It often helps me to go to the kitchen and do some cooking to clear my brain.

  2. One thing that helps me with writer’s block that you didn’t mention is playing the “what if?” game. I play around with putting my characters in different scenarios and try to make their reactions as natural to the way I’ve written their character as possible. Sometimes I hit on a plot I can use, and other times it just gets the “rust writing” out, which builds up momentum to write something I CAN use.

    These are great tips and they do help with writer’s block. Great post!

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