Writer’s block! Nooooooo! How does one deal with one of the deadliest viruses to ever assault the creative arts? Well… I have never had writer’s block… so I do not have a cure for it. Instead I call it “writer’s detour” resulting from “writer’s blah.”
I typically avoid writer’s block because I don’t write unless I have creative energy. I have never sat down to a computer, a notebook paper, or a typewriter … without knowing what I was going to write about (yes, I am old enough to have typewriter experience). I am writing every day when working on a story. Even when that writing only takes place in my mind, I do not take a day off from writing. When I actually sit down to put words to paper (to computer screen) I have a wealth of stored up creative ideas.
If I get to a point in my novel that isn’t working… I don’t freeze up. I do not stop writing for five hours, six days, or two weeks. I actually call this “writer’s blah” because it is not as if I cannot write anything. It’s just that a particular section of the book is not interesting to me at that moment. At least, not interesting for me to have a high level of energy and excitement. So I avoid the writer’s blah by switching to a different section of my story. I call this the writer’s detour.
The writer’s detour is normally when I try a different ending for the book, work on the beginning of the book, or perhaps a complicated action sequence of the book that is more interesting than my current section. This is especially true during the first draft stage, where I do not see a reason to write in chronological order. The writer’s detour can be thought of as free writing which might even reveal what you SHOULD HAVE been writing in the section you avoided. At worst the writer’s detour allows me to explore characters’ motivations in paragraphs that may or may not ever make it into the final copy of the story.
Writing fiction should be a fun adventure, not a horrifying experience where people become frozen and unable to write a single word. Seriously… don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Because with the combination of Ctrl+C/Ctrl+V I can move entire chapters in the book around. Or DELETE entire chapters.
Something else I think about regularly is: If I am not excited about writing a section of the story… then why would readers be interested in reading it?
Occasionally the writer’s detour becomes a train wreck. Well… the “delete” button can erase entire sections of the story that seemed amazing Thursday night… but now appear to be utter crap and make no sense for my story the following morning. Sorry if I just triggered a one night stand flashback for you.
Anyway, I have written several screenplays and books, and have never experienced writer’s block. Two of my self-published works have long been deleted from existence. I wrote them 13 years ago and they were passionately, but not great. However a play I wrote a couple years ago was one of the winners of a playwright contest… so I am somewhat talented.
Nonetheless, writer’s block is not something that ails me. Writing should be a fun journey. I make it fun. If you have writer’s block then you might be taking fiction writing too seriously.
So… my answers to writer’s block are:
- Only write when I feel creative energy flowing.
- If the creative energy isn’t flowing in one part of the story, don’t stop writing. Just switch to a different part of the story and explore that. Sticking to writing in chronological order, especially for the first draft, makes no sense in the age of computer word programs.
- Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Something might become your “favorite mistake!”
- Have fun.
What about you? How do you deal with the terror known as “writer’s block”?