View Full Version : Writer's block (long)
August 3rd, 2003, 07:10 PM
I am a writer, the problem is of course that Iím simply not writing much at the moment. So I suppose Iím just a wannabe writer. Not even a wannabe author, that implies that Iím writing but just havenít been published yet, Iím not even writing these days.
I have many projects on the go at them moment, there are some really good ideas, some Iíve even developed into thousands of words, but in all honesty that was a while ago, I havenít written anything much over 100 words for a long time now. Iím not sure why, I just donít seem to have the motivation. I really envy those writers that can sit and write for an hour every day whatever their mood. I tried it for a while, I ended up with a couple of pages of worthless tat and a lot of wasted evenings where I would sit and stare at the computer screen for hours.
I suppose the whole point of this is me trying to say in some understandable way that I have writerís block. But (and I know full well Iím not supposed to start a sentence with a ďbutĒ) I donít have writerís block, Iím not a writer remember?
It isnít fun, I have a keyboard in front of me that will produce any combination of letters, words and sentences I want as well as Gigabytes of empty disc space just waiting for me to try and fill it, but I suppose the simple truth is that it is easier not to write than to write these days.
Take this evening for example, Iím sat in my front room, I have some soft music playing (the Gladiator soundtrack at the moment Ė Thanks Andy), I have some candles burning and Iím sat with my laptop and a cold beer.
Or at least it used to be, these days it is about as ideal for writing as hanging upside down over a pit of rabid badgers.
Thatís the reason for this post really, itís not so we can all sit down and discuss how nasty writerís block is, if youíve ever suffered it you donít need me to tell you and if you havenít, your condolences help me about as much as the aforementioned badgers. Itís so I can write.
Thatís it really.
I love to write but I havenít been able to for ages.
This isnít what I want to write but the important thing is that I am writing!
It feels good, I am born to write, thatís why god gave me fingersÖ Ok so thatís a little over the top but work with me on this for a while, I know Iím going on but now Iíve started I donít really want to stop.
I will though, just as soon as Iíve thanked you for putting up with my ramblings and congratulated you on making it this far, weíve been together for over five hundred words nowÖ
I owe you a beer, and I promise as soon as I get that advance for half a million Iíll buy you all one.
August 3rd, 2003, 09:03 PM
This may be nothing but something that you know already, J but to some degree there is the possibility that you're trying too hard.
Writers do need to flex their muscle and hone their craft, but I guess to some extent they must also realise that there are times when it doesn't happen. It becomes graft rather than craft.
So, my suggestion would be to not think about it for a little while, do something different, go new and unusual places, meet people and build up those experiences, so that when it eventually clicks back into place (and it will!) you'll have lots of things to think about.. You never know, that 'badger baiting' that you mentioned in the post above might just give you an idea for something.... (but i wouldn't condone something exactly like that! :)).
If you must write, try jotting down small ideas, key words, phrases, in that sort of free association manner! Ray Bradbury said that that was what he used to do. He'd pick on an object, a name, a place to get him started - for example, 'the playground'. He'd then work from there. Write a paragraph, leave it when it got boring, try something else.
Alternatively try something different - a dirty limerick, rhyming words, something you don't normally do. (What do you mean you do these already? OK - try something else!)
You could also get someone else to give you some words to work with in a sort of free association thing - erm, sword, sunset, mauve, goblin.... now do something with them!
There is a school of thought that suggests that people write best when they are at emotional extremes - very depressed or very happy! Not sure if I personally agree with that, but if you are somewhat at ease with your life, I guess it can be more difficult - a long list of songwriters who've 'made it' and now have nothing to write about about but sports cars and mansions would fit here!
I guess the important thing to do is don't force it. When you have ideas, it will happen. Old advice I know, and I'm sure there are others that will disagree, but the meaning is heartfelt.
August 3rd, 2003, 09:16 PM
Well, I can say that I've been there before. In fact, oh look, I'm here posting when I could be writing. I detect the faint scent of procrastination in the air.
Hobbit had some good suggestions. Something else I'd like to add is that writers are also supposed to read a lot. If you're finding yourself in a creative lull - go over to the library and check out a book or two. Sure you're not writing, but you can call it research. (And since you have a laptop you could even bring that with you incase the inspiration hits. Although the beer might have to stay at home.)
August 3rd, 2003, 09:41 PM
Let me get this straight -- you're not writing, yet you just wrote a poetical musing on the difficulty of writing, a piece of narrative you could easily use for a character and stick in a story. Exactly which part of the not writing are you actually experiencing? :)
We all "write," every day. If you have a conversation with someone, you're writing. And if you write a memo, well then, you're off and away. But what you're talking about is making fictional stories, which is a very easy thing to get psyched out about.
Forget about whether you feel like writing on a particular evening. Do you want to write fiction at all? If so, why? If it is something that you don't want to give up on, then probably you're going to have to look at this fallow time as a stage your brain is going through while it gets back into the idea of writing fiction again.
I don't get to write to the amount that I would like to be able to devote to writing. Sometimes I blow off an evening or a thunderstorm or some other obstacle slows me down or screws me up. Sometimes I get stuck in attempting to write material. Usually I write something that would on the face of it, appear to be twaddle. But I don't worry about whether I can call myself a writer or a wannabe writer. I don't worry about the twaddle since everyone writes twaddle -- it's called a first draft -- and I can possibly fix it into something later. At least it exercised my writing muscles. And I try very hard not to worry about output, or lack there of. Certainly there's not much point in worrying about what the eventual result of my writing will be. The thing is, I want to keep trying to do it; therefore I allow myself to do it, no matter what happens with it.
I'm afraid that many published writers have built up a lovely myth that they are compulsive writers from early childhood and write for hours a day, every day, and that it comes easy to them and that there's nothing else they would rather be doing, with the implication that if you do not feel the exact same way, well then, you can't be in the club. But having worked with dozens of writers, I can honestly tell you that none of them ever really work like that. Writing is much more likely to come in fits and starts, with a fair amount of head-banging, non-writing periods of deep thinking and frequent breaks to take the kids to soccer practice. I will always have a deep fondness for fantasy writer Tim Powers, who was the first writer I ever heard at a writers conference to admit that he'd find it much easier to do something else than write with his time and that he would make deals with himself when writing -- write the scene and then you can have a beer, and so forth. You should have heard the astonished gasps in the audience, gasps mainly of relief.
If the idea of writing fiction no longer holds your interest, then stop beating yourself up about it and move on to another form of self-expression. If the idea of writing fiction does still hold your interest, then stop beating yourself up about not having produced three novels by now. I'm talking like a Dutch uncle here, I know, but you get the idea. Write "I have nothing to say" over and over. Write us a story on the message boards if that appeals. Try orally telling a story to someone (small children are particularly useful.) If the writing doesn't come, go over your notes and try to outline, or dance to the Gladiator soundtrack. And for goodness sake, don't throw out the pieces of garbage that you do manage to write. You'll probably need them later.
On my desk is a "Far Side" one panel cartoon of lemmings dropping off a cliff into the sea to die, as lemmings are wont to do. One of the lemmings tucks himself into a ball and yells: "Cannonbaaaallllll!" If we're going over the cliff, we might as well do a cannonball. Judging from your facility with words, you'll make a nice splash.
August 3rd, 2003, 10:45 PM
Put all the projects on the backburner and expand on the ideas as they come. Select the idea you most want to write and get into a routine.
August 4th, 2003, 02:34 AM
I have a confession to make.
I wrote that on purpose. Well I was hardly likely to write it by accident but you know what I mean. I have been having trouble with my writing for quite a while and I decided that writing anything was preferable to not writing at all, so I thought I'd write about not writing. That was the result.
There's some good sounding advice, thanks. Some of it I already do, I read prolifically, I'm never without a book. At the moment I have four on the go. Also writing something different, I wrote some poetry last night. It was a first for me. Quite enjoyed it in fact, so much so that I submitted it to the site. I'll put up a link once its up.
Anyway, it's early now and I feel the need for another coffee and to clear some of these candles away.
Thanks again for listening...
August 4th, 2003, 03:19 AM
As you know I can pound away for hours and end up with either pages or nothing.
The more time I have to write it often feels I write the less. Suffered from the writer's block so many times, lost the joy and the desire to write as well. Lost it in the fear that I am rubbish and every single word I write is rubbish, so why the hell bother.
KatG sums it up well. Personally talking to and knowing a couple of published authors I can truely say the same.
Sometimes the best work comes after a barren time. Between my two first efforts was 6 months of doubt and hurt. Thought the bolt was shot, it wasn't.
Write when you want too, write what you feel. Personally at the moment I want to devise a way to cut off my left leg and replace it with another that actually works, does not hurt, nor have the potential for putting me back in the hands of the NHS :rolleyes:
August 4th, 2003, 03:42 AM
Originally posted by choppy
Hobbit had some good suggestions. Something else I'd like to add is that writers are also supposed to read a lot. If you're finding yourself in a creative lull - go over to the library and check out a book or two. Sure you're not writing, but you can call it research.Good God, for heavens sakes don't encourage him t spend even MORE time reading! :rolleyes:
August 4th, 2003, 04:13 AM
Chin up Jac old chap! We've all been there matey. I'm currently residing in the "block" too.
Sounds to me like all you're really craving is some inspiration from somewhere, that one little idea that gets the ball rolling etc.
It can (and will) come from anywhere at any time so don't fret over it too much, just keep a pen and paper or a dictaphone handy by your bed.
August 4th, 2003, 04:31 AM
Well, I enjoyed reading your post and it seems that you have a knack for writing in that 'article' style. Have you tried writing an article on some of your interests? Or as Kat suggested, write like that from the POV of a character.
How someone who re-inacts (sp?) battles, knows western martial arts, makes swords and scabbards, ducks plates thrown by Sammie, is an emotional (in a good way) guy and who CAN put words down on paper, can't write anything, is beyond me!!!
Stop whining and get on with it... ;)
It seems to me your problem, if it is one, is motivation rather than ability or ideas. A lot of writers with *shudder* the block, would kill for ability OR ideas, let alone both you greedy b@stard.
My advice... Red Bull, less reading and more doing... Oh and a weekend with the Loveable Rogue :D
If it helps, happy to do one of those collaborative majubbies that seem so popular at the mo, to get your juices flowing... But in private of course... I am shy :rolleyes:
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