August 24, 2011

Kicking the Crap Outta Writer's Block

So, like I do every morning (part of the ole routine), I checked out what the people over at YA Highway had to say.  It's Road Trip Wednesday over there, so the question they have posed to everyone is:  "How do you beat writer's block?"  Oooo, good one.  Let's see...

Well, since I'm pretty new to this whole writing fiction thing, I only know what is working for me right now:
  1. Most important thing of all--BUTT IN CHAIR.  Heard that one probably a million times, but it couldn't be more true.  The simple act of plopping myself in front of my computer is a giant boot in the junk to writer's block.  Take that!
  2. I force myself to write, no matter what, even if what ends up on the page is total crud.  I have a daily word goal of 1000 words...most days.  Sometimes that's a struggle, and sometimes I actually allow myself to take the day off (*gasp*). 
  3. I don't allow myself to get hung up on something that isn't quite the way I want it (a word, a phrase, description, you name it).  If I allow myself to sit and stew over something I am dissatisfied with, I'll end up abandoning it in frustration.  I've come to realize that if it's not exactly right it doesn't matter because I'll come back to it later probably several times in fact.  To make this a little easier, I change the font colour to red for those words, phrases, or even whole paragraphs that need tweaking.  Sometimes I'll simply put in parentheses that I need more on a particular topic, like so:  [something more about MC's feelings about this].  Since I read and reread everything that I write multiple times, usually when I come back to these sections at a later date, I know exactly how I want to word them.  And once again writer's block crumples to the mat protecting his sweets.  Bam!
  4. I am a pretty organized person, not a pantser by a long shot.  As part of my organizing, I have a list of scenes and ideas that I want to work into my story.  When I get up in the morning, I simply pick a scene that I feel like writing and run with it (Well, not literally, because then my butt wouldn't be in my chair, right?).  At some point I know I'll have to tackle the less desirable parts, but for now it's working really well.  Thanks to Veronica Roth for that awesome bit of writing advice!  Writer's block should really consider investing in a cup.  Just sayin'...
  5. I immerse myself in things that make me feel the right way for my story.  Since what I am writing is dystopian/sci fi, I have been reading books in the same genre.  They say that one of the best things you can do as a writer is to be a reader.  I agree wholeheartedly.  I also watch TV shows and movies that help put me in the right mood for my story.  It's summer and all of my favourite shows are on the SyFy network right now (Eureka, Warehouse them!) so this has been pretty easy.  Listening to music helps me connect with certain aspects of my story, as does finding pictures on Google (of everything from Cold War propaganda to pictures of outer space).  
  6. Finally, I research, plan, organize, research some more, make a chart, draw diagrams, remind myself in point form where my story is going, and research some more.  Somewhere in this process, I usually find myself getting excited about some aspect of my story and start writing like a crazy person...or like somebody who has just put writer's block in the hospital.   
That was a little long-winded, but...  Never mind.  I don't have a good excuse.  Anyway, most days writer's block doesn't get the upperhand, so this all seems to be working pretty well.  Only time will tell...

(My husband is a major Calvin & Hobbes fan, so this one is for him.)

P.S.  Writer's block has mercifully decided not to press charges.


  1. I totally do #3, except I use the yellow highlighter. Any scene that's not coming out right, or a phrase that isn't working, gets highlighted and rewritten at a later date. It's too easy to get bogged down in the details and lose forward momentum.

    And as for #4, I recently read a blog (can't remember where) that said any scene that you dread writing because it's boring or slow or whatever, should probably be cut out. If it's boring for you to write it, it'll probably be boring for the reader, too. Most of the time the boring scenes end up being totally unnecessary anyway.

    I thought that was an interesting way to look at things--to only write the scenes you're excited about.

  2. I do a lot of research too, which also excited me because I know my story will be that much more solid.

  3. Nice to see that others use some of the same methods!

    Crystal: Great advice about omitting scenes I find boring--hadn't really thought about that, but it makes great sense.

    Rachel: Do you ever find yourself researching really wacky things for your story? I recently watched videos about MCMAP (the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program) on YouTube for research. People would probably wonder... :)

  4. #3 is so me. I used to be the opposite - now I just get my butt in the chair and write it and know I can fix it later.

  5. ...and here I was thinking I was all kinds of clever :)


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