Smashing Writer's Block

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Deb Porter
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Smashing Writer's Block

Post by Deb Porter » Fri Sep 02, 2016 1:10 am

Hi FW family.

One of our members recently mentioned they are struggling with writer's block. Not just a mild case of it, but more a case of what I call writer paralysis. So I thought it would be helpful to have a discussion on our own experiences of the dreaded block, and tips for smashing it. Of course, everyone is different. What works for one may not work for another, but at least shared experience can provide possible solutions.

Some say to step away from the writing completely and to do something else that's creative. Others recommend priming the pump by writing little bits each day to get the creativity flowing. In other words, not looking at a major writing assignment, but doing something like journaling thoughts once a day. Doing this frees you from trying to meet expectations. Instead, you are writing simply for yourself. This can be enough to get the flow happening again.

So have you had writer's block or paralysis?
Did it start suddenly or was it a progressive thing?
Can you pinpoint something that triggered it?
How did you eventually break it (or is your pump still rusty and in need of priming?)

Please share your thoughts. This is such a common experience for writers, and I think most people would say they really want to write again, but their creativity is not cooperating. Or perhaps the words won't flow from their head to the page (or screen).

Let's help one another. You may not have a problem with it now, but you may have had it in the past ... or you may have it in the future. Let's make this a go to resource for our fellow FaithWriterians. :D

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Re: Smashing Writer's Block

Post by glorybee » Fri Sep 02, 2016 8:11 am

Well, there's this, but that's probably not what you were asking for:

Writing Maranda

The best thing for me is to get rid of distractions, especially devices. And the only way to do that is to walk, so weather permitting, I take a long walk, alone.

Actually, 'alone' is another key component. I have a hard time writing even if Ben's just in the same room with me, reading quietly. So I send him away with a project or a favor.

Coffee. More coffee.

I'm a big fan of prompts--I have a box of cards called "Storymatic" (Google it) that I use either alone or in combination to give me ideas. You can do something similar without the cards, though. Open a book and point to a word at random to write about. Write about the third moving thing you see outside your living room window. Ask someone who lives with you for a word.

Try pencil and paper.

Coffee.
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Re: Smashing Writer's Block

Post by RedBaron » Fri Sep 02, 2016 10:53 am

I have been dealing with this for awhile. I was doing so much content work, thankfully for pay, that I got away from writing for fun, as in fiction. I keep telling myself I'm going to be getting back into the challenge. I did one awhile back, and then I didn't. So.... I need to get back into it. I have all these ideas, but I just can't seem to sit down and just do it.

Most of my best writing times is late at night, when everyone else is asleep, since I've had trouble sleeping anyway. But our schedules are so weird, that even that's hard to do now, with Frank getting up at 4:30 am. If I stay up to write when I write best, I'll get like 3 hours of sleep.... Not good on a regular basis.

If you want to live on the edge, and just write to write, another writing friend had shared this website on Facebook http://www.themostdangerouswritingapp.com/ You select a time from 3 minutes to an hour. As long as you keep typing, the progress will be saved. If you stop, you lose everything you just did. So this is good for motivation, for helping to stop that inner editor - which is honestly one of my biggest issues.
<><
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Re: Smashing Writer's Block

Post by Sibermom65 » Fri Sep 02, 2016 11:15 am

One of the things that first needs to be done is analyze why you have writers block - not the excuses you give but real reasons.

Are you waiting for a divine inspiration? Perhaps writing prompts and set times where you write anyway will be your best answer.
Do you have problems with interruptions - where you mentally need long blocks of time and only seem to be able to grab small amounts?
Do you need to reset your priorities? Is writing your job or is it something you fit into the spaces of your life?
Do you have a physical space problem? While some may be able to write crammed into any little space, others need to sprawl out, spread their work around them and compare different versions and ideas.
Do you believe in your heart that your writing isn't good enough to share? Perhaps a writing group where you can get some supportive feedback will help.
Maybe you are confident in your ideas, but aren't with story structure or grammar. In that case a few courses or books on the subject might be what it takes to get you through your block.
Maybe it's the subject. We are encouraged to write what we know, but if you don't feel self confidence, it's unlikely you will be able to move forward. Maybe sett hat work aside and come back to it another year?

I was completely enjoying writing and feeling quite gung-ho about writing children's stories when my oldest daughter was killed. I put up my writing and was unable to continue for over 20 years. Any attempts at writing seemed to just bring back the pain. That's writer's block.

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Re: Smashing Writer's Block

Post by Deb Porter » Fri Sep 02, 2016 10:28 pm

glorybee wrote:Well, there's this, but that's probably not what you were asking for:

Writing Maranda
That's one of my favourite stories of yours. Makes me chuckle every time.
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Re: Smashing Writer's Block

Post by Deb Porter » Fri Sep 02, 2016 10:33 pm

Shari, the loss of writing joy because of the work aspect is a big killer. It can take a while to overcome that one.

Sybermom, the emotional aspect is a huge factor. I like the advice about analyzing why you have writers block--not the excuses. Good advice. There is usually a trigger. Sometimes it's obvious, but not always.

Jan, the distraction factor is also huge. It's almost worth disconnecting from the wi-fi or internet while you write. The desire to take a little "click" break is very strong.
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Re: Smashing Writer's Block

Post by oursilverstrands » Sun Sep 04, 2016 7:59 pm

Deb wrote:Please share your thoughts. This is such a common experience for writers, and I think most people would say they really want to write again, but their creativity is not cooperating. Or perhaps the words won't flow from their head to the page (or screen).
My experience probably won't make the top ten reasons for writer's block, but it's a simple and scientific reality for me. I noticed a definite change in my creativity quotient when I changed medication for medical problems. Admittedly, this may not be true for many, but I always have a "one out of a hundred" adverse response to many medications.

I've discovered that my creativity is at its highest early morning before I take my daily meds. It's not to say that I don't write at other times in the day, but it's only to build on what I've already started. So if you've reached that time in life where meds are part of your daily diet and you can't point to anything else to explain your writer's block, perhaps its nothing more than your brain's response to the medications you take; writing before meds might help. :roll:

I like each of the suggestions. They all serve as antidotes for "drugged" writers. :D


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Re: Smashing Writer's Block

Post by swfdoc1 » Sun Sep 04, 2016 11:46 pm

I second Jan’s comment about walking. There is an incredible amount of scientific data on the link between walking and increase in creativity. Furthermore, walking outside is much better than walking inside (say on a treadmill). Probably even more significant is the difference between walking in nature as opposed to walking in any other outdoor environment.

This one might be a bit idiosyncratic, but I think that learning and working hard on a new type of writing or re-visiting one that you haven’t tried for a while really gets the juices flowing. In reality, this probably means trying one of the structured and small-ish poetry forms. But, of course, this also means finding a block of time long enough to both do the above and then move on to what you really want to write. The kind of poetry forms I have in mind all have very specific structures or “rules.” I believe that it is, perhaps ironically, the forcing of your work into a structure that gets the juices flowing. So, take for example, a haiku.

Probably “anyone” can write a haiku—at the elementary school level—even someone with writer’s block. In a real crisis maybe use a prompt, as Jan suggested, even for the haiku. So write a haiku and then try to improve it from the elementary school level to a “real” haiku. What I mean by that is this: most of us just learn that haiku should have 3 lines of 5 then 7 then 5 syllables. What we don’t learn (or care about) is that they should also have a “cut" and a nature reference and contain only “objective” language. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, or if this otherwise confuses you, don’t worry, below is a link that should help. But before clicking on the link, just a reminder: this is just an example. My suggestion is to work on a new, short type of writing AND THEN WHILE THE JUICES ARE STILL FLOWING move on to what you really want to write. So . . . don’t ask me any haiku questions. I don’t want to hijack this thread. I’m just suggesting an anti-writer’s block technique. To repeat: just try learning or getting better at haiku (or any other short writing form) and then jump into your desired writing and see what happens. I bet your mind will be fully engaged in word choice and imagery and economy of words and structure and many other aspects of writing. And maybe you'll even have come up with ideas for topics. If not, try another short poetry form with a different prompt.

Anyway, here’s the link (just scroll down a bit). It’s something I wrote for one of Jan’s lessons, which would be—duh—the one on haiku:
http://www.faithwriters.com/Boards/phpB ... 0&start=15
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Re: Smashing Writer's Block

Post by Shann » Fri Sep 09, 2016 8:58 am

I don't think I've ever really had writer's block. My mind is constantly going in a million directions. More I suffer from feeling too sick to write. It's very painful for me to sit at a chair, so before I got my tablet, I'd go through spells where I couldn't sit at pc and write.

I like to think I write something every day I'm physically able. Some days just getting to the bathroom is a huge accomplishment. On those days, I write in my head. I had noticed if I went through spells where I didn't write, my pain and anxiety gets worse, so I try to do something every day since then, even if it's as little as a journal entry, a critique, or a review of a product on Amazon. I will also jot down ideas on days when I can't write because of my health.

There's always been something in my head to write, but I tend to enjoy writing picture books or kids' stories, which tend to be short, along with devotions, memories, or advice to myself. I've never tried to write a longer story or novel. I also will go back through my old stuff and tweak that.

This probably isn't very helpful for most people unless it helps someone realize writing can be done many ways. Even if you're answering an email or posting on the boards, you're still writing, still expressing yourself. It might help those who tend to beat themselves up for not being able to write what they want. Once writing is in your blood, it's something that can be as important as food. You don't always need a three course meal. Sometimes just nibbling on a cracker can ease that hunger.
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Re: Smashing Writer's Block

Post by marbear67 » Sun Sep 25, 2016 7:32 pm

Thank you for sharing Shann,

I completely identify with you. I write almost every day and it always starts with writing in my head. I love to sit and write my prayers and Conversation I have with the Lord. I will have to remember that if my body is hurting, I need to sit down and write.

Thanks again,
Marbear

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Re: Smashing Writer's Block

Post by zacdfox » Mon Sep 26, 2016 10:34 am

From someone who struggled with a severe case of the block for the better part of the last six months, I just want to say
:thankssign to everyone who posted!

This was a huge help to me.

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Re: Smashing Writer's Block

Post by Deb Porter » Mon Sep 26, 2016 5:00 pm

zacdfox wrote:From someone who struggled with a severe case of the block for the better part of the last six months, I just want to say
:thankssign to everyone who posted!

This was a huge help to me.
:superhappy

Welcome back, Zac. :D
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Re: Smashing Writer's Block

Post by AnnaBanana » Fri Sep 30, 2016 3:38 pm

I think I definitely have struggled with writer's block, but I think that block was shaped like four kids and a full time job. I still have both kids and job, but I've been finding time anyway over the last year and I'm living it.

A funny piece of advice my daughter told me about today. If you have writer's block, kill somebody. (And then she proceeded to complain how the writer's do that in the books that she reads. :D )

A serious piece of advice my friend told me that someone told her, "Write something. You can't edit nothing, but you can edit something." I think that works for me sometimes when I'm tired and I write something down that is okay, but when I come back to it with more energy I'm able to make it ten times better.
Blessings,
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Re: Smashing Writer's Block

Post by FaithWrite1 » Thu Oct 20, 2016 9:11 pm

glorybee wrote:
Coffee. More coffee.
This is so the best advice for me! Think I even have to start grinding my own coffee beans fresh, too.

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