Wednesday, February 8, 2017

No One Loves Writer's Block

Photo by Abi Skipp, via Flickr
Each of us knows the pain. We sit at our desk/dining table/log in the woods, inhale, and poise our fingers to tap-dance across our keyboards.

Nothing comes.

We exhale, crinkle our noses, and reposition our hands.

Still nothing.

Here are methods which have worked for me. Love them…use them…throw them aside.

Have a bath. Words flow. However, if you haven’t brought a pen/paper with you and have it resting on the tub’s edge/handy table, those words will disappears as quickly as the water down the drain.

Go for a drive. I learned this technique from a writer-friend. It does work. I talk to myself and talk my way out of the problem. However, use a recording app or something similar. Writing notes and driving is not recommended. I also keep a pad of paper and pen in the car to record sporadic inspirations….once I’ve reached my destination of course! Safety first.

Walk. Not an amble or a stroll... a walk. Swing those arms. Turn on that recording app. As the number of steps increase so will your words.

Revisit your first notes on your project. Touch what inspired that primary fire. It may spark up for you again.

Bake cookies. This may unjam your block, it may not, but cookies are always a good idea.

Your words may stop when you’ve written yourself into a deep plot hole. Go back and find out where you started the unconscious digging and thus avoid the hole and the stoppage.

Work on something else. It’s amazing how many times my brain will untie the knots of another plot while I’m working on something else. However, I write mysteries. This may have something to do with it.

Remember why you’re writing and what you’re writing will follow. Maybe.

Pay attention to your pet. Like the baking of cookies, this is a win-win.
Elspeth Futcher is a bestselling author of murder mystery games and playwright. She has been the top selling author at host-party.com since 2011. Her British games are published by Red Herring Games in the UK. Elspeth's 'writing sheep' are a continuing feature in the European writers' magazine Elias and also appear on this blog from time to time. Connect with her on Twitter at @elspethwrites or on Facebook at Elspeth Futcher, Author.

9 comments :

  1. Love the suggestions, Elspeth. While my problem more often involves distractions rather than writer's block, I have worked with a number of those who face a block on a rather regular basis. I'll share your ideas.

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  2. Walking the dog helps, as does gardening, reading something very different from my wip, and even cleaning house. I can't use taking a drive because when my mind wanders I tend to do weird stuff like stopping at a green light. :D

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    1. Thanks for adding what works for you, Pat! Safety first.

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  3. Great suggestions, Elspeth. For me, the walk is always the best way to prime the pump, so to speak.

    I remember a friend telling me some years ago that when she got stuck with no words coming, she would go wash the dishes. The mindless tasks we do can often make way for the words.

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    1. Washing the dishes worked for Agatha Christie. If it worked for her...

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    2. Yes, washing dishes works for me, too, as does taking a shower. Must be something to do with flowing water...

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  4. I find reading a really good book motivates me to write again.

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    1. Sometimes reading a terrible book motivates me - because I think surely I can write something better than this ;-)

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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