Overcoming Writer’s Block

It’s Wednesday, which means it’s Must-Have-Post day! I have a lot going on this week, and will for the next two months, so my blog hasn’t been in the forefront of my thoughts. I was sitting around last night, trying to think of what topic to tackle today, and nothing came to mind.

I had writer’s block!

Now, I don’t subscribe to writer’s block as an excuse not to write, but I do think it exists (some don’t). For me it usually happens because I have too many things on my mind. My brain is trying to push me onwards to so many other things that I’m prevented from making my neurons fire on the topic at hand.

But, there’s always a way to overcome it. And I’ve got two methods.

Number one is for when I’m trying to start a new project. First I read a short story in the genre I’m currently writing in, then take three objects and stare at them until I get an idea. And all the while I maintain a clear, active focus on what’s right in front of me.

My second method is most helpful when I’m in the middle of a project and have a hiccup for some reason. I’m a (loose) plotter, so it’s not so much a problem of what comes next as how do I execute this properly?

When this happens I’m looking for something even more intangible than concepts and ideas. I’m looking for logical story movement. What gets me from A to B in the character’s mind?

At this point I’ve usually tried to write a scene several times with no apparent luck. It keeps leading my story in bad direction. Some people can just write the bad scene, move on, and come back and fix it later. This is what I usually do, but when I get real writer’s block it’s because the scene isn’t even fixable. It’s trashable, and the rest of the story that spins out of it will continue to deteriorate.

In order to straighten this out I have to do something mindless. Maybe a casual game, but often that’s too mindless and my thoughts start to wander. What I really need is something that keeps my brain active, but is simple.

Like this: www.galaxyzoo.org

It’s a site that lets you help classify galaxies.  I get to contribute to science and outwit my stagnation at the same time.

While I’m classifying galaxies, focusing on a very simple task, the rest of my brain is off mulling over my story. Eventually the scene will pop into the forefront of my mind, and I’ll once again be able to proceed.

So what do you do when you hit that temporary wall? Any special ritual you have to get yourself un-stuck?



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2 thoughts on “Overcoming Writer’s Block

  1. Ethan says:

    How do I execute this properly?

    Happens to me all the time. I have the scene, but I can’t make it work when I know it should. Frustrating, since I know that if I had better chops as a writer it wouldn’t be a problem.

    Typically I write around it; I’m a plotter, so I usually have most of the scenes worked out in my head, at least in a loose fashion.

    Sometimes I just give up on the story and start another. I recently did that–had almost all the scenes worked out, but it was coming out forced and I couldn’t think of a good way to fix it, so I ditched it. Incomplete stories are all right by me, since they can be cannibalized for content and ideas at a later time.

    • As long as you don’t give up on them entirely, it’s all good in my opinion. I try to just “set things aside” in my mind if I really can’t overcome the problem. But since working in these methods I’ve had to do that less and less.

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