I thought I’d put together a collaborative posts which include common questions new authors ask. I’ve asked my 6 author friends 10 questions, and over the coming week, you’ll get 1 question answered by 6 different authors. Enjoy!
Writer’s block … Does it exist or is it a myth?
I’ve spoken with writers who feel very strongly one way or another — that there definitely *is* or *is not* a thing called writer’s block. Me? Well, I’m not so certain. Based on personal experience, I can say that there have been times in my 15+ years of writing fiction when the words didn’t flow as easily. That was when I needed to spend more time “filling the creative well,” as Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, would say.
During those points in time, I’d read a bunch of novels by other writers that had stacked up by my bed or I’d binge-watch TV shows I’d never seen during my more productive writing periods. Sometimes, I think we just need to take a creativity break and let our subconscious work out story ideas or plot problems that might be puzzling us. But, after a few days or even a couple of weeks, I’d reenter the novel’s world again. I’d reread what I’d written up to that point and, almost always, I’d find myself ready to delve back into the manuscript, even if it was just being able to better edit a chapter I’d already written.
So, I guess, whether or not I’d actually label this experience “writer’s block'” my way of handling a period of time when I’m not being especially productive tends to be the same: Take off a handful of days to explore other thoughts, reread the manuscript with fresh eyes, and start making notes on what’s already been written or whatever scenes comes next. @MarilynBrand
Writer’s block is certainly real on both the idea and language levels. Sometimes you simply do not know where the story (fiction or non-fiction) is headed. Sometimes that particular section you’ve just written is completely wrong and you are struggling with firstly deciding this is the second and secondly deciding what to do about it. You may lack specific details from your research that you need in order to advance the story. And sometimes you simply do not know the best way to communicate the ideas in your head, especially the nuances that need specific and very precise word choices.
Whatever the reason, I tend to do at least one of the following three things: 1) read the passage aloud to listen for problems in the word choices and ideas, 2) go back to my research – read more, watch videos related to my subject matter etc., and/or 3) put the work aside for a bit until my head clears and I can see the bigger and smaller pictures effectively. Sometimes you are blocked because you get too close to whatever it is you are working on. A strong editorial pen really helps, but to effectively edit your work so it flows properly you need the space to become objective about it.
I actually suggest that everyone at least tries this method because it is quite effective for me in both my fiction and nonfiction writing. @LaurelWorlds
Writer’s block is not an urban legend…much to every author’s dismay. I was lucky and didn’t experience writer’s block with my first four novels, but when it did hit, boy, it packed one heck of a punch. I feel that writer’s block is different for each author, much like writing styles are different. For me, I’m what I call an emotional writer; I write a scene according to how I feel at the time. When writer’s block hit me, it was during my fifth novel, which I approached completely differently than anything I have done before. Deadlines and I don’t mix. Everyone handles things differently, so my advice to offer to other authors is to write in the way that works for them. @SkarenAnne
Yes, I believe in writer’s block. I especially get it when I’m extremely stressed. It’s like trying to bang through a brick wall. And once I have it, it’s hard to get rid of. Usually I try things like watching Mind’s Eyes, meditating, reading, switching the novels I’m writing. Anything to get the creative juices flowing. A couple of times I just tried pushing through it and continued to write even though I had nowhere to go, and let’s just say that did work well at all. The only thing that really cures it is time and patience.
The only advice I can give authors is listen to your characters, and be patient with them. There are going to be times where they don’t want to talk, but they will open up eventually. @kelseyKetch
Sure, I believe it! I just never suffer from it. Here’s the thing: As humans we need to do more to try to understand the sufferings of others, even when we don’t suffer. It’s part of being a fully functional human being. As it happens, I talk about sever kinds of fears that some people suffer in terms of both writing and marketing their writing in one of the early chapters of The Frugal Book Promoter (http://bit.ly/FrugalBookPromo). Among them are the fear of success (which marketing will help achieve), and the fear of failure (which I think is often part of writer’s block). @Frugalbookpromo
I believe we all get stuck from time to time. For me it usually means that the story is not working. I usually just re-read like what Marilyn said, then save what can be saved and file away the rest. I am not opposed to starting over.
My writing ideas usually come in spurts where I’d write like a fiend for a couple of months then NOTHING! I just step away, hike, read outside my genre, play video games or drown myself in music. I put my creative energy on something else. Bad Uncle (Family Portrait Book 5) has had such great feedback that I felt the pressure to make Book 6 surpass that, and that caused me to block for a couple of months. [bctt tweet=”I waited it out and now my characters are talking to me again. #Amwriting #WritersBlock”], I guess they went on holiday. @gillianfelix23
Thank you to all the authors who have been so wonderful in participating.
Readers please support these authors by reading their books, joining their mailing list or following them (online).
There is a lot of talk about Scrivener these days, next we talk about the writing software we use. Stay tuned.