Get back to writing
Overcoming writer’s block might be a difficult thing to do, particularly when one has a strong desire to write. Which might seem like a paradox, but it is not: the trick, I think, is to just allow yourself to be in this phase of lack of inspiration, during which your psyche, maybe in a subconscious way, tries to come up with a solution and a very good idea could emerge at some point, if you remain relaxed. But we use to push ourself and therefore accumulate an unnecessary pressure which, in reality, makes your brain to flounder and take more time to do his job, which is counterproductive and something we tend to avoid, and, doing so, the tension only grows and we are in a bigger pickle...
So how not to be caught in such a vicious circle? We just should not ponder too much or, ideally, not at all, which is a very rare, transient state of mind. The first step could involve stopping to call it a “block”, but only a pause for reflection. And who knows if what you come up with after hours of consideration and hesitation, so little and unimportant as it could appear, although hardly earned, isn’t better than what you get effortlessly and rapidly? I guess it will stay an unsolvable mystery unless the machine permitting the alternate dimensions travel is invented.
around the clock
on my wall
lets me fall
now i am
I originally posted this about four months ago, and with this most recent challenge, it wouldn’t hurt to put it up again for both new writers and the seasoned vets. We all need a reminder to remember now and then,
Every time I hear someone mention writer’s block, I immediately think of a street where no one but writer’s live.
I also describe writer’s block as “mental pause.”
I know it can be frustrating, especially after you have gone so far or so deep into your writing and then the mental light bulb burns out and you are left in the dark. I felt this way after I first wrote “The Strangest Love of All”. I really wanted to write a sequel to it almost immediately after I finished the original, but it never came to me, and that bothered me for years. Then one day (about six months ago that is), it came to me in a flash, and I was all over it and wrote the sequel in less than 15 days.
Here are several ways to overcome writer’s block.
1. Go for a walk. Walking can clear up your mind.
2. Eliminate distractions (turn off the TV, send the kids to a foster home [kidding])
3. Do something to get your blood flowing. (Running or exercising.)
4. Play. (That could be a game of solitaire to a video game.)
5. Change your environment.
6. Read a book. (Books are good for they give us ideas.)
7. Listen to music (try classical, jazz, or a mix of any type music).
The next time you have writer’s block, ask yourself these questions. Why can’t I focus?What am I lacking in inspiration? Why am I so stressed and frustrated? When the answers come, the block will begin to disappear.
But here is where I bust the myth wide open about writer’s block. There is no such thing.
Writer’s block doesn’t exist. Writer’s block is a negative phrase and if you use it, you are only self-perpetuating the cycle of being “stuck” in your writing. And that is a no harm, no foul situation. Just do one (or more) of the things listed above to clear your head and before you know it, you’ll be knocking out a thousand words a day in that novel you are writing, or finally figuring out that last line in a poem.
And if any of the above doesn’t help try these:
1. Get it down on paper. Write your main ideas down in columns, and list absolutely everything that comes to mind.
2. Don’t be afraid to step away (get away from the laptop/computer and do something else worth doing).
3. Finish what you’ve started.
4. Put some fun in where you are writing (keep things lively).
5. Look in unlikely places for ideas.
6. Explore other creative disciplines (this is always a good go to).
7. Go against the flow.
8. Research. (I always say, write what you know and research the rest).
9. Grab some important “you time”
Hard pressed to find something to write about? Read your local paper or check the news online. In both, you will find stories made every day there.
One final note: Writer’s block can be caused by too much stress, lack of rest or fresh ideas, and even putting too many emotions into what you write. Either way, this can be a distressing moment for any writer and can lead to lack of interest.
Make sure you get a good night’s sleep, start out with a hearty breakfast (of choice), and go in with the attitude of “I can do this because I know how.”
Finally, I have written a writer’s manual simply titled “Creative Writing” ... with fourteen phases of writing, you will find useful.
The picture attached is in Baltimore Maryland, that housed such writers as Frederick Douglas, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zora Neale Hurston, H. L. Mencken, Edna St. Vincent Millay, John Dos Passos, Edgar Allan Poe, and Gertrude Stein. They all lived and wrote in Maryland, mostly in Baltimore, as do current literary powerhouses John Barth, Madison Smartt Bell, Stephen Dixon, Laura Lippman, Alice McDermott, and Anne Tyler.
One way to escape this world and to appreciate emotional truths of it at the same time is to write fiction, another way to escape is drinking or to smoke weed or take on even harder stuff. The healthiest of all these options is probably hallucinogens.
For whatever reason, like a disease, the writer strives to keep on writing, even though, in comparing it to drugs, often the act of writing is stale or old and doesn't take and the trip is without value.
I had set aside today, my only day off this week, to put down a thousand or even a couple thousand words for a parody story of the founding of America I'm writing about a pirate during the Revolutionary War. I haven't written a word all day long. I've watched football, talked on the phone to a lady friend and drank a few beers with some friends outside in the cool weather under the sun of their back lawn sitting in rocking chairs measured at six feet apart from one another. If anyone were to ask me what I did today I'd tell them what I consider to be true, that I was trying to write. The entire day, like Moses wandering through a barren desert with the pressure of thousands of followers, my mind trekked down the images of this cropless story I want to write so bad, all day long, without putting down one decent sentence to prove my worth, on my day off, the days we supposedly live for and long for and hope for and strive for.
There’re ways to overcome writer's block I've been told. Reading will help. I like cross reading, nonfiction--Jon Meacham's pretty good I think and Harold Bloom is a great writer of literary analysis, books of poetry by Frank X. Walker and Matsuo Basho typically mesmerize my heart bound toward the tracks of inspiration, old poetry considered canon--Dante and Milton and Homer and clips of Shakespeare and the Bible, and interviews--the Paris Review has some good ones and so does Lit Hub and so does Belieiver Magazine. "On Becoming a Novelist" by John Gardner is something of a spiritual reading for the writer. Music is likely to inspire visions worth putting down but this is a theory and it works sometimes but it's not the Messiah of freedom from being unable to write. I believe David Lynch, in the 90's, was obsessed with the art of mediocre commercials and I too every so often will spend some time watching commercials I remember fulfilling something of my soul or mind or senses. Sometimes writing poetry for fun works and sometimes it does not. The same is true with trying to learn how to draw. Cigarettes, driving around for a half-hour-or-so without direction and multiple showers are always an option to strike up ideas and sentences in the mind's eye but they are in no means an approach to come down an absolute trail towards the Word.
In truth the decaying loss of creativity and productivity is like a shadow that rises each morning with the fire of the sun. Every day, every sentence is a struggle, as it were the stuff of suffering. If I've ever beaten or overcome the emptiness that is what is called Writer's Block, I can't remember the day I did. All I can say is that I know it awful well. I can't help you if you're way down there in the depths of it, but I can feel the pain of it that you endure. I’ve been there and am always there, as though I'm chained to it, a prisoner of words. I can't help you, but if you need a cigarette or to hear an inappropriate joke or a poem to read, well, at least I'm down there with you.
I was a well of words- overflowing with things to say.
but before my eyes the well dried
I had nothing to say
nothing to write
there are two ways I've found to get out of it
One: look outside, and find a piece that catches your eyes. Describe it, in as much detail as you can.
Two: listen to music. songs that make you feel, songs that make think.
I hope this helps!
No Such Thing?
I’ve seen the argument so many times. Writers block doesn’t exist. Do construction workers get builders block? Do professors get teachers block?
No, claim the naysayers. They don’t.
But, I’m not so sure. Maybe they just call it something different. If a construction worker injures themselves, they can’t work, because their job relies so much on physicality. We call that workplace injury, but it’s the same idea. The body’s broken, so they can’t do their job.
The mind can break, too.
There are ways of overcoming this. But like a physical injury, sometimes you just need time to heal. The trick is, figuring out when to rest, and when to push through.
So, an idea for the times you want to push through:
Find something, (like builder’s block), that people claim doesn’t exist. Find something that people say is impossible. Then think, well, what if it did exist? What if it was possible? Turn conventional wisdom on its head, and that might jumpstart creativity. Just one possible technique you might want to try, to get past writers block. ^_^
What to do when there’s no muse?
When to write when there’s no time?
Why to say when there’s no one?
Want to try but there’s no how?
What, what, what ...
In that case,
Rely upon yourself.
The inspiration you seek is right there on the other side of the mirror.
The time you need is amidst those long sleepless nights.
When there’s no one, scream it to the sky, you might just find anyhow you like better no reply,
When there’s no skill, just try.
Look to the left and the right.
Try, try, try.
This is the best I can give for now
The message now:
Everything you need is right where you are.
How do you think then
That this poem came to be -
It’s author, too, was stuck in blues.
Thoughts on Conquering Writer’s Block
Writer’s block has been an issue for as long as there have been writers alive to experience it. And I don’t think it will be going away anytime soon. It’s not the kind of thing to be rationalized away or rendered obsolete because we’re too cool and modern for it now.
If you’re a writer, you’re going to have to come to terms with the ugly face of your profession, the corroded flip side of the writing coin.
But I do believe there’s a way through it.
Here’s how I see writer’s block: It is real. Painfully, heart-attack real. I know that from personal experience, and not to bash anyone who disagrees, but I take issue with the perpetuation that writer’s block is not real, or that it’s all in your mind. Because sure, it may be in my mind, but just because something only exists in my mind does not mean that it isn’t real.
But there’s a catch. I believe that the very nature of writer’s block also provides the means of attacking and defeating this fell usurper of the mind.
Writer’s block may be real, but it’s only as real as you believe it to be.
And if that’s true, then is writer’s block merely an illusion, a shadow monster made of smoke and mirrors? If writer’s block is a mindset, then it can be overcome. Because mindsets can be changed. Not overnight or with a quick miracle-elixir fix—because as anyone knows, a mindset is rarely, if ever, altered in an instant—but like the gentle, gradual transformation of a rising sun, or a waxing moon.
My theory is yes, writer’s block is a mindset and, therefore, solvable, no matter how insurmountable it may seem in the moment. The solution lies in how we view it.
I think we often forget that our creativity lies within us. We don’t have to go out and find it. Sure, it helps a lot to get advice, training, and stimulation from outside sources, but you won’t find any product on the market claiming that if you ingest a pill or inhale a substance, it will provide you with six or eight solid hours of mental and literary creativity (and if you do, it’s a scam). Everything we need to succeed is innate, and if we truly believe that, we can do anything. What’s stopping us is that we’ve lost sight of the particular trigger that will unleash that flow of inspiration and creativity within us.
Creativity is not only something you have—it’s something you do. You might possess all the creative talent and ability there is, but without taking action, you won’t get anywhere.
Surprisingly (or maybe not-so-surprisingly?), I’ve found that one of the best ways for me to trigger a creative streak and relieve writer’s block is to simply start writing. It sounds kinda lame, but there it is. And it’s effective (usually).
Write anything that comes into your head. If nothing materializes, write one word. Even blindly, randomly, if that’s what it takes. Look out the window or around the room and start describing shapes and colors. Or try a conveniently useful Prose prompt (my current favorite). The point is to start; write something, anything. Then keep going. Write another word, and another after that. Amazingly, that’s often enough to break through whatever blockage is in my head and restore the flow to my writing, at least to some degree.
Very frequently, I’ve found that if I just start writing, even if I feel as dry as a beached whale in the moment, somehow the creative juices will begin to percolate, and voila! The block is gone.
And I think that’s because the few words I’ve written have triggered the part of my subconscious that flows with creative inspiration. I’ve figuratively unstopped the dam, unclogged the artery, unblocked the stream of energy through my mind.
So maybe the solution to writer’s block lies in changing your mindset instead of desperately trying to “be better” or muster up inspiration from wherever you can. (Or worse, just quitting. Which is not a solution to any problem.)
Inspiration can come in many ways, both internally and externally. It comes and goes. But your creativity is always with you. You already intuitively carry every bit of creativity that you need; now all you have to do is figure out how to tap into it. Okay, that sounds simpler than it is.
I don’t pretend to know exactly how you personally can tap into your reservoir of creativity, but maybe, just maybe, if you change your mindset from “I can’t do this” or “I don’t have what it takes” to “I need to figure out how I’m going to tap into this,” then that could be all you need to trigger your subconscious back into that state of flow.
Let me tell you: the struggle IS real. I completely get it; I’ve been there time after time.
But the good news is: it CAN be beat. You can smash through that writer’s block like it’s a brick wall and you’re the Hulk. And if anything I’ve learned and studied over the past couple of years is worth repeating, it’s that your mindset and beliefs are so powerful in effecting positive change in every area of your life, not the least of which is your writing.
If it feels impossible, like you just can’t write anything, take a breath and remember that that is a lie. The truth is that you have it in you, we all have it in us; you are creative and capable and inspired. You have an unending flow of words and experiences inside you that you are meant to share with the world. So defy the lie and do it. Don’t let that life-sucking excuse of writer’s block suck any more life from you.
Anyhow, I hope this post was in some way helpful to you. Now please excuse me while I go and take my own advice...
Make it Lit
When I was a teenager, I read a memoir called Lit by Mary Karr. I marked up the pages with pencil and took in her riveting account about alcoholism, her overcoming addiction. I sat by my uncle’s fireplace one Christmas at the tender age of seventeen and underlined almost every line. My cousin said, why are you writing in the book? My obsession with her tragedy had made me perhaps zealous; I needed to be at one with the text.
Mental illness has been my go-to writing topic for a long time. When I was still that seventeen year old girl, my life goal was to write a memoir. Flash forward ten years, and I started pouring my heart out on Prose. The abuse, the alcoholism of a parent. Funny that Mary Karr had gone through the same thing, only to win my respect for her and her experiences. But I loved her memoir of pain.
Pain. That’s what I need to write about. After about a hundred entries of mental illness tirades on Prose, I seemingly ran out of things to write about. My mental illness defines me, but is that boring? Once I’d written what I thought was everything I have to say about mental illness, what is left for me to write about?
The Prose weekly challenges have gotten interesting recently, more involved that when I first started writing for this site in April. They are my current outlet and inspiration. Finally, something not related to mental illness - to me and my pain. Finally, some practice at fiction.
But that’s where I hit writer’s block.
What is going to inspire? What is going to move people? It’s not enough to sit at my computer and rub my hands together and anticipate brilliance coming out of my fingertips.
I’ve raised the stakes for myself. It gets tricky to be inspired when all I’ve known is my memoir-ist writings. It’s fun to write fiction, and I want to do more of it. I just need to embrace the unknown, and perhaps learn dialogue - my weakness.
Perhaps I am only to be a memoirist, and that’s okay. But my writer’s block for fiction has become almost an inspiration to keep pushing through and write what I don’t know.
One night recently I wrote a piece for a Prose weekly challenge and got an editor’s mention. I remember having a glass of wine and going at it. It was so much fun - my racing thoughts seemed to seamlessly go through my fingertips and onto the keyboard. I laughed out loud through most of that writing process. I remember being so excited by what I had written that I was shaking when I’d finished.
So what’s the summary? Mental illness is what I know, but fiction is my goal and overcoming writer’s block is often tricky but something I can push through.
And my advice? Mark up with a pencil what inspires you to keep writing.
How to Beat Writers Block
This Challenge comes at a good time because I'm not persay had writers block today but I have simply felt very unmotivated and need reminding of how to motivate myself again and beat writers block when it reers it's ugly head again and hopefully my tips will help someone too...
1) Listen to music
Yes I know it's clique to say I use music to beat writers block but it works I love many different kinds of music but the kinds I like to listen to to help beat writers block the Star Wars soundtrack, the How To Train Your Dragon soundtrack the Witcher Soundtrack very random I know but they work.
2) Read a Book in the genre I'm writing in
Another clique I know but like the above it works it helps me to familiarise myself with good pacing, story structure and characters and character development and it allows my brain to relax so I can think straight.
3) I work on another writing project
I typically work on like three of four writing projects at once so when I'm having trouble with one I usually go onto another.
4) I Go Outside
I like to go outside and sit in the sun, go for a walk or a swim and clear my head and have a change of scenery.
5) I listen to a podcast
I especially love listening to book and true crime podcasts it gives me the chance to think about something else.
6) I watch movie trailers
I have no idea why this works but it does some trailers I like to watch are The Batman (2022) Dune (2020), The French Dispatch (2021) and some fan-made Skywalker saga trailers.
7) I re-watch favorioute movie scenes
I love re-watching my favorioute movie scenes the ending of Titanic, the ending of Return of The Jedi, the final battle of Avengers: Endgame and the end to Frozen 2.
8) I watch Authortube video's
Watching other's write and be productive encourages me to be creative and productive.