Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What is Writer's Block?

According to my Oxford dictionary, "Writer's Block is a periodic lack of inspiration afflicting creative writers etc." That led me to ask, "what is inspiration?" There are so many definitions I shall pick one or two. "Inspiratiion. The prompting of the mind to exalted thoughts. Undisclosed prompting from an influential source to express a particular view point."

That didn't feel particularly inspiring so I shall return to Writer's Block. Had I suffered from it? Is it over? 2008 was a very stressful year for me and slowly my daily writing dried up. I poked away at a couple of historical romances, one completed requiring revision and the other close to finishing. Nothing worked. What to do? I still had creative ideas. Why couldn't I write?

A close friend gave me, Judy Reeves' "A Creative Writer's Kit. A Spiritual Companion & Lively Muse for the Writing Life." Judy is the author of A Writer's Book of Days.

I followed the daily prompts and studied the cards filled with helpful advice. I started writing again! Here is a sample I found wonderfully helpful.

"What a great freedom to write stream of consciousness, to let the pen fly like a dervish while you hang on for the ride nabbing thoughts as they appear out of some wild, flamboyant place in your mind." (copyright Judy Reeves)

Don't you just love that? I put it right to work on a Gothic short story I had promised to write and immediately freed my muse. I was "over thinking." I'm not a plotter nor do I write a synopsis before starting a new story. I let the story write itself until it's well underway and then give it some guidance.

Question of the day. Have you ever suffered from writer's block? If so and you recovered your writing life, how did you do it?

Anita Birt


Marianne Stephens said...

Writer's block? That happens to me almost every time I get to the middle of a book I'm writing. I usually write ANYTHING to fill up the pages, and then go back to the "blocked" section and fix it later.
Good topic since we all suffer from writer's block at some time!

Mona Risk said...

What a good post, Anita.

I thought I would never experience writer's block as I had so many ideas floating in my mind. But life has a way of torturing us. When anxiety settled I became dry. I didn't write a single new line in the last six months. I made up by creating video trailers, escalating promo, participating in chats and blogs, anything that is related to writing. I even wrote outlines for future stories. I hope that when my my anxiety crisis abates, I will not feel I wasted my time even if I didn't write.

Mimi Barbour said...

It's funny that the topic of your blog is writer's block, because for the very first time I can remember - last week - I couldn't get my words to come out. You know, the ones that fill your mind so fast your fingers have a tough time keeping up. They're the words that keep a smile plastered on your face as paragraph after paragraph fills the empty pages. I'd put myself in an uncomfortable position trying to produce some publicity for my books, and I’d felt so out of my comfort zone that it completely threw me off. It took a sternly worded, inspiring talk from my husband, and a few imaginary slaps from myself to get me out of the slump and feeling good again.
I love being an author, and if all I had to do was write the book I'd be in heaven. It's everything else involved nowadays with the all the promoting that gets to me, unsettles me, blocks me. Am I the only one who feels this way?
Mimi Barbour

She’s Me – Wild Rose Press
He’s Her “ “ “

Amber Skyze said...


Great blog! Whenever I suffer from writer's block I try to switch gears and write a different genre than I'm working on. This usually works for me.

Julia Barrett said...

I know you've had a tough year and you've persevered. Good for you! From time to time, I have so many things going that I just can't write. If I'm away from a story for too long, the words won't come out, so I either go for a hike or put on a really stupid, old time, nonsense movie - gets my mojo workin'. love the post.

Chris Power said...

Strewth, you could be writing my life. Writer's Block has been with me for over six months now. I barely manage 100 words instead of my usual 3000+ and it's killing me. My usual trick to break the milder version is to switch to another part of the story - or a separate one. I usually have two or three on the go at once. If that fails, I grab a notebook and pen, and go for a walk with my mind in free wheel to see what pops up. If *that* fails, I get out the ironing board and start on the backlog of shirts and stuff *g*. By then, my recalcitrant mind will be so desperate to escape the drudgery of ironing, it'll go back to cooperating. But if that doesn't do the trick, I start gibbering.

jean hart stewart said...

Good blog, Anita and I'm glad you're writing again...Love your style. I've only been badly blocked once but I nearly died at the time, I was so upset. Of course I don't count the times spent getting through the dread middle of the book. I always have that...Jean

Anita Birt said...

Thanks for all your thoughtful comments. Seems that many of us who are gifted story tellers can hit a wall. What I liked about the comments was how we work through the block or, we set our writing aside until the time is right to return to work.

Too much stress weakens our immune systems. As authors we must listen to our bodies and give ourselves permission to rest or do something different.