Thursday, July 21, 2011

Writer's Block

I have trouble keeping up this blog. I'm not much of a talker, so finding topics is very difficult for me. But I heard that you should let your readers into your world. What's going on with you. That's what partly inspired this post. What's going on with me? I currently have writer's block. Aka I'm not writing. And it's making me nuts.

Every writer I know hates writer's block and almost every writer has suffered from it at one point. It's that point when the muse simply refuses to play nice. Maybe she’s tired and wants a vacation. Some muses like to be wined and dined. If you don’t feed them chocolate and wine (mine prefers a nice rose. *wink*), they tend to go on strike, don’t you know. How dare we treat them this way?

However you want to describe it, it’s that moment when you sit down at the computer (or with the pen and paper, if you do it old school) and nothing comes. Or, in my case, when the ideas seem great until I start to put them on paper. When everything I attempt to write goes absolutely nowhere and I find myself with a bazillion little snippets of scenes and no plot, and I’d rather go play the games on my iPad because they’re more interesting.

It’s gone on for months now and it’s making me crazy. For me, I’m think some of it may be stress. Life has erupted on me as of late. I’ll spare you the long winded whine (because if I tell you, that's exactly what it would be--me, complaining. lol). The real point is, I’m not writing, and I HATE it. I have three chapters and 20 pages of scene snippets for a story that ought to be emotional and gripping, but in actuality is lacking...well, something and is going completely nowhere.

I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried free writing, you know, writing whatever comes to me. I’ve tried brainstorming with critique partners. I’ve tried allowing myself to write crap (you know, of the “Jane sees Bob. Jane likes bob. Bob sees Jane” variety that make you cringe when you re-read it). I’ve tried writing other stories and have done exactly the same things with them. So as of right now, I have a high school reunion story started, the first chapter of a ghost story I have no idea what to do with, and as of this morning, the first scene in a paranormal involving a woman who can see and speak with angels and is sent to save a man’s life.

Nothing is working. None of these stories are grabbing me and I would much rather go do laundry. I would love to say I have all these wonderful suggestions about what to do when you’re in this place, but I’m afraid I don’t. I suppose I have nothing to do but give in, go find a book that interests me (Vonnie Davis' "Storm's Interlude" has caught my eye recently) and dive in.

So I thought I’d put it out there and ask. What do you when the writing is going nowhere?


  1. I hope you break free soon. Maybe have a break? I usually just sit down and write garbly-d-goop until I can write again. Right now I'm having a hard time getting the last page of my WIP the way I want it. Muse is on strike too, I guess.

  2. As one of your critique partners, you are giving yourself an unjustified and harsh time over the three chapters. They are good! My advice is to keep going even if you're hating it until you type The End.
    Once you've let it rest, I promise you'll be pleasantly surprised by some bits and ready to improve the others.

    Rachel x

  3. If it's writing in general (as in I don't have a story on the go) I just write until something triggers. Or read. Or nap.

    If I stop writing in the midst of a current story I know there's something wrong in what I've written. Sometimes it's as simple as changing up the point of view.

    And sometimes it's discovering I jumped the shark somewhere in the story. Sometimes I notice right away and takes longer to figure out where I went wrong. And sometimes one (or both) characters are all wrong for the story. That's always painful because that spells rewrite from Chapter One.

    I find if I write something completely different than what I normally write, that sometimes shakes the cobwebs loose because everything inside is all "what the heck is this?? You don't write this. This is terrible. Let's get back to what we're good at." Shaking it up can work. If you don't have any looming deadlines.

    Good luck!

  4. Oh honey, I feel for you. I absolutely detest writer's block. It doesn't happen often, but when it does. Watch out!

    You've tried many things that I would suggest. When I get like that, (flurry of ideas and no general direction) I call that the Muse House Party. She invites her friends to play around in my head, but I digress, Music helps me focus. I put in some old school love songs Luther Vandross, Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind and Fire are a few that help. Or I listen to the Blues or Jazz, whatever I can get that will allow the Muse to "relax" and allow the creativity to flow. And many days, like today, the TV is blaring Danny Phantom for background noise.

    But if it helps, take a hot bubble bath, sip a cool glass of wine and dive into a good romance.

    Good Luck and Happy Writing.

  5. Thanks for the commiserations, everybody.

    Nightingale--I hate that. Mine is usually the first page. Hope you get it straightened out!

    Thanks, Rachel. I agree, what I've got is really good. I like it. But I have desire to write anymore. It's just not moving forward. I have to keep pushing the river. I have no idea.

    Usually I agree with Jenna. That usually that tells me I've gone wrong somewhere. But I've written this one two different ways now and neither way feels completely correct. I'm going to try writing the next chapter and see where it takes me, but I may decide to try revising it again and mixing both directions.

    Writing out of my normal genre...funny enough, I thought of that this morning. This scene for a paranormal (a genre I don't write b/c I don't have that kind of imagination) was stewing around in my brain, so I wrote it down.

    Lynne--I don't normally use music. I'm a bit ADD, I have trouble focusing. lol But that's also on my list to try.

  6. Oh, you're preaching to the choir, my dear. I'm in the same boat. But what I've found is that sometimes the muse won't come back willingly; she must be dragged back kicking and screaming. Meaning, I just start writing. Yes, it will probably mean re-writes, but at least it gets my mind back in the story and sometimes I even have a breakthrough idea!
    Best of luck:)

  7. Thanks, Jennifer! good to know I'm not alone. I keep staring at this stupid WIP. That is just about the only thing I haven't done, and I suspect you and Rachel may be right. I may have to just keep pushing through it until something clicks.

    good luck with yours!

  8. Well, crap, Joanne, I'm sorry to hear of your troubles. Quite honestly, I haven't created anything new in so long (I've been doing the editing circuit), I'm a little nervous myself. I don't know if this will help, but when I'm stuck I go off and find a quiet spot to lay down. I don't fall asleep, I just let my mind wander through the story. Without fail I get the next scene, or the next piece of verbiage or whatever it is that's been holding me up. I guess you could call this meditating?? Whatever it is, it works for me. Hang in there, sista!

  9. Thanks, AJ. I'm playing the waiting game with two books at the moment, three if you count that one has a sequel. With any luck, in the near future I'll be so busy with edits I'll WISH I had nothing to do. lol

    Good luck with edits!

  10. You've tried my strategy. I wrote four (count them four)novellas, before I finally went back and finished my full length suspense that was going NOWHERE! The difference was, I was excited about the shorter stories, and it got me back into the writing mode. Now I'm getting nothing done because the kids are home all the time on summer break "Mom this and Mom thating me." Is it fall yet people?

    I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you!

  11. Oh my gosh - Writer's block is a horrible state to be in. I feel your pain : (

    Like a couple of the other ladies said - keep writing - and give yourself permission to write crap. You can always delete, but the cursor blinking away like that will drive you mad and feel even more stress the more it blinks. Well - it does me anyway : )

    It's great news the first 3 chapters are good and your critique partners agree. Yeeha! Where there's hope there's life.

    Good luck Joanne - you're definitely not alone!


  12. Jannine -- you know, I've thought about writing shorts, but the silly thing is, I don't know how. I don't know how to write longer, either. That's something I'm going to have to look into.

    LaVerne--oh I hate writing crap. It just makes me cringe. But I'm going to have to push myself on this one in the hopes of a breakthrough.

    Thanks for the encouragement ladies! I feel much better than I did I when I posted this. Knock on wood I can whip these characters into shape. Cause I like them. I don't want to have to give them up.


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