Writers block can effect even the best writers. How do you overcome yours, when you hit that brick wall of creativity?
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Great advice matthew, sometimes you have to take a step back from the project your doing, so you can get a clearer picture of where it is going. Like the saying says, sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees
For me, the answer is more writing. Write every day - for the amount of time you allot to your writing - whether it's easy or hard, good or bad, usable or un. I just "write through it." And later (years later) go back and take a look - sometimes something you thought was not salvageable is. And sometimes you can give yourself a good laugh!
I've never experienced it. I don't understand when people say they do. If you have a deadline, write to it. If you don't have one, create one.
All your feedback has been great, so nice to see people on this site connecting
Here's what I do: If I get stuck on a scene, or a line of dialogue, or "where to go next".... I just write "xxxxxxxxxxxxx" as a place holder. Then I start working on another scene. You always have certain scenes that you know you want in there, so write those... Once you do that, you'll figure out what you need to do in the scene you were stuck in.
When I'm completely stumped I put the work aside, open a new blank document and just write something, anything for at least ten minutes before thinking of my project. Sometimes it works, sometimes it's a great start to something new and other times the new document doesn't even get saved.
Everyone has some really good suggestions. I think the best thing though is to continue working on the script.... It will never get done if you stop to write something else, or clean, or whatnot...
Every writer has a different technique. I recently deleted 60 pages of a script I spent a couple of months writing to write about 70 in a month. I think of a writer's block as something that's blocking me from moving forward, so if it's not working, I usually go back in my story and change something, like kill or create a character, change dialog or just mute your character altogether and see how that turns out. I've tried the staying away to do other things technique and I've found that it takes me away from my projects. You have to find what works best for you. The process isn't fun, it's the end result that's rewarding. But I'm sure you already know that. Good luck, man.
I have been blessed to be able to avoid the "Block" beast... though, if I lose my way while working (on a roll)--- (by distractions, calls, people's needs, et cetera), I'll go google something! ANYTHING! It is said that it takes as many as TWENTY minutes to recover from an interruption --- and refocus--- so rather than sitting and stewing the entire time, i distract myself from my anger at being sidetracked... giggle at something goofy, and come back gently and in my own time. Twenty minutes is about right. If I'm hot on a page and someone interrupts, I will type key words, clues or place holders, to remind me of the trail... when I'm able to return.
Writer’s block is an overblown euphemism for “I don’t really have anything to say” or “I don’t really know what I am talking about.” It is something people say when they take themselves to seriously as a writer; thinking everything has to be a masterpiece. It [writer’s block] is the byproduct of the belief that writing is a solitary experience—sitting, hidden away in a room from the rest of the world waiting for that next great novel or screenplay to fall on you through suffering. It is not going to happen. There are very few truly gifted writers who can do that. Human evolution is a social experience and to write about it, one needs to be socially engaged. Get out and view the world around the subject(s) you write about. Take a walk and think about what your subject and theme—discover what you are missing in your plot-segmentation and structure. Make notes on what you see; what you are drawn to is likely to be connected to what you are writing. You see, your antenna is up and receptive to stimuli excited by your story material itself. Don’t think it as impure to take from real-life. It is not plagiarism. Instead, it is an impression of reality because you can only record small parts of what you see. After all, isn’t that the stuff of storytelling is made of? Prof. Z0;) "The Matrix does exist; time we take control."
Smoke some pot. The change in perspective will provide some ideas and concepts you would otherwise not pursue. No joke. Last weekend, made a nice dinner (I have no advice on battling the munchies other than eat BEFORE), went outside on to my terrace on a beautiful day and sat in a zero gravity chair, opened a cold beer and took a few hauls of Mary Jane. After about ten minutes, my mind was flooded with vivid and viable tangents that i proceeded to write down. Didn't stop for about four hours. I came up with a great idea for a new screenplay with about three pages of notes, as well as some excellent material for an existing project. To qualify: I am a very casual dope smoker. Usually just for concerts or other rare occasions. I "highly" recommend you do this alone and really focus on your internal monologue and writer's "voice". Works every time for me, but I only do it about once every two weeks at most. Important to embrace the process and allow your mind to wander. The change in perspective gets my mind racing and I literally have to race through the typing in order to get the mad rush of ideas down on (virtual) paper.
Take out a really old work, one you barely remember writing and begin touching it up using your current writing style and techniques. Expand plot elements, dig out the theme, add another layer to it. Take that early work of an inexperienced You and polish it. At the very least it will show you how far you've come. It's a great way to get the creativity flowing again.
Just write. Anything. Shopping lists, telephone numbers, even nonsense. Trust me, soon enough the juices will flow. Writer's block is what you get whilst staring at a blank sheet of paper/screen, and the longer you stare at it the weaker you will become. You have to begin your journey of a thousand miles with one single step. Before you know it, you have reached your destination.
Very well put Andrew
I spent three months writing twelve scripts for a dramedy kids' series. Walking away for a day or more wasn't really worked into the schedule (LOL!) so I had to find another way to get over blocks. Out of the blue, I tried calling the actors who played the characters in the episode I was stuck on. I just talked with them for thirty minutes, an hour. Just talked about their character and what they liked about him or her. Really worked very well -- inspiring actually :)
I use music.
I think every writer should take a few classes in acting improv. It helps you ignore your inner editor which is a big culpret when your talking about writers block.
Beeing a full time advertising copywriter in a mayor agency I often have to deal with "yesterday deadlines" and "a.s.a.p." writing. For me writing is all about concentration. No matter if I work on a print campaign or a short story, concentratin is first. Close the door, grab your headphones and turn off the Wifi on your notebook. Then sit down and be part of the story. Feel the plot, live the scenes. Write everything down that comes to your mind. Always worked for me...
Like most here, stepping back for a bit often helps clarify what I'm setting out to write. Some things that also work for me: working backwards from a conclusion; writing different parts at different times; trying to picture it as a movie--quite often many of the blanks fill themselves in. One other method that really helps: hashing it out with my partner. I'll bounce things off her; often, she'll come back with an angle I hadn't considered. We can frequently improv most of the major plotline, which makes it so much easier to flesh it out. Hoping one of these things works for you. -Bill
Pause a thought, place your brain upon your breath-woops, ok, try again. Pause a thought, place your brain upon your breath...be still... wait....wait for it, here it comes...don't force it...You're Horsing it! Don't horse it Dammit! ahh, you horsed it. ... Ok, let's start over...pause a thought....
I develop a one or two page storyline, a beginning, a middle, and the end and then I create character histories for the main characters. Then I start at the top of my storyline and expand the story. The thing is I always know what comes next and I know who the characters are. This works for me every time.
first, I go out to my shed, and grab my axe. Then I sharpen my axe on the grinder. Once It is sharp, I take it inside and butcher that block down to a pile of toothpicks!! Ta-da! Writers block is gone, I've vented pent up energy, and woosah!! Just kidding. All razzing aside, don't take your mental blocks seriously. It's your brain saying it needs alone time. grab a drink, a book, something to stimulate your brain, other than what you were thinking about. Don't beat yourself up b/c of the block, just relax, and enjoy it!! It will disappear just as quickly as it appeared. Just can't dwell on it.
This might sound cheesy but I really feel like there is nothing that will 'give you that spark' other than it just happening, but the best way to create more sparks is to consume yourself deeply in something that stimulates your mind. Personally, I like smoking a little weed and tossing on documentaries. Something about the combination of watching real people in real situations that I am not often exposed to leads to dozens and dozens of ideas. It leads to lost of questions such as how did they get there, why is this person doing this, is that person really that bad and my minds tends to work to fill their back stories with my own ideas... then it usually leads to some huge mental tangent creating sub stories and new ideas.
Actually, writer's block does exist, and it isn't readily transformable to a pile of toothpicks. It is a block which stops you from writing what you want to write the way you want to write it - it's certainly not a euphamism for laziness or anything of the sort. And I've yet to discover anyone outside a Victorian freak-show who can second-guess themselves. That must either be a prodigious talent or a grievous affliction as far as I can ascertain...
I agree with Alonzo. "Don’t think it as impure to take from real-life. It is not plagiarism...After all, isn’t that the stuff of storytelling is made of?" Furthermore (and in full disclosure, I am a Jewish Christian), "That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun." (Ecclesiastes 1:9) By the way, I attempted to fictionalize my family story (e.g., change names and all), but my stranger-than-fiction family story (with names and everything else unchanged) was better to get out--sometimes writing the truth down before you write fiction (be the fiction realistic, historical, or whatever other kind of fiction) is better, and the truth can be creative enough.
I don't. I go back to the outline, see what the greatest conflict is that I can bring into the scene at that moment, and if I don't have a answer, then I don't have an answer. That's why I'm going back to University - to develop the discipline to write even when I don't feel like it.
I write my way out of it. If I'm stuck then I sit down with pen and paper and write out questions such as "What am I trying to achieve with this scene?", "How do I get Bob into the situation I want for the next scene?" and so on. Then I write a number of answers to the question I am asking until something clicks, then I build on that until I'm ready to write that scene. It works well for me.
@Stephanie. You're right! The outline is your key to success. It provides the structure to your creativity. It's the track for your writing train. Smitty
At the same time you have to remember an outline is a gude not a straight jacket. If your characters want to do something else and insist on doing something else then your doing it right. Listen to them and adjust plans acordingly.
I like to step back and get my mind off the block or where I'm stuck. I will sketch or watch a movie or sometimes just get stuck on a YouTube loop laughing about the stupidest things. Then my mind is relaxed and sometimes watching something or just relaxing will get me back into the groove.
There is no such thing. You're overthinking it. No less than Lynn Mamet told me this, and I've adhered to it every since.
@Mike. I agree with you. I think that some people use "writer's block" as an excuse for a lack of discipline. I think that others believe in it simply because they have been conditioned to do so.
@mike and @robert. That's rubbish, sorry. I've been writing for in excess of 25 years and I've been struck by writer's block many times - and don't you dare tell me I'm not disciplined! It happens because you're struck by possibilities in your writing or composing which may or may not end in disaster or serendipity. You can, by all means, use a structure to your writing, which is what many people do - but I prefer to let things flow naturally, because that's what life does; anyway, a couple of attempts I have made in writing to a structure have ended with me having even worse writer's block than before!
@Andrew. You may be the exception to the rules. I have never experienced writers block. In my experience and I emphasize that it is my experience that all of the writers I have come into direct contact with who have used "writer's block" as an excuse or a "reason" for missing deadlines are always the very same people who habitually miss deadlines. They do not start on time and they do not finish on time. it's always the same people. That's my experience. I've offered them all suggestions for overcoming their perceived "writer's block" by adding structure to their writing. Those who took that advice were suddenly "cured". Those who didn't are still missing deadlines. Smitty
Like the "yips" in golf, until you've experienced the problem it's easy to believe it's not "real." I've been there, too -- believing primarily that it is an excuse . . . However, after experiencing it for myself, and coming through the other side by the discipline of just "going to work" I both believe it is real, AND that it can be overcome through discipline - at least for me. My "fix" is that I write every day for at least the number of hours I am currently working at writing. Sometimes in my life that's only been a couple of hours, when I had other full time jobs. Other times it's been 8 hours, which often stretches to 12 and more when I am "on a roll." When I am out of juice on whatever my current project is, I simply pull out my list of ideas and either add to it, or choose one and start in on it. My case of the blocks has never kept me from writing, although it has kept me from working on a particular project for a week or so ... and then I get an idea that resolves the problem - usually when I'm not thinking about it - and I'm back on track. But - like all of us - I am speaking from my own experience.
Gentlemen, gentlemen...every writer is different and no absolutes are applicable to all of us. The forum's intent is to come up with ways to combat writer's block, not to debate its existence. Instead of writer's block, perhaps we can think of it as a "lack of inspiration" or perhaps what is asked of us is to provide methods, techniques, activities that help to inspire when the well seems to be running a bit dry.
@Michael--Great point! When I need inspiration I watch videos I've taken at my son's recent football games or my daughter's volleyball games. Watching my kids get after it is all the inspiration I need to keep going. I've never had to take a second look at their games to inspire my writing. I do enjoy watching them when I've had another sixteen hour day of marketing or dealing with crew members who just can't seem to get their job done. Smitty
When I get writers block I usually leave the script alone and go and do something else for a few days. Then you come back and read what you have written and if you still cant carry on leave it and another story will come up that you start on that may inspire you to continue writing your last script.
Do something simple that inspires you like listen to that one song that lifts your spirits hypes you! And probably this good thread of advice will help you too!-)
Punch my monitor Make a smoothie Throw something big and heavy Read something intelligent Scream profanities into the wind meditate and ponder the meaning of existence Shake an empty box pretending a cat is inside Save work, sigh and wait for tomorrow
I agree with Anthony. It's also a technique playwright Neil Simon practices. Apparently he has a drawer full of unfinished scripts. Sometimes he would return to them, sometimes not. But I do like to finish! I've found giving myself distance and time to marinate over the problem allows my brain to figure it out. Writing prompts are always fun too. Also I recommend "The Dramatic Writer's Companion" which is a book of writing prompts geared to help you develop characters and scenes.
hi guys, you are all writers, I have written the main stream of a good idea for a tv show, getting until the entire tretment. But am not an experinced writer, so I wonder, if i have a great idea and present it like logline-synopsis and treatment, and then I don't have the entire ability to write all the dialogues, what should I do?. I really believe the idea is great and new, how can i present it? who would write the dialogues? does tis sometimes happen or is it always the same writer to write the all script? thanks
Just sit down and WRITE! It doesn't have to be about your current work, it can be anything. You could write about the issues you have with the frakin' loved ones disturbing you as you attempt to pound out a few pages for that narrative that you have to get done, or even a brief description of your office/cave where you ply your craft. Just WRITE, simple as that.
@Mara--I would be happy to collaborate with you on your story. I'm at Robert@RobertJSmith.com. Smitty
Im a songwriter of over 10 years and still get writers block...it just works differently for each individual human being. :)
Completely agree with J. Wiley. Keep a notebook of ideas. When you hit a wall in your current project, outline something else. Jot down some new thoughts. Just write. Anything. Once you take the pressure off, the ideas will flow.
This is what works for me personally, feel free to try it. Ok so you had an idea and you've benn working on it for weeks then all of a sudden that dreaded feeling of not knowing where to go next kicks in. I walk away from it, try my best not to even think about the project at all, do something else for about a week, then certain smells and sights that inspire me to write like fresh coffee, reading other screenplays, even the sight of an old typewriter all begin to make me suddenly think of a way through.it's almost subliminal, we get ideas from our subconscious mind so once we occupy our conscious mind with something else our subconsciance kicks in and says hey listen to me. Other than that, play Halo for a bit vent your frustration on matchmaking for a couple of hours, it actually clears the mind abit at the same time.
Well done the Cory!
I have list of movies and albums that inspire me. Watching or listening to things that have moved me before helps shake off the dust.
@ Ryan Harris I love when it rains it pours creativity..
Fishing season I grab a fly rod and find a stream. Winter I grab my 20-gauge side-by-side and shoot clays.
Screenwriter John August said "Writers don't get writer's block. Dreamers get writer's block." It is a very true statement. Writers write. The "writer's block" is what happens when you allow things to overwhelm you, or you allow your natural instinct to avoid what you don't want to do to over come you. The term writer's block is what people who aren't really writer's use to explain to others why they don't have anything to show for it. Now, that doesn't mean that a feeling of dread or being overwhelmed doesn't occur. However, every writer will tell you the same thing. Write. Don't think about it. The moment the words start to flow, you will discover that the block was entirely mental, that dread feeling, the brain telling the body it wants to do something else. Syd Field says that the worst distraction is yourself. Writing is a battle of you versus the world, and you versus yourself. Everyone will want you to do everything...and you will want to do everything else.
@Robert - totally agree. Writers write! There is nothing that will stop a writer. Focus is sometimes difficult, but with tricks you'll need to discover on your own, which basically just boil down to write-write-write, you won't encounter writers' block EVER.
Great discussion. Really great discussion. I'm the one usually battling writer's block but after reading this, I think I can manage :)
its really inspiring to see how one question, can lead to such a huge response of great answers. :)
The block is a thing than happens with all writer, but I broke this wall watching movies and listening music
I find many options to improve my scripts during exercise: walking, running, and biking.
I am a writer too Sean and man oh man do I know what you are talking about well when it happens to me I take a break from my writing and things will settle down in my head and then it happens you begin to see in your head the next thing happening in your book and or script I took 3 months from my 3rd book and now I am ready to start writing once more.
Sean , Reid and Debra have great advice. The best thing is to take your mind off the writing for a while. Do something ridiculous, or childish. Treat yourself to a good movie, or a good read. Invite a friend over for some beers -- martinis (my fav) -- and some great conversation. Soon, ideas for your writing pop into your head. :-D ~Maggie
there appears to be no writer's block when writing about writer's block.
Maybe it's my journalism background, but I find the best cure for writer's block is a deadline. I set them for myself all the time when I don't have one set for me by a client or editor. Juggling multiple deadlines is the tricky part!
Having been a professional writer for over 21 years, I can tell you a little secret. There is no such thing as writer's block, merely lack of planning and time spent writing. Let me explain... Most writers are not use to the writing process, or have not found the method that works for them. Lack of initial development and preparation of the storyline, spending the time required, ends up costing greater time during the entire writing process. Instead of outlining the story a writer that deals with writer’s block sits and stares at a screen wondering what is next. When, if they had just taken the time to outline their story completely, they should be actually simply putting the outline into developed sentence structure and creating the dynamic part of the writing process. Yes, I’m stating that writer’s block is due to a lack of preparation for the actual writing process. A well developed outline, understanding where the story needs to go and how to get there, before you start writing the actual story, will remove any possibility of writer’s block. Now, you may say that this method works for me, but here is where I know the process works for more than just myself. I mentor writers, as part of my work. Before these writers started working with me, several of them dealt with writer’s block. None of them do now. Overcoming any possibility of writer’s block consists of practice, preparation and experience. In other words, keep pushing the pen. Do not stop pushing the pen. Learn how to outline and develop your story before you start writing it. It is by pushing the pen you will never deal with writer’s block. If you truly want to become a professional writer you can hire me to teach you, go to another coach that can help you, or push the pen until you learn your own method. I, as most quality coaches, am not cheap, but I am good at what I do. Starting with speeding up your writing process by at least 50% and teaching you how to actually outline and develop your story before you ever lay the first drop of ink in the writing of it. So, with that said, I will state it again… There is no such thing as Writer’s Block!
Scott, I beg to differ. Hemingway, Conrad, and Byron and Shelley whilst only in the throes of depression had writer's block. The latter two wrote like crazy when in their manic episodes. There are others, of course. Great writing -- professional or otherwise -- comes with its share of burdens/setbacks/hurdles, and writer's block is one of them. ~Maggie
I completely agree with Scott. As does every professional screenwriter, novelist. You used Hemingway, Conrad, and Byron as examples, but they had something changing their mentality, Depression. Setbacks happen, and are going to happen. The general idea of a setback is something that requires that you can't be around what you use to write. The writer in me doesn't let me leave the house without a pad and pen that I can put into my pocket. My wife constantly is jotting down notes for me that I spout off when I'm driving. Stephen King, when asked how he writes the amount he does, simply answered "One letter at a time, one word at a time." It is the honest truth. Writers do not get writers block. People who want to be writers get it. The only way to solve it is to write, and write, and write. Writing is more than just putting the pen to the page. Its developing, outlining, researching, reading things similar as means to see what everyone else is doing. The illusion of writers block is simply that people who want to be writers run into the actual task of writing, and their mind, their desires, and their boredom, gets in the way.
I also agree with Scott; I don't believe in writer's block. However, although it might sound counterintuitive to some, when I get stuck on a project, I simply walk away for a few moments. I take a break, as long as I'm not working on a tight deadline. If the deadline is quickly closing in, I keep plowing away and eventually, I come up with something useable.
I enjoy writing, and I am no where near a professional; though, I have to say that I found that when I was writing, and was at a stand still, then that means the story is boring, and to rethink where your going with it. If I am writing, and all of a sudden I don't know what else to write, then to me the story will not be exciting enough. I recommend writing out an outline, and plan on what the beginning, middle, and end. That will give a good direction on where you are going with the story. I notice when I had a good outline that I loved then I knew where I was already going with the story, and that's when you start writing, and your hearts racing, because as your writing it is playing in your head, and your fingers can't keep up with the movie. That's when you know a story has potential, and when it makes you excited writing then it may excite others too. Plus, when your excited of what your writing, then you don't have to worry about writer's block. If you have it, then rethink your story, making it more exciting, dramatic, ext. Like I said, I am no professional, just giving my opinion.
Kyle, great advice! Victoria your comment is just as wondrous. Research and editing have taken up most of time as of late. But for reference material, these links should help: http://www.deadbrain.com/entertainment/article_2006_08_16_4556.php and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writer's_block. The former is an interview with Stephen King when he had writer's block. The latter compiles much of the research I've done on writer's block. As a final note, Sean, the assistance given on this thread is priceless. Try each one and see what works for you. We are all different after all. ;-) Good luck!
The second link didn't show up for some reason. Here it is: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Writer's_block. The previous one is an interview with Stephen King when he had writer's block. This one compiles most of my research on the matter. Good stuff. :-D
Like Victoria I do not believe in writers block. I think when this happens it is just a need for fresh ideas. Always look to amp up the story. Write what you would want to watch on the big screen.
Watch movie trailers! it works for me.
I still believe in writer's block, I've been there I know how it is. But this does not mean that I stop writing or jot down ideas and inspirations that I have, I just feel tired or ideas do not fit. It's just a matter of rest and resume the story when you're ready.
I walk away, literally, from the computer screen. I also have a stalling issue when it comes to starting. I hate outlining because I had a hard time using any of the known templates. Then a writer buddy from TS gave me a great one that works. I'm now on page 67 of my new project and it's only been 2 weeks.
This has been a great post to read if nothing more than to gain insights of 101 ways to approach writing. I write when I want to (which is actually a lot) I never really get blocked but I also don't work with deadlines and if I did I would probably do better because I do get things done under pressure. I think all the ways to center or not center or write or not write are all valid and useful tools. I would however equate "writers block" with "avoidance or self doubt".because the blockage is "subconscious". All the advice seems to all be very good.
Karen, 'Writer's Block' DOES mean you stop writing. It's not that you simply stop writing on that project that you were working on, but that the words don't come at all. Otherwise it might be called something along the lines of "Story Block" or "Didn't Spend Enough Time Outlining", or half-a-dozen other things. This is also why I stated that there is no such thing as "Writer's Block', just the lack of experience in production writing, which comes with a lot of practice. A professional writer does not simply work on one project at a time, but rather focuses on one project, while tinkering with a dozen others. When they becomes stumped by a storyline in the outlining, they go on to another project, grab a drink, go for a walk, set it aside for later, or whatever else works for them, while moving on to the next project. Sometimes they have to go and do a bit more research, or figure out the back story to a character a bit more to understand how that character will react to their current situation, but they simply don't get Writer's Block. And I disagree with Stephen King stating that he had Writer's Block. By his description, he simply hadn't finished outlining his story enough (in his head) to continue writing that particular project. Honestly, I do not see how anyone can say several hours in the middle of the day that he couldn't write on the current novel is Writer's Block. Especially since he went and banged out another 46 pages that evening on that very story. Everyone's brain has to take a break and that is usually by switching topics. Focusing on a single genre, or format will dry up the well, before taking a break from it and working on something else, is required to refill the well. I also agree with Kahish that this has been a great post!
Thank you for the explanation, Mr. Brown. Wow, this means I never got a Writer's Block \o/
Great discussion. I wrote a post about 18 Ways To Cure Writer's Block- http://goodinaroom.com/blog/18-ways-to-cure-writers-block/
Stephanie, that is a good list to start with! Well done. You might want to add drinking to it!
I just write. Like a jogger runs through stitch.
Many years ago a TV Producer once told me she cleared her writers block by washing the walls in her home. The general idea was to move the body, busy the hands to free up the mind. I washed the walls, once, it worked, but the thought of having very clean walls disinterested me. The concept does work and is great advice.
Play some music to get you in the mood of the scene you are working on.
@ alex stulac thats usually what i do!! great advice!! :)
I'll give myself a writing prompt for an unrelated story (or sometimes related) that sets up a situation and then write the worst scene possible. As bad as it gets. My block usually comes from trying to get the perfect scene in the moment, so this exercise gives me a no pressure environment and let's me have fun and write all the things I don't think will ever work. It gets my brain thinking and relaxed so I can try again with the blocked scene.
There is no such thing as writers block, only periods of Gestation.
This is a great interview I read yesterday which includes one of the best comments about writers block I've read in some time. http://www.thegloculgroup.com/mag/an-authors-secret-sauce-of-bestselling...
What a great question. As a long-time writer, I'm like everyone else. I avoid the white blank Word page for hours and sometimes days -- even longer if it's my own work -- and do almost everything but sit down and write. lol. One thing I do notice is when I do sit down and write, once you key the first strike, it mostly flows out of the fingertips once you figure it out. But also, in order to figure out what to write and how, I might go for a walk, watch TV, go shopping, do something where something might engage me where I'll land an idea. There is no one method, but so far it seems to all get done.
Richard, that is a great link. Going to spread it to my other networks.
Very welcome, Debbie...Thank YOU for paying it forward.
I just roll with it. There are times when ideas pour out of me and I have to pull over to write them down to make sure I remember. Then I can go a week or two when my mind wanders. If I have a deadline though it's easier for me to stay focused and I rarely have issues.
Personally, I just push through it. If it comes out as garbage, just keep on writing - and soon enough you get back "in track" (or "on track", depending how you look at it). If the pages you've typed ARE garbage, just toss 'em - they got you back to where you wanted to be.
Well said, Peter. Too many writers think that a dearth of ideas will just pass. You need to work through them. The key is to never stop writing.
Writing is 99% sweat equity.
It happened to me when I was the head writer for a webseries. The creators kept adding characters after each episode I wrote. It was a serial so introducing new characters interfered with the plot and I just lost the ability to think of ways to add characters and stay withing the story during a 5 page episode. I wrote 7 episodes and that was it. They said no problem take ur time. They even wanted me to start on a new series they came up with. But I had nothing to give. I wrote nothing for 5 months. Then one day something just sparked me. I've been going hard now for over a year. Writing, i feel, cant be forced. At least it shouldn't be. Relax, do something else to keep your mind busy. family stuff, exercise a hobby or do what I did and watch the entire Seinfeld series in like a month. Turns out writing is pretty easy. Getting it noticed is the hard part.
Very true, Lester. When you sit down and say to yourself "I'm going to be creative - NOW", odds are you won't be. Creativity can't be turned on and off like a tap, but if you keep the pipes well-maintained you have a better chance at having Great Flow (so to speak).
I just sit back, turn on some good music, and as the song is playing I visualize the story I have so far in my head. After I have watched the amazing film in my head, whatever needs to hit the paper next falls right into place.
Another suggestion is to maybe have a script reader/story analyst (like me!) take a look at what you have written to maybe give you a fresh/new outlook on your project.
Peter, while most people (including my earlier posting) indicate that creativity can't be turned on and off like a tap, as you said, isn't that the challenge that a professional writer faces every day? One needs to be able to do exactly that --- summon up that creativity. I like to think that we all have the creativity turned on all the time... the trick is how you tap into it; how you access it... which is probably different for every writer. Your advice of keeping the pipes well-maintained is sound and some of the best words of wisdom.
Does anyone have this problem? - I start writing the scenes in my script based on a certain outline I've already written. Then I see a film and get inspired and want to change my outline. I wrote 30 pages of a script and came back to it after awhile and didn't like it at all. Now I'm writing a new outline! There seems to be no end to this.
Jeremy, you hit the proverbial nail on the head.
I've never suffered from writers block. One of the reasons might be because I write a 10/12 page treatment, written as the script unfolds. Once that's done, you can really fail, because you've mapped your story. it also help iron out problems with your story.
I'm not a script writer. My background is journalism. But when writer's block hits me, I force myself to keep writing (even though it's just rambling) until I finally have enough. I close Word and I refuse to look at it. Watch TV, listen to iPod, look at funny memes, whatever it takes and however long it takes to relax. Then I go back at it, read through my ramblings and find little nuggets that I can actually use. Put on my headphones and write again.
I do something else and then go back to it later and/or I ask other people for suggestions.
Hi Sean. I personally do not subscribe to the idea of writer's block. Perhaps, it could be when I'm in my story and I move it in a direction of question or uncertainty, I never at any time stop writing it. I always find my way out of the woods and back onto the central narrative road.
In my humble opinion, there is no such thing as writer's block. I just sit with a blank piece of paper and write anything. Something will always come out. It may be garbage that you'll never use, but you're writing. Inevitably, something of substance will come along and get you back on track.
If I don't get further with my novel, there usually is a reason for that. When that happens I feel like not seeing the forest for all those trees. Then, I switch off my laptop for as long as it takes until I figure out what's wrong, while doing something that clears my mind. That something usually is slapping clay plaster on the walls of our old house (aka construction site), but it can be anything that needs my hands to work with. After a day or two of that, I have my brain so full with plots, scenes, and lines that I'm close to explosion. But that's only what works for me :-) Cheers Annelie http://www.amazon.com/Devils-Grin-Kronberg-Crimes-ebook/dp/B009BTQJ74
I like Kirby's comment. If I hit a wall, I ask myself what my character would most likely do in the situation. Let the character do the ploting.
@Michael - I see what you are saying, but I believe garbage is writer's block. I do the same thing you do. I just start 'Free writing', and then eventually I bust through the wall. I view it more like sharpening a pencil. All those wood shaving fall to the ground, and when your pencil gets sharp you can really start to write.
All writers are different. I have to deliver 10 pages to my co-writer. At the moment it's not flowing because the story pieces don't fit yet. (Even with the outline.) Once I give myself a deadline, I FORCE myself to muddle through it, and then BAM! The magic begins... abracadabra bitches! ;-)
I hardly ever get writer's block(knock on wood).
Same here, Amber. Those characters we create just want to talk, talk, talk. that is, except on those days they are feeling more introspective LOL
Sean, by coincidence, I told my students Weds nite that I don't believe in writer's block. Reason: If we have thoroughly brainstormed the storyline and threads before writing, we have all we need to write the story. The only times I've been stuck in my screenwriting is when I didn't do the upfront planning. That can happen to experienced writers, too! Good luck, my friend.
I have no idea, never suffered it. Might have to switch over to another project temporarily, but still technically getting work done. If there is an approaching deadline which is rare, I just keep on writing. When my inspiration drops down to nearly nothing, my left eye will clamp down and I will get it done. Than I take some aspirin, go to bed, and go over what I have written being filled with jubilant inspiration that technically I have completed the project.
I just switch to the "other" book going. There is always something to add to at least one ongoing plot. The main problem I think is when writing is the only thing one does. I do race several other creative horses to writing hours actually come at a premium and I never miss one. But as it is said that 45% of Artists are ADD to some degree working in different medias is what fulfills me the best.
I switch projects too. Also... print out and read... though I try to backstitch writing - go back to the previous day's work and edit, then just keep moving forward again... and try not to look back.
I actually journal for a few days and don't even think about "writing", I also have two or three projects on the go - I also go do 'non-writing' activities like go for a run, watch a movie - you fill the well with experience and usually that's when something will hit me :)
I hope you crack the SCRIPT only :-)
As I was feeding the baby in the middle of the night, considering applying for some shitty jobs and changing a nappy this morning I suddenly remembered what cures my writers block... menial tasks. You don't look like the kind of bloke who allows his surroundings and children to degenerate into squalor when the writing's going well... but, er, I recommend it: Puts the job in perspective when you stop to clear up.
thats my problem I guess maryanne, i get a lot of writing done but my home is a mess.
We all have things we are passionate about. Figure out what that is, any subject you can talk about for hours, and if you can tie that into the story, you'll have an engine that drives the plot in very specific ways. For me, this always cures writer's block.
Long aimless walks to nowhere...clear the mind and give the ideas a space to land...drinking also helps.
When I write a story, I outline it and plot it out to the end because my writing time is limited and precious. If I can't plot it to the end, then there's no point in starting. So if I run into writer's block, I jump ahead in my outline to a scene I can see clearly in my head and am jazzed to get down on paper. The part that has me at a halt will be resolved once I've had more time to think about it, or when my juices are flowing strong. As was stated before, always write something.
Haven't experienced this yet, but I only write when I feel like it. If I don't feel like writing I don't! If I need inspiration I'll listen to music or recall a dream.
What's amazing is to read writers from the 17-1800's. They weren't permitted to have "writers block" they didn't meet deadlines they got dropped for the next guy that could.
I used to think that writer's block was lack of imagination or creativity, until I read somewhere, that writer's block is when you stop writing. As the days go by if you don't write you are in trouble. So what I do is I take a break from my computer and I go and do some gardening or some gourmet cooking, something fun. Then I go back to where I stop and start writing again, but I make sure I write every day. Hope this helps to destroy that block. Also, I have found a lot of help and encouragement in the blogs that are in Stage 32. Happy writing.
I talk to friends about my story ideas: talking out loud about concepts, characters, etc., is really important to me and has always helped make good ideas great! Friends will have random anecdotes, or weird incidents that has happened to them, which is often enough to spark an idea! Talk it out.
Yes, stop writing (or not writing as the case may be) close it down and go out to the park or an gallery or to a bar...Take a notepad with you but mostly forget it for a few days a week..The more you push when not inspired the more likely you'll end up writing a load of 'forced' stuff which you won't be happy with and probably edit out.. Best advice? take a break and switch off from it..
Play golf !!!!
I walk away from it for awhile, do something fun then come back to it.
Golf, tennis, Cricket, Hockey, Fishing, it doesn't really matter which one. Just get out there and do something different. Have to say I've been writing 4 5 years and never had writers block.
Have you read The Artist Way? That has helped me. http://www.amazon.com/The-Artists-Way-Julia-Cameron/dp/1585421472/ref=sr...
Haven't had that problem in years. I have the opposite one: can't stop writing. Can't get to sleep, can't eat, don't want to socialize, can't work at a "real" job. Just want to write. Of course, it's not all quality work, but I can always go back and trim the fat
Thanks, you five
Cory - I used to be agnostic, but that was back when I was optimistic
Abuser priests never gave me any chance to learn how to pray, but leaving the claws of catholic boarding schools my parents paid much hard worked money for.
as someone who went to a parochial school for eight years where I was taught by some of the best nuns/teachers I ever had, I'm sad to say I never experienced, saw or heard of any inappropriate acts by priests. I say sad because I would have loved to get one of those hefty settlement checks
I think willingly seeking creativity is a must, so even when relaxing mind is on overdrive working thinking collaborating connections, then two days later a week later, it all cements if you will to mind. Stay open, if you open up you will find what you need, all depends on how open you get. Never force writing, it must flow. :)
I program myself to go to sleep and have inspiring dreams. Trouble is, it keeps me up all night
Usually I have a writers block when writing a script if I skip a vital scene that was suppose to occur prior. I write one line sentences of what each scene is about. When I began to elaborate on the action of a scene I have overcome my writers block. As for starting a new script , my writers block its usually about finding a good subject, plot and back story that will allow me start writing. If I am still suffering a writer block I have a Spiritual script that I will read that clears the negative energy blocks.
watch the Discovery Channel. Go to Drudge. Tracking Board does a 'THERE'S A MOVIE IN THERE SOMEWHERE' spot. Very cool. Hope that helps.
Do something unrelated to writing. I do landscape photography. I go out there and shoot... In the process, I meet people that add a dimension to my characters or a perspective different from mine. By the time I upload my photos, I am inspired to return to my desk (or the coffeehouse) to pick up where I left off. Sometimes changing coffeehouses also helps. :)
Honestly, when the juices aren't flowing, I write anyway. I have a long list of ideas on file, and even if I'm not inspired I will make myself work on them. A line or two, a character profile, something. It may feel like junk, but I have to maintain that rhythm of writing every day so that when inspiration hits, I'm not rusty.
Sean, I have a sure fire way of beating writer's block. It starts with the seven stages of a scene: goal, conflict, disaster, reaction, reflection, decision, action. Determine where you are in a particular scene and you'll then know what stage to start writing next.
I find it helps to put aside the piece I'm struggling with and work on something else -- preferably something fun. That way, I feel productive. I also return to the difficult project with a new perspective, and that gets the ball rolling again.
Here's a recent article of mine, "Ten tips to overcome writer's block," which I wrote with all types of writers in mind. http://johnniemazzocco.wordpress.com/
I have found that taking a long drive allows the story to unfold. I also do not force myself to write, as writing comes naturally. I do not think in terms of "writer's block" as that would make any breaks in writing seem like a bad thing, when it is just how creativity works. It flows in, then it is time to turn attention elsewhere until it comes again.
While Yvette's method is great for her, I find that working on several projects at the same time breaks the block. When one of the pieces refuse to stand up, I switch to another where fresh ideas have been hiding. So everyone has to find the method that works best for them. I suggest you walk away from the project, take a shower, heat up the cold coffee, call someone up, and smoke a... never mind.
Very interesting question Sean. Haven't read all the replies, but writer's block can manifest itself in a variety of ways depending on the writer - and can be fixed in just as many ways. I would not agree that working on multiple projects simultaneously is the answer - because to me - shifting focus from one incomplete work to another so as not to become "stale" means you aren't truly "blocked' to begin with. You simply don't know where you're going on one or all of your scripts. You should never start a script unless you know your characters, AND the beginning and ending of your story (which is why the middle acts are the most difficult to write). I started one script in my life where I didn't know the ending (dynamite set up - but no ending) and I got 65 pages in - and stalled. That is NOT writer's block IMO, that's not having an ending. The script went into a drawer for months (maybe longer) until - out of the blue - the ending popped into my head when I wasn't even thinking about it - and I finished the script. I have had legit WB a couple times in my career. usually a psychological thing - born out of frustration about what was or wasn't happening in my life and/or career and the feeling of "why bother?" Why write something new when nothing will come of it. Why write something that will end up as a title written on the spine of a copy piled on some studio exec's shelf? All the systems kind of shut down. I'm all for writing X amount of pages a day - and none if you're not motivated on any particular day or just lose the thread temporarily - or just a couple of lines if that's all you're feeling. But in that case - you're not blocked. one time - I hadn't written a new spec in a few months. I was burnt out. I had someone at my agency ask me for one liners describing all my titles - and they all started to sound the same. I decided to take a vacation. My agent called - worried at my lack of output (on originals only - if I landed an assignment - I would have been able to do it) and thought I might have writer's block. Said she could suggest a good shrink who specialized in such things. I laughed. Told her I didn't have WB - that was when I wanted to write and couldn't (my definition of true writer's block). I didn't want to write. It was true. But as another 4-6 months went by - and i realized I was avoiding even sitting at the desk where I worked, and trying to do anything and everything to make the 11 am til 6 pm part of the day go by (when i would normally write) in full avoidance of picking up a pen - at that point - I really wanted to start writing - and couldn't - psychologically - and I was indeed blocked. How did I get unblocked? Crazy story - totally mine. Not sure it would work for anyone else. I'm home watching TV and eating dinner. Buddy calls. Fellow writer. Asks me if I had seen a particular gangster movie that had just opened. Nope. He had the screenplay - by a very esteemed writer - and wanted to read me some "great speeches. You gotta hear this dialogue". I didn't want to be bothered. "Let me eat my dinner". He starts reading anyway. While he's going - I put my dinner down - go to a cabinet and dig out an old (10 years?) script of mine - a gangster script. Never sold. Never in the marketplace. Helped me land my 1st agent.) I thumb through it looking for a long piece of dialogue of my own. Find a speech. As soon as my buddy stops reading over the phone, joking around, I say, "You think that's good? Listen to this" and read HIM my speech. He flips. (Used to be a studio exec). "Have I ever seen this?" No I tell him. "Can I read it?" Yeah, sure. I get him the script. One of the first I'd ever written. Learned a lot of technique since. He loves the script - tells me the gangster movie is going to explode at the box office (it was a hit) and every studio "will be looking for another one". He offers to rewrite it with me. I'm blocked - so I agree. we get together - talk about who's doing what scenes - map out Act One - agree to exchange pages in 2 weeks. I go home in a panic - because I've been blocked - and haven't written a word in a calendar year. But I do not want to show up in 2 weeks with zip - so - I sit down - and start writing. That was it. Obviously it wasn't from scratch - I had a good blueprint to work with - but the bottom line is I wrote. Self imposed pressure not to show up empty handed. Came to his condo 2 weeks later and we exchanged pages. Problem 2. I didn't like his pages. Thought I was about to lose a friend over this. He finishes reading my pages and says, "we have a problem". Maybe it's mutual. Nope. He says, "This stuff is great. I don't 'get' the characters the way you do. You've lived with them a long time. You don't need me. You can do this alone. Let's get some lunch. " And as we're walking to a place - I divulge that I have WB and hadn't written in a year. He says, "You wrote what I just read didn't you?" Yeah. "Then you ain't blocked. That stuff is great. I'm walking away from a gold mine. You're gonna sell this script for a shitload of money" - and every block the number in his head goes up - and he's making me more nervous. All he wants is for me to name a character in the script after his grandfather - and he buys lunch. I go home - toss all his pages. Start from there - and in 3 weeks - block is gone and I've written a new script from page one. Give it to my agent - who's thrilled - she says it's the best thing I've ever done. Asks for some changes to an opening scene and some tightening in the 2nd act. Says she can option it as is - or I can do a little more work and she can sell it for 3X as much. I tell her I'll take the option. She laughs. I go home - pace the floor over the changes - for 3 weeks - actually thought she'd shifted me back into writer's block over the requested changes (you're an agent! Not a buyer! they'll all want changes too - why do them NOW??!!, I'm thinking out loud to myself as I'm doing zip) Then - I snap out of it - sit down - crank out the changes in about 5 days - give it to her. On a Wednesday. She goes out with it that Friday. By Monday - her phone's ringing off the hook. The script ended up selling - for 5X what she promised. To this day - the most lucrative deal of my writing career. On a script that was a rewrite of one of the 1st I'd ever done - based on a fluke phone call from a friend and my crazy reaction to it - and it broke a one year writer's block for me. A full calendar year when I hadn't written word one on anything. (this reply is more writing than I did that year). So - my answer to your terrific question is - first make sure that what you have really qualifies as writer's block and then find your way out. To each his or her own. there's a million stories in the Naked City - and this has been one of them. Not sure how much help it will be for anyone on this thread - but hopefully it will give someone a laugh - or inspiration - and maybe that alone will be enough to break someones stall. Best of luck to all. We're all kinda in this together.
What a great account. Inciting incident; conflict; suspense; resolution--Can I option it?
Absolutely Larry. Never smoked and gave up coffee a long time ago - so I find the best outlet about writing - is writing - even if I'm only writing about writing. Not sure if your option offer refers to the script discussed or the story about its gestation. The latter is available. You can contact me directly as I'm currently flying sans agent (not a preferred choice - but I save the 10%). The actual script is owned by Fox - but you might entice them to put it into turnaround.
I love it when the muse's still small voice rules, when I belong to that state of grace where creativity and brilliance reign. But if I'm not writing it it goes.
Thank you for wording the condition so beautifully, Harry. Those of us who have experienced what you describe are the fortunate ones. And if we can help those who don't, then we re twice blessed.
StoryCode takes care of writer's block www.wix.com/jlovins1/media-story
A few thoughts on writer's block: http://johnniemazzocco.com/ten-ways-to-banish-writers-block-from-your-li...
My problem is I have so many ideas for different stories that I end up bouncing back and forth from script to script and I get burnt out. I need to overcome this and just pick one and get it done faster.
You have to step out of character when you do that... And sacrifice the authenticity of the dialogue. Write the treatments, then stick with one until done. :)
Do I sense some ADD there:-). Not to worry 48% of all Art and Design oriented persons are deemed to be ADD on different levels. I could not do NOTHING if I would not know that in an hour day or week I have the freedom to do something totally different. I write many books within the same time frame, say of a year. I just read through my titles and then read the last 5-10 pages again and zooom I am off in that particular story. I write over 2000pages per year. So you see it still can get pretty tensly creative. And the hopping from one to the other subject makes it like real life. You leave your home your scene changes you look at a movie you visit family each time is like reading or living another story that you connect to .. I have been told also focus focus focus ..well my dear let me tell you if you do you will fail if your mind is not ready for it. That is why I am a Designer and I was the happiest when I had 37 Designers to direct in 14 different world medias...that is the best for ADD... Now where did I put that writers block again....ah yea I think I left it in that ....xxxxx.... book :-)
Oh you got me right Victor. I do have ADD. lol and it has been challenging to focus my brain on one project at a time. When I have a co-writer it's a little easier, but writing on my own I have so many ideas that excite me and gets me motivated and then another story idea pops in my head and gets me pumped, so I have to do an outline on that and it continues a vicious cycle of uncompleted scripts. Thankfully I have four done already, posted in my profile just waiting to be discovered! lol
avoid writer's block altogether with my system www.wix.com/jlovins1/media-story 801 462 1656 John Lovins
I walk away and do something that my inner artist likes to do.
"I walk away and do something that my inner artist likes to do." Masturbate?
I like to call that procasturbation Dustin
Or taking time out to assess one's creative possibilities.
U can be utterly boring and borrow a De Bono ethic...Think outside the square. The truth is no one is going to do this logic, survival is of necessity a programed edifice... It sits like the nuveau [sounds better than new,] turd. Stifling thinking because you allowed it. If you want to preclude, programmed [reasoned,) thinking...Try wearing a Orange tou tou on Broadway...[they wont notice you of course...but you will ''perhaps'' have...released yourself...] The tendons will...
Good question. Over coming writers block. Mint tea for starters. Don't think about the end only the chapter at hand. Carry a tape recorder every where you go. Inspiration is in hand in a sec and can be gone just as fast. Think of things you would do and things you would not do. and lots and lots of notes connecting every thing together. Think in detail and you will never run out of writing material. have a good one.
Steve Martin doesn't believe in writer's block. He believes his mind is taking its time to construct a viable idea that will come when it's ready. I agree with that approach. Sometimes a block means go do something else while an idea gestates.
TAKE A SHOWER, WATER IS A GREAT MEDIUM!
What's worked for me: 1: Start with a complete outline. 3 acts, with enough points per act to make a story. If the story changes, update and complete the outline to the new story before you move on. 2: There are times you'll be stuck with a scene. You can see parts of the scene in your head, but don't have all the points of it yet. Drop a placeholder and move on. - FIGHT SCENE!! FINISH LATER - - WALTER FINDS THE THING - Whatever you have to do to keep swimming. Writers are sharks. If we stop, we're done. Do what you must to keep going. 3: Don't fight the scene. There was a scene I was trying to write as a scene in an Italian restaurant. I rewrote that scene 4 times a day for a week. It just wasn't working out. Ever day was pulling teeth to get the scene down, and I really wanted the setting to be this Italian restaurant. The lead did... The supporting character did.. The waitress... The other table... Someone from the bathroom... Nothing. I hate it, rewrite. As soon as I changed the setting to a casino, the scene was done. It was perfect. There's my 2cents. Do with them what you will. /cheers
The outline gets me back on track, but like Rick said, sometimes you gotta rewrite parts of the outline ' if the scene comes out more delicious than on the outline.
Many times "writer's block" is just fear and insecurity manifesting itself in a way that we don't realize. If we don't write it, we can never be criticized or rejected, so we procrastinate like we don't want to walk out on that gangplank. I have never found avoiding the work a good way to breakthrough that creative block. There are so many reasons to stop writing when it becomes difficult. Trust me, I know just having gone through this myself. The great Stephen Pressfield calls it resistance and I talk about that in my article: http://scriptcat.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/does-procrastination-resistance/ And you can also go back to the creative well and come up dry—what happens then? It's like a vicious circle, anxiety working on fact your writing is NOT working, you can't SEE the scenes in your head, and you are NOT writing: http://scriptcat.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/what-happens-when-you-go-back-...