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Jacquin
September 10th, 2004, 03:34 AM
I recently started a spate of writing, I'd gone for quite some time wihtout writing a thing. Those of you that know me you know that's not unusual, I write quite a lot but I often get writer's block...

That's what this post is all about.

Why do writer's get block?

It's not as if I can't think of anything to say, it's just that I don't bother saying it, by the time I get to a pc it's either completetly gone or just doesn't seem worth writing. It sucks. But then why doesn't anyone else get "block"? You don't hear of anyone getting halfway through weeding a flowerbed and then getting gardener's block. Imagine a surgeon getting halfway through an heart transplant and then coming down with doctor's block, it just doesn't happen. So why do writers get it? I'd say they probably just don't work when it's hard as writing is supposed to be fun right?

Anyway, I'm off to see if I can get past my case of cleaner's block

PaxNoctis
September 10th, 2004, 09:22 AM
Writer's block seems to emerge when I reach the point in the story where my excitement for what I'm writing dims, or when I have a less-than-perfect grasp of what's going to happen in the story. I've found that taking time to plan out what's coming next and remind myself of all the 'cool' scenes coming up usually helps me to surmount the hurdle.

-Pax

Jacquin
September 10th, 2004, 09:31 AM
Writer's block seems to emerge when I reach the point in the story where my excitement for what I'm writing dims, or when I have a less-than-perfect grasp of what's going to happen in the story. I've found that taking time to plan out what's coming next and remind myself of all the 'cool' scenes coming up usually helps me to surmount the hurdle.

-Pax

I wish I was that lucky!

For me it is a drying up of enthusiasm. Not just for the current story but for writing in general. I try and force myself to write through it but I seem to only be able to produce trash. It does pass though so I shouldn't really complain... :)

Prunesquallor
September 10th, 2004, 09:35 AM
"You don't hear of anyone getting halfway through weeding a flowerbed and then getting gardener's block. Imagine a surgeon getting halfway through an heart transplant and then coming down with doctor's block, it just doesn't happen."

It seems like I am stating the obvious, but those are not creative processes - in both cases the person is reacting to something that is already there, and they know in great detail what the desired outcome is. When you are staring at a blank page/screen there is nothing there to react to, and you don't have a preconceived notion of your outcome. My guess is that writers who do know in great detail what the desired out come is (OK, I need a love interest here, fight there, and THEN a fight with a lover) have less trouble with writer's block.

Jacquin
September 10th, 2004, 09:41 AM
It seems like I am stating the obvious, but those are not creative processes - in both cases the person is reacting to something that is already there, and they know in great detail what the desired outcome is. When you are staring at a blank page/screen there is nothing there to react to, and you don't have a preconceived notion of your outcome. My guess is that writers who do know in great detail what the desired out come is (OK, I need a love interest here, fight there, and THEN a fight with a lover) have less trouble with writer's block.

I'm not sure I'd agree...

I think most successfull surgeons would argue that what they do is very creative, I know a lot of gardeners would, but that's not my main point. I have been writing a novel for a few years now. It is something that I keep going back to and adding a little more when I feel the need. I know exactly where it is going, I know exactly how it is going to get there. That is the exact thing that has stopped me being able to write it so quickly. When I started it I had a vague idea of the plot, I had a character and a place, I also had a couple of ideas for occurences that I thought would work. The rest I simply let happen, it was only when I got far enough into the book that my characters were established that I started to find it harder to write.

The best things I write (imho) are the ones where I have no idea of the plot. Maybe this makes me unusual... who can tell?

Prunesquallor
September 10th, 2004, 10:00 AM
Setting flowers and hearts aside, I'm not sure where we disagree. I didn't say that the best creative work was done when someone knows what they are going to create. I meant to say writing is easier when it becomes more of a mechanical process (implicit was a diminished concern for quality I guess).

just thinking through my fingertips here

Jacquin
September 10th, 2004, 10:09 AM
Setting flowers and hearts aside, I'm not sure where we disagree. I didn't say that the best creative work was done when someone knows what they are going to create. I meant to say writing is easier when it becomes more of a mechanical process (implicit was a diminished concern for quality I guess).

just thinking through my fingertips here

That is exactly where the difference lies! :D

To me writing is never a mechanical process, it is always about taking emotion and feeling and such and it flowing on the page in such a way that others feel a connection with what you have written. That is the easiest writing process of them all if you ask me. Whenever I write mechanically it comes across as soulless tripe.

This is of course why I have not made any money whatsoever from writing!

Sammie
September 10th, 2004, 10:35 AM
I'd also say that surgeon's are like writers in this respect.....they do get 'block' when they get to the boring, routine, non-creative bit of the process..........it's called 'suturing the wound back up', and that's why the junior staff often get left to do that bit ;) :D

Silliness aside....(no, really!)........although the anology with writing doesn't really hold, it is possible to draw comparisons. Writing and surgery are both careers....one is subject to 'block', the other isn't. 'Why?' is a good question!!

With writing, I think it's fair to generalise that when you are 'creating' something that you feel passionately about it just flows, but when you get too familar with a piece, or when you are adding routine scenes between those that inspire you, you may dry up. Heart surgeons have the advantage in that they have something there to inspire them all the time.......clogged arteries, fibrillating hearts, whatever. I think most writers find it helps if they have something to inspire them too...that's why writing several pieces consecutively, and moving between them as they get bored helps. It's also another reason that getting outside and experiencing stuff can help. And it's why it's important to write something that means something to you, imo.

Looking from another angle, surgery is about adapting to what you find (everyone's different)...writing is about creating that thing from scratch. so yeah - imo it really helps to have things on-the-go to turn to to give you a boost.

The other thing is that surgeons, (gardeners etc) all have employers waiting to fire their asses! If a heart surgeon stops in the middle of an operation, someone DIES, they go to court, they lose their registration, their livelyhood, and (usually) their dignity and self-esteem. Do writers get less block when there is more pressure on them? (Or conversely, do they seize up?)

Oooh, another thing! Surgeons are TRAINED..........they spend years doing bits of operations before they do whole ones. Would writers get less block if they had spent 3 years watching other people write, then 5 years helping better writers to write, then writen under supervision, before going it alone? :D

Does getting into a habit of writing help avoid writer's block? Is writer's block so common partly because we accept that it happens and almost expect it to? Imo, yes and yes.

This is of course all very up in the air cos surgery and writing...........well i'm just drawing analogies, we know they aren't the same really. But they are both careers, and yes, surgeons don't get block!!

Btw, I've picked surgery cos i'm familiar with it. Whether the comparisons stand for other careers *shrug*. I know I've had "answering the phone at my parents' office block"....but only the first couple of times I had to do it :D. And I don't think it's fear that stops writers writing. (Well not in the block sense, anyway...:))

I think it's an interesting question :)

My question - J, you seem to include 'can write but it's all rubbish' under 'writer's block'. I wouldn't agree..... Does anyone else???

Apologies for such a long and rambly post.

Sammie
doesn't have posting-block :D

KatG
September 10th, 2004, 11:06 AM
No, we never have posting block, do we? It's always easy to babble. :)

Lots of jobs are indeed creative, and while doctors don't get "doctor's block" exactly, they do run into situations where they are not sure what to do next, about what's wrong with the patient and how to handle it. But when that happens, they can order tests. Gardeners don't get "gardeners block," but they do get stumped on the best way to design beds and garden architecture. (Right now I am stumped on how to deal with a hive of bees who have decided to take up residence in my black plastic compost bin for the winter.)

But the kind of block you're talking about is about a different sort of creativity, which is artistic creation, as pompous as that sounds. That sort of creation utilizes certain parts of the brain and puts all areas of the brain through a work-out in the execution phase. And consequently, that sort of block may well happen to actors trying to nail a part, artists trying to paint or sculpt, playwrites, scriptwriters, music composers, choreographers, directors, craftworkers, jewelry designers. But it happens worst to the word-workers -- the writers, and I think it is probably because we are trying to use both hemispheres of the brain at once, especially if we're writing written fiction.

The three most common blocks are getting-started block, figure-out block and losing-energy block. Getting started block often comes from having little time to work on something and to concentrate on it, and feeling flumoxed and intimidated by the white, blank page, instead of excited by it. It's the block where we get distracted and where the prospect of tackling the project seems too heavy.

Figure-out block is the one that comes when you get to a point in the story where you have to figure out some aspect of plot or character or wording/language and it doesn't pop out of your right brain easily, so your mind goes round and round it. In a first draft situation, figure-out block can be deadly if it sets off your editor hat, who starts muttering that it's crap and you'll never fix it, so why bother.

Losing-energy block comes when you've been very excited about an idea and pounding out words on it, but then it starts to get boring, doesn't seem to be working and you feel like you've lost the thread or been on a wrong thread that doesn't go anywhere. Walter Mosley compared a writer's ideas to smoke -- you have to try and bottle the smoke when it happens, pay attention to it right away, or it fades and when you get around to it, it's gone. That sounds like maybe what's happening with you, Jacquin. You're raring to go, but when you get to it, the energy is gone.

Of course, even if you tackle ideas immediately, it may not help and if you're going to attempt a novel, it is going to be a day in and day out slog at least part of the time. So maybe the only thing that works is Tim Power's method. He makes a deal with himself that if he finishes a scene, he can have a beer.

Jacquin
September 10th, 2004, 11:54 AM
So maybe the only thing that works is Tim Power's method. He makes a deal with himself that if he finishes a scene, he can have a beer.

You have no idea how much writing I'd get done... :D