Saturday, July 19, 2008


It's the bane of a writer's existence, and it comes when we least excpect it. WRITER'S BLOCK. For a long time I insisted that it was a myth. I think that's because I had this notion in my head that writer's block is the same for everyone: an absolute refusal for the brain to create. Since I had never experienced that, I assumed people who got "blocked" were really just experiencing a lazy, or a dry, or a melancholy patch. Boy, was I wrong.

It's out there. Oh, it's out there, people. Lurking. Waiting. In many, many guises.

I never have the "nothing is coming to me" variety. I am plagued by some of the following strains of the virus:

*too many ideas at once
*indecision on which idea(s) to use
*fourteen different directions, none superior to the others
*characters who won't do what I tell them
*muses with big, fat, hairy mouths who won't shut up
*too much caffeine
*not enough sleep
*phone calls

I don't know any writer alive (and if you're out there, we soooo want to interview you!!) who doesn't occasionally find him or herself staring at a blank page. In a way it's easier if you have an assignment. Then you can tackle it logically.

Creativity? Creating something out of nothing? Jesus got HUGE publicity for the loaves and fishes thing for a reason, people. It's hard. Cuz, like, there's nothing there, and you have to do the whole "let there be stuff" thing, and even God needed a few days off after his first wack at it.

So step off, k? I'm just ME.

Anyway, when all else fails, I've always favored brain drain... a free writing exercise where you take a blank sheet of paper, set a timer for one minute, and start writing absolutely anythying that comes into your head til the timer goes off. Like this:

ohmygod what the heck am I going to write on fictionistas today I can't think of anytyhing that wouldn't involve some serious googling and research and I totally want to do those things but I've got a bajillion things to do so what can I bang out kind of quickly this week why is it we have all had writer's block lately man that haiku thing gwen did was adorable hey I know I'll writer about writer's block that would work you know I really do type fast because frankly one minute could fill a very significant paragraph for somebody like me and my hands are not even propped correctly on this keyboard I hate it when other people take all the cushy chairs at starbucks when its quite obvious that this is my OFFICE, hello??? but noooo, go ahead and take the cushy chairs you philistines does philistines have one or two Ls I can't remember wow that was a fast minute

How bout you? What shakes the creative juices out of your blender?


  1. I have never tried freewriting.
    But isn't my well drying so much as not having a plan. It's like there is too much happening in the brain and I can't pull out one thread and deal with it on paper.

    But the book I just finished? It really came to me all in one piece and I finished it in three months. I'm still revising, but it was written without too much angst. I'm hoping the next thread in my head will separate and do the same thing.


    The moral of the story is don't talk to bears in tennis shoes.

  2. I find haiku works wonders.

  3. Sometimes drafting in a file that's titled TOTAL JUNK helps free me from the internal censors...

    And I do think those silly customers at Starbucks who don't realize it's all there for writers, and that they should just sit in the hard chairs and be quiet, can be very irritating! ;-)


  4. Funny you should ask... I hit this point a couple days ago. Sometimes when I'm stuck or snagged or blocked or just plain squirmy about writing, I step away from the keyboard. I get out one of my many spiral notebooks and a red pen, and then I write out what I think the problem is. I brainstorm for solutions like I'm talking to myself, but in writing. And I don't go back to the keyboard until I've fixed the problem. (Which can last a while if the jam is bad enough.) I think I got my jam fixed yesterday, so it's back to writing today.

  5. When it gets really bad I try to create something else. I used to do beadwork but my fingers are wrecked and my eyes are garbage now. But photography, sketching... sometimes I'll be looking through the lens and SEE a plot. LOL

  6. I don't have the ran-out-of-ideas problem. I either have too many (sometimes for the same book(s)) or too many distractions.

    But, I will admit that sometimes, it's just a lazy I-don't-wanna-write-and-you-can't-make-me! day.