Screenwriting : Writers Block by Chris Lilly

Chris Lilly

Writers Block

Hi everyone! I'm doing some research and I'd like to pose a question to you all... what are your gripes with writer's block? What do you hate about it? What are the ways that you get out of it? What writing tools do you use?

Kevin Ryan

I used to have writers block and feel I've overcome it by reframing my mind. What I mean is, I don't set a plan to write at a specific time or for a specific length of time. When I want to write, I go write, when I don't want to, I don't.

I remind myself that it's the same as watching TV or playing a game. After some time I got into a habit of sitting down, watching TV or something and then as soon as I've thought "maybe I should write" I'm off my chair and at a laptop.

If I write one word or one page or 10. I always go away happy with the added work to the script. I've sat one night and added one word to a script and gone away happy because it meant I could think about what would happen next, the next time I wrote. I would say to always give yourself kudos for the most minor advances you make in the script.

Especially for 1st draft. Quality control isn't really a thing. I just write. If I can't figure out what I want characters to say in a scene, I will write the characters speaking like they are the actors talking during filming of the scene. So I will write a character in a scene saying "I just feel like I'd be really angry in this moment".....get to end of the scene and move on.

To generate ideas, I'll look at a genres tropes and start twisting them. Or look at common characteristics of a genre and start changing them. Like, a bank heist usually involves criminals robbing a bank.....I'll start changing the location, time period, and characters involved until I find something that amuses me enough to write and explore.

And, I like giving myself fun tasks so that inspires me too. From May 2021 to December 2022 I gave myself a task to write 55 shorts in 55 different genres, one every 10 days, for 550 days. That was fun. Now I've 55 shorts. Some I really like (I've one turned into a feature which I wrote while finishing the challenge). I reckon there's 5 or 6 I could definitely see myself turning into feature length scripts. One short is with a director to film. And others are probably garbage but I could salvage something from them ha.

But ya, I've gone from stressing over writers block to not giving it any brain space. I probably won't write today, won't bother me at all. If I think of something. I'll maybe write a bit. Either way, I'm content

Maurice Vaughan

I usually take a break from writing, then go back to it, Chris Lilly. That helps with writer's block. Sometimes I just have to power through writer's block, especially when I'm on a deadline.

Richard Buzzell

I find if I'm feeling reluctant to write, that's my brain's way of telling me that what I'm doing isn't good. So I need to look for ways to change it up.

Geoff Hall

Chris Lilly I’ve never had it, so sorry, I can’t answer your question.

Xenia Alter

Hello Chris, I used to have it few times. Now I learned one thing: if you have a plan you don’t have a writers block. I take time to outline my story and do few iterations with other writers or producer. Then I start writing When I had that block I went on writing. It was bad, the material was lower quality, but it takes 5-10 pages to get back on the track. When you start feeling better you just rewrite or kill these pages

David C. Velasco

When not writing, I edit. That usually gets my writing train moving. :)

Ewan Dunbar

Sometimes just giving yourself space from a creative problem can help you to go back to it with a fresh perspective. Maybe say you won’t look at it for a week and do something completely different during that time.

Ewan Dunbar

I also think Stephen King said something along the lines of: when you can’t write, read.

Dan MaxXx

career writers have told me banks, landlords, store clerks don't care about writer's block. No such thing as writer's block when writing is your livelihood.

Richard "RB" Botto

What Ewan said. Personally, I don't believe in writer's block. Just saying those words adds to much pressure to an already uncomfortable situation - being stuck. Stepping away, doing something you personally enjoy (exercise, golfing, any other hobby or passion) causes the mind to relax. It may take 5 minutes, it may take a day, it may take a week, but stepping away to focus on something else has never failed me.

Also love Ewan's Stephen King recommendation, which is another form of stepping away.

Jim Boston

Chris, my go-to when I'm stuck is to do some research on what I'm trying to write about.

Dan Guardino

I just keep writing and the less I think about what I am doing the better my screenplays tend to be. So anyway I never experience writers block.

Craig D Griffiths

When I run out of life, I need to go and get some experience to fuel my thoughts.

Nathan Woodward

I for one am fine with Writer's Block. The problem is that I don't think Writer's Block is fine with me. In fact, I suppose, there may be a great loathing.

I have found that if I have a good enough outline I can actually just skip to the next sequence I want knowing I can come back to it later. I was watching/reading an interview with Barack Obama and he talked about why he wears the same tie every day. You only have so much brain power to make a quality decision and then you're done and need sleep. I have found that Writer's Block may just be that. Give that scenario pause and move on. A movie is shot in abstract pieces, it's edited by abstract pieces, it can be wrote in abstract pieces :-)

Chris Lilly

So many different perspectives on Writer's Block! Fascinating! I actually found out about how the tarot can be used as a writer's block tool during the pandemic and love it!

Lindbergh E Hollingsworth

Writer's block is a result of you not knowing your story, who the characters are, what the conflict is, who fights whom about what ... when you have your story properly structured there's no writers block. Just writing.

Paul Sokal

I'm a new screenwriter, been at it 18 months. But during that time I've managed to write 7 scripts. I have experienced writer's block on a script, and I agree with Lindbergh about the causes of mine. Unlike people who are probably much better than me at this, I have yet to use an outline, and I have to wait for my "muse" to reveal the story to me. Sometimes, it's all at once, sometimes not. When it isn't I move on to another script, and comeback to the blocked story when my subconscious is ready to reveal the rest. But I don't stop writing.

Jerry Robbins

"If you have writers block, you don't have a story" - Ray Bradbury

Terri Morgan

I found that when I couldn't write or the dialog seemed stiff, I was trying to force whatever it was. Sometimes I had to write something else to get that out of the way. Once I let the story develop naturally and stopped trying to get my characters to do / say things they didn't want to say, the blocks disappeared. It became more a matter of which scene to write and where to put it. I've written quite a bit already and they have more to say. :-)

Nathan Woodward

Chris Lilly , I would imagine the Tarot does a good job with that because (at least in terms of the Major Arcana) deals with Archetypes. I worked for a little bit as a phone psychic after I graduated High School, I never thought about using it as a Writer's tool. Fascinating idea.

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