I’M STUCK. I’ve had my cursor at the end of Chapter 17 for four weeks. FOUR FREAKING WEEKS! I’m not sure why I can’t get my characters to move on to the next scene.
Maybe it’s because my main characters are about to have sex and my daughters are reading this story as it develops. Maybe. (I can hear my CP Deborah shouting through etherspace: GET TO THE SEX, ALREADY.)
Writer’s block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work, or experiences a creative slowdown. The condition ranges in difficulty from coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years.
In an effort to MOVE ON ALREADY … I am blogging about my inertia in the hopes that it will a) get my fingers moving and b) share some of the best advice I find with others who might also be stuck in this frustrating state of “word log-jam”.
Gilbert dedicates an entire section of the book to the role of persistence in creativity, and personally considers plain, old fashioned persistence to be an enormous part of her writing life. She writes:
“For my own part, I decided early on to focus on my devotion to the work above all. That would be how I measured my worth. I knew that conventional success would depend upon three factors—talent, luck, and discipline—and I knew that two of those three things would never be under my control. Genetic randomness had already determined how much talent I’d been allotted, and destiny’s randomness would account for my share of luck. The only piece I had any control over was my discipline. Recognizing that, it seemed like the best plan would be to work my ass off. That was the only card I had to play, so I played it hard.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert,
However, this might be my favorite paragraph in the book: a good reminder to tune out the constant critics in our lives and just write:
“Recognizing that people’s reactions don’t belong to you is the only sane way to create. If people enjoy what you’ve created, terrific. If people ignore what you’ve created, too bad. If people misunderstand what you’ve created, don’t sweat it. And what if people absolutely hate what you’ve created? What if people attack you with savage vitriol, and insult your intelligence, and malign your motives, and drag your good name through the mud? Just smile sweetly and suggest – as politely as you possibly can – that they go make their own fucking art. Then stubbornly continue making yours.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert,
Chuck Sambuchino (on WritersDigest.com) talks through his top ways to get through writer’s block. #1 being:
1.) Step away from whatever you’re writing and do anything that’s creative. Paint pictures, write poetry, design images in Photoshop, make a scrapbook or collage, or if you’re masculine, build something in the garage. Work on another creative project for a few hours or days and then go back to writing. When I’m stuck, I paint paintings or work on my website or blog. Jumping to other projects really activates my creativity. The key is to keep exercising the creative part of your brain and eventually you’ll tap back into the flow of writing.
See all 7 of Chuck’s ways to overcome writer’s block here.
This article by Maria Konnikova in The New Yorker covers the origin of the term “Writer’s Block” and suggests that blocked writers need creative and/or emotional therapy. (I challenge you to show how me a writer who doesn’t need creative and/or emotional therapy!)
“Writer’s block has probably existed since the invention of writing, but the term itself was first introduced into the academic literature in the nineteen-forties, by a psychiatrist named Edmund Bergler.”
Read the full article here.
Do you have any tips or tactics for pushing through writer’s block? Please share!
Now … back to the WIP.