Writers’ Block

I like to pretend that writers’ block doesn’t exist. I say that we writers are so intelligent that we’ve designed out own disease. The honest truth is that something sure happened to me this week. I’m trying to switch genres by writing a romance. I had the story in my mind, but this week I couldn’t get started.

I try to produce some new writing for every meeting of my critique group. We meet every two weeks and our next meeting is May 7.

As usual, I review the very things I teach:

  •  Use webbing (done that)
  •  Sit down and just write, no stopping (sort of did that)
  • Stop in the middle of the action. (I’m going to do that at the end of today’s session. Then it will be easier to start the next day)
  • The ‘get tough’ approach. My doctor doesn’t get ‘doctor’ block. (That’s me. Reminding myself of this usually works for me.
  • Rewrite your last few pages. (did that)
  • Edit someone else’s work. (I’m always doing that. It works…usually)
  • Mellow out. Go with the flow. Take a walk, relax with music for a while. Writing is hard work. Take a break (that’s not me)

So I applied the ‘get tough’ approach and it worked. I started and finished the chapter in one setting, but now I have to edit it.

What is your answer for writers’ block?


6 responses to “Writers’ Block

  1. I’m currently writing several books, when I get stuck on one I can go to another and try it. They’re in rotation most of the time. I’ve read a couple of chapters of one of my favorite authors books…

    Sometimes just reading something else and breaks the brain free from the “process” of writing.

    Music helps, and then sometimes I’ll skip ahead to another part of the story. then at least I have a marker I need to get FROM here… TO there. and I can sort of plot out what I want to happen between.

  2. Hello Ed,
    I dealt with writers’ block for many years until I worked for a daily newspaper many years ago. During one editorial meeting I was assigned an editorial column, due the following Monday. I had one week to come up with my first column and deadline was 11am. Oh, I SO resisted and grumbled about that assignment! Writing was so much easier with an actual assigned subject and a scheduled interview. An ‘editorial’ was more like, well, creative writing and all I could see before me was a blank page. I procrastinated and agonized during every one of those seven days. Who would want to read what I had to say? Who cares what I had to say? And what DID I have to say, anyway? Nothing, I had absolutely nothing to say. I wrote my first editorial pretty close to deadline (ok, 10:45) but I did it and it became that monumental shove that forced me out of writers’ block.
    I truly grew to love that column. It was my favourite part of the week. I would sit down at the computer and the words would just flow. That process of writing, a public diary, was something I still treasure. I discovered that I absolutely could produce creative writing – on demand. It would have been unthinkable for me to have writers’ block and a huge blank block of newsprint under my byline!
    Soon after that first editorial, I read about Morning Pages as recommended by prolific writer Julia Cameron author of “The Artist’s Way”. “Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.” I find that doing this writing gets the fluff out of my head and moves my hand and mental process in a way I never could while writing at the computer. And yes, I have resisted this many, many mornings. Some days I just keep writing, “I have nothing to say about my morning pages today” repeatedly, and every time, usually before the end of the first page I find I do have something else to say. Writing IS hard work. For me, writing is a skill I turn on – by conditioning, expectation and routine. It is like any other job. I show up and I do the job and because of this expectation those pages are filled and ideas emerge in unlikely places.
    I know I thought differently writing those editorial columns. I was writing in my head 7 days a week. I became an observer, watching and listening for that spark that would ignite the next column. It also began sparking poetry, short stories and even a novella. Morning pages are my spark and I guess they have become my personal editorial columns. I still hate the thought of a blank space under my byline and so I just go ahead and fill it up.

    • I may have missed your wonderful thoughts on writers’ block. This was a great story and a column in itself. My guess is that your original editor saw talent in you and asked you to write. I wonder if your columns have been collected into a book. They should be
      Ed Griffin

  3. When my mind is dead. I put some good music on like Leonard Cohen, Baez and Johnny Cash. I read till the mind comes alive again. Some Dryden and Jack London make me create.

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