Thursday, November 4, 2010

Writer's Block

Tomorrow we have special guest author/editor/mentor K.M. Weiland stopping by the blog. She has a new CD out titled Conquering Writer's Block and Summoning Inspiration, so I kind of wanted to get everyone thinking about writer's block today. What is it? Does it exist at all? How do you get past it?

I've read, and I agree, that writer's block usually means you've taken a wrong turn somewhere. For me, getting myself past the block means setting the manuscript aside until I figure out what isn't working. And that's a lot harder than it sounds. Just putting it aside is difficult. It nags at me telling me I have to finish it immediately. But eventually, I peel my eyes away from it and take a step back to look at what I have objectively. This goes back to Valerie's post on killing your darling. Usually, the place where I went wrong was a scene I thought was epic, but it didn't fit with my plot and it ended up throwing everything else out of whack.

My wonderful cp's are great at spotting those out of place scenes, but I can't have them watching over my shoulder and checking every sentence, so Valerie suggested I try note cards. I bought colored cards and I wrote out every scene I had on those cards. Red for romantic scenes, puke-green for gore and supernatural stuff, yellow for action and the main plot thread, and a sea-blue for scenes with the secondary characters that fed the smaller plot threads.

Laying these out helped me see where I had to many slow scenes or too many fast paced action scenes too close together. Looking at that didn't solve all my problems, but it helped point me in the right direction. It made me realize where the problems originated. Now I have to go back to the beginning and rewrite a lot of the book, but at least now I'm past that block and I have some direction.

What does writer's block mean to you? What are some productive ways you've found to help you get past the block?


  1. I agree, usually writer's block means something is wrong. If the characters aren't cooperating, there's a reason why. I bounce from one project to another if I get stuck, and that helps me to get unstuck.

  2. Ugh I just posted about this today. If you get some helpful answers, do share:)

  3. Thanks for sharing, Nicole! I think writing shorts can sometimes help too.

    Lol, Candy! Hopefully we'll get a lot of good ones.

  4. Well, I think there's writer's block and writer's speed bump. The speed bump is where I'm writing along, and I hit a point where I get stuck--usually because something's not right. I wouldn't necessarily say it's a wrong turn somewhere, because sometimes it's within the section where something is telling me I haven't quite done what I need to do. For example, I've been stuck on a particular one, not because it went in the wrong direction, but because I needed to deal with the omni narrator better. I usually work on multiple sections at once, so I'm stuck, I go to a different one while I think on what I need to do.

    Writer's block, which I've had twice, occurred because I wrote way, way, way too much and burned myself out so much tht I was dry. I couldn't come up with any ideas, and I couldn't even find words to write on the page. With that one, all I could do was wait--for the first one, two years; the second one was only a month or so--until I could write again.

  5. Speed bump! Love that! I agree, sometimes it's a problem within the current scene, not necessarily a wrong turn. I can't imagine being in a writing slump for two whole years!
    Thanks, Linda!


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