Monday, September 8, 2008

What happens when writer's block hits?

Is there anyone ouit there who hasn't had writer's block Raise your hand. I'm sending you a rose. And asking you torub the rest of us for good luck.

First, thanks to Jenna Mills who had a great workshop on this.

Okay, let's identify some of the roadblocks that might bring you to a screeching halt:

1. But I'm so busy.
You all know this one. You've all heard it. Hell, we've all SAID it. You volunteered for the PTA. You need to do laundry. Your mother-in-law is coming. Your friend called. You have a deadline at your day job. In short, life intervenes, sometimes even in small ways, and it slowly sucks away more and more time from the writing at hand.

2. Email/Sudoku/Mahjong Tiles.
It's so easy, since you're already on the computer, to just take "a minute" and answer email. You're on a few email lists, right? Well, those emails add up. And then hey, why not relax a minute and play a hand of solitaire. It's just a few minutes! Next thing you know, an hour has gone by and now it's time to do something else and the writing you intended to do just doesn't happen.

3. But my Mom/Cousin/Neighbor/Husband/Kid says.
Procrastination aside, sometimes it's something that hasn't even happened yet that sidetracks us from writing. In your head, you have voices, your own and others, whispering that whatever you write won't be good enough. Or it won't be real because it's romance. Or it will insure you go to hell because it's sexy. And those voices can be so loud that they drown out the story and keep you staring at a blinking cursor instead of writing down the story that is in your heart.

4. What do you think will sell?
So many people who aren't writing or who are just writing proposal after proposal instead of book after book are market chasers. That means that they are so terrified that what they want to write doesn't fit the market and won't sell that they never write anything. They spend all their time researching who is buying what and what did well on Bookscan last week and read between every line of every submission guideline. Instead of writing a book that interests or inspires them, they write whatever they believe will sell. And once they write that, they have to quickly move on to the next thing because this week inspirational is hot and next week they'll hear paranormal is on the rise and the next week itwill be chick lit with a historical twist.5. I want it to be perfect. This one is probably one of the most insidious and damaging roadblocks of all. I see so many writers picking over every word, every sentence every chapter to the point where they never get past a scene or a chapter or two. They write and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite until they've sucked all the magic out of their work, all the passion away from their characters and themselves. They never finish because the words on their page can't ever attain the perfection of the story they have in their head.

6. Something BAD happened.
I think this one is pretty self explanatory. Something in your life happens, whether it is something world changing like 9/11 or something personal like a death in the family or something just about you, like an illness. Whatever it is, it makes it hard to sit down and write.

So where do you fall into this? What's your particular roadblock? And what suggestions do you have for getting past it? Let me have your comments.


Anonymous said...

Lord knows I've suffered from all the above excuses/reasons and have dealt with major writer's block over the last year or so.
What finally broke it? (Though I'm afraid to state that too loudly.) Well, I think it was a combination of things including support from my writer friends, The Frogs, and breaking my editing, re-writing cycle by doing a 'Quickie' for Ellora's Cave. But now that it's submitted I have the same worries,feel that same procrastination threatening. All I can say is hang in there and move ahead in some way. Write. It's botht the answer to the problem and the problem itself.

Taylor Tryst

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Been there on all of those. Great post, Desiree!

Anny Cook said...

Probably the most difficult to get past is number six. The others can be worked on to one degree or another, but number six... sometimes you just have to walk away for a few days or work on something totally different to get past the bad things.

Regina Carlysle said...

With me, I think it goes hand in hand with writing soooo much that'll I'll get in the middle of a new one and mental exhaustion sets in. To get out of that, I'll jump to another WIP and see if that flows better. If THAT doesn't work, I'll just take a few days off.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

I fall into every category and have no excuses. I have decided not to read e-mails until the end of my writing day (as I have to-day) my creative juices are sucked dry by e-mails. Thanks for the great post. We all need a truth jolt every now and then to get back on a solid writing track.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anita Brit. Reading emails and keeping up with promotions really takes it out of you.

Elaine Cantrell