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Old 10-18-2011, 03:43 PM   #1
michaelryannh
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WRITERS BLOCK: Solutions

Hello, fellow writers and writers-in-training (I am the latter).

I know I already have another active thread here, but the topic I want to discuss isn't related to that thread at all.

I have found a personal solution that seems to help me continue my story when I have writer's block.

Spoiler:
End the story. End it right there. Kill your main character off. In a simple way, excruciating way, just kill that guy off before he even know's what's coming to him.



You may say, but how could I continue my story after that? Well, let me explain.

When I use this method, and read back over what I have written, I just look and say well that's ridiculous. Obviously we can't make the story end that way, he hasn't even *this is where the idea generally pops in your head of what to write next*.

Along with possibly helping you continue your story, this can also be humorous depending on what you write.

A couple of false endings I have created are.

Spoiler:
A whole chapter leads into them following this mysterious animal into a cave. Everyone at this point is intrigued in finding out what happens next. I got stuck with writers block, however, so I typed in the ending "The otter than ate them both, licking his fingers after completely devouring his spoils."


After laughing at this for a good five to ten minutes, I finally knew what I needed to write next.

And another example:

Spoiler:
I already know the main character's fiance is about to die. She mentions to him she is feeling sick and nauseous and complains to Eli about it, telling him her mother believes she may be with child, but him of all people should know that it isn't possible. *This is where I got stuck* Using my own advice, I ended the story with "Eli cried as he realized he would forever be a pathetic virgin, with nothing but a dying wife to console him."


After reading over this, I sent this to my father, who told me "Man, you need to take a fiver (a short break), you're losing it."

After I followed his advice, I managed to see in my mind how to continue this story.


Discuss other ideas for avoiding writer's block? And discussion on my method, if it helped you or didn't help you, would be appreciated.
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Old 10-18-2011, 08:27 PM   #2
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If I am having trouble, I typically go back to the beginning and start editing. It really helps reconnect me with the world.
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Old 10-18-2011, 09:35 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VydorScope View Post
If I am having trouble, I typically go back to the beginning and start editing. It really helps reconnect me with the world.
Glad to see you have managed to find a solution that seems to work for you.

Interestingly enough, though, this seems to have a very opposite effect on me.

I try not to read back on my chapters at all until I have completely finished. Going back to edit seems to take a lot of time, as I will not stop until I have every error or minor tweak here and there fixed completely. Therefore, causing my writing to be delayed for days, even a week sometimes.

My editor/co-writer already knows that if I send him a chapter in progress, he cannot mention a word to me of things that need to be fixed, until I send him the whole chapter completed. And usually, by the time I send him the whole chapter, I have already edited most of his complaints.

I find my editing does not take as long, when I go back and read the chapter all at once, fixing every problem as I see them. It is much easier to fix all my problems at once.

It would seem a method that works well for you, would have the exact opposite desired effect for me.
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Old 10-19-2011, 11:22 AM   #4
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My solutions are either to put the story away and write something else completely, or read a book, watch a movie or play a game that's set in a similar world to get ideas.

The second one could distract me at times though. I can sometimes see a single image, or read a single line and make a whole new story out of it that's completely different from what I'm watching/reading. But at times, that can also help me to create great new ways to continue my story while remaining original. Inspiration is a tricky thing.
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Old 10-19-2011, 03:34 PM   #5
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For me it's just a question of just sitting down and forcing myself to pound through it. Even if what is coming out is junk, there's usually a few nuggets that I can use after a reread/delete. And oddly enough some of my best stuff has come out of a serious block where I was absolutely stuck on what to do with the story. Other times it takes a few tries before I get something I'm willing to keep.

It's hard since I don't like to delete something I've spent a lot of time writing, but you have to be willing to cut in order to avoid getting stuck behind a huge block. The longer you wait the harder it gets to resume, at least for me.
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Old 10-30-2011, 10:13 AM   #6
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"Having an outline means never having writer's block."

Well, okay, not exactly... but if you have an outline for the entire story when you get started, you won't have to figure out what happens next on-the-fly. You just have to figure out what words you're going to use to describe and get through the scene.
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Old 10-31-2011, 03:51 PM   #7
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I like to look at the stars, or mountains in the distance (easier if you live near mountains in the distance) or some other scenery. Then I imagine what it would be like there and what sort of people would live there. That helps. If it doesn't, then at least I've spent a little bit of relaxing daydreaming time.
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Old 11-06-2011, 06:48 AM   #8
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How do I deal with writer's block?

Decide I'm a fake writer, cultivate ennui, scream, sob, throw things, get drunk and cry on my friends.

Seriously though, this is tough for me. When I get hit, I get hit hard and sometimes it's a long, seemingly endless drought. I had writer's block that lasted about 8 months once (albeit that was unusual, and it had a cause). Every time I tried to write something it set off another crying jag because it was just that horrible.

When I'm on, I'm seriously on. When I'm off, I'm seriously off.

The thing that's helped me more than anything is being forced to write on deadline. Even if my heart's not in it, it's gotta be there, and it's gotta be decent. It has to be. If it means I have to sit there and pound my head into the desk for 2 hours until I'm too numb to criticize myself anymore, that's what I have to do. Writing for survival - that helps.

I can't say I'm cured for life, but as I'm getting older it is getting easier to just force myself to write, and I'm getting developed enough that it's not just total trash even if I hate it and it's not my best work. It's always decent, at worst.

The real albatross of writer's block for me is the inner critic. Mine can be loud and rabid and mean. This is probably 90% of what gets me stuck in those sorts of holes. I sit there and all I can think is "You suck, you suck, you suck, you suck..." ad infinitum. That little blinking line on my blank page laughs at me.

Apart from deadlines, the other thing that helps sometimes is turning it into a work-out. This sounds weird, but bear with me.

An analogy I use a lot for good writing (or art in general, really) revolves around the idea of a "sound barrier." You'll always have a certain degree of an experience that is lost in the act of translation - there's a certain amount of "white noise" that is present when trying to render an experience into someone else's head. How this works, for me, is that I have to be over-experiencing something in my mind when I'm writing it, and the total effect is that it makes up for the "white noise" that is inherent to translation. You can shrink this gap the better you get at writing, but it will always be there.

When I have writers block, I have trouble breaking that sound barrier. Or rather, I have trouble focusing on the concept from under the onslaught of my inner critic, and I have so much "white noise" leaking into my writing that it just loses all of its punch, like a really crappy radio signal.

I have a giant white board.

I get up, go to my white board, and start graffiti'ing that shit like a crazy person. Random snippets of whatever comes to mind where ever feels right. Sometimes I sculpt the words into shapes - swirls, triangles, pieces colliding into each other. It's enormous, so I have to reach around a lot to get to the top, crouch to get to the bottom, physically move to get to the other side, and the whole process is physically engaging.

All this motion seems to take my mind off the inner critic. And it's visually involving as well as linguistically involving - maybe even more of the former. There's colors and randomness and whimsy. It's my grown-up finger painting.

It burns off a lot of the energy that's distracting me from focusing on writing and drops my "white noise" ratio by proxy.

This is much more useful for creative writing than it is for articles, and I think deadline writing has done more to hone me into a better writer over-all. But it's very cathartic, and I still do it once in a while.

Last edited by SmokeAndMirrors; 11-06-2011 at 07:10 AM.
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Old 11-06-2011, 10:34 AM   #9
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As a copywriter and former journalist, I simply can't afford to have writer's block.

My solution: I stop writing and start recording. I can type out about 60wpm, but I can speak at about 300wpm.

Not all of what I record is worth keeping, but it sure does help to end up with cache of about 10K words to cut into than staring at a blank screen.
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Old 11-06-2011, 02:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ekster View Post
My solutions are either to put the story away and write something else completely
This is a solution that helped me this year when I was trying to write two books at the same time. I could switch between books when I got stuck on one.
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Old 11-27-2011, 12:51 AM   #11
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Post Take a Break

My solution is to take a break - do something completely different for the day and then return to writing on a new day. Sometimes the block comes when we are trying to do too many things at the same time. The solution to that is simply take things one at a time.
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Old 11-27-2011, 06:30 AM   #12
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There was a movie that did exactly that,. and then reincarnated him as a woman.
It was a good movie

Hm, what was the name again...
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