Friday, September 30, 2011

How I Write-- Writer's Block (or how I fight the monster in the shadows)

This week, my Accountability group are going to answer the following questions: This week's topic is writer's block? Fact or myth? How do you deal with it?

I think writer's block can definitely happen. It's the monster in the shadows, feeding on muse crack. I'm always envious of those who can claim they don't believe in it, those who force themselves to keep moving, despite the block. That is the most disciplined writer, those who can stand up to the monster and look it in the face and then reach into its throat and pull out that half-devoured muse crack back out.

Me? I'm still working on it.

There are ways to hold off that monster, by having a file of ideas, but sometimes, that's not as easy as it sounds. Sometimes the words is what's blocked... a writer block's mutation version of mental constipation. For me, this is the worse. It's when the ideas are all there and I KNOW what I want to write but it just won't come out.

Or what about writer's block's bad boy cousin, procrastination? Now that one... he's one slick beast, luring me with the sparkly pictures and ideas on Pinterest or my TBR pile. I'd like to say that procrastination helps with the writer's block (my excuse), but no, it doesn't. I've fallen victim to this dirty scheme way too many times to know better. And the thing with procrastination, is that it's addicting. It's a drug. I can't just read one chapter. One chapter becomes three and then I find myself having wasted all day and the book done. But oh, there's always more books, procrastination whispers, 'not like you wasted the time. You were studying writing'.

Yeah, that excuse doesn't fly when you have deadlines and books to write.

So what DOES work? What will beat back the dreaded writer's block and stop it in its track before it inhales your musecrack and causes word-constipation? BICHOK--butt in chair, hands on keyboard-- is something a lot of people say works. By showing up, you should be able to write. Not really. Not when that monster is on your shoulder and devouring the words before they even form in your mind. How can showing up help if you are just staring at a screen, fighting tooth and nail for every word? It doesn't.

For me, keeping busy helps the most. I'll clean the apartment and do the dishes. Go shower. I'm not sure what it is about water but somehow, this helps. I read somewhere once that it had to do with re-energizing ions in the body or something, but whatever the reason, things come easier when I'm being busy. I don't mean busy in the -I-Need-To-Concentrate-Or-I-May-Hurt-Myself, like chopping up veggies or something, but, mindless chores. I said once that I'm a daydreamer. I daydream the scenes I'm having trouble with. I put myself in the shoes of the characters and play the scene out. I note the dialogue and what happens.

When that doesn't help, I listen to music. Loud. And yes, I give in to procrastination and play games... and while I play these games, daydream those scenes that are giving me fits. As much as I'd like to blame procrastination for everything, it does help at times. Pinterest is good at giving me ideas because you can create collages of ideas for characters and scenes and whatnot and that can help to fight off writer's block.

I don't know if there will ever be a surefire way of fighting it off, but for me, these things help. In small doses, that is.

For more on what my friends have learned while writing, click on their links!

Danie Ford
Emma G. Delaney
Kimberly Farris
Kristen Koster


  1. Procrastination is an evil beast. I liked how your ways of keeping busy fed in with my idea of doing repetitive, wordless tasks that free up your mind to work on the problem while you relax everything else.

    I think all we can do is keep moving forward. Even a pittance of words can help get things moving. ;)

  2. I hate mental constipation. The words are right on the tip of your tongue and you know they're good words, but you can't get them out.

    Describing writer's block as the monster in the shadows, feeding on muse crack is dead on.

    Enjoyed your post.

  3. There's just something about bad boys that a girl finds irresistible! Just like writer's block's bad boy cousin, procrastination.

    At least you have a plotting feline at your disposal!