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Author Topic: Writer's block  (Read 2283 times)
RodDuncan
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« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2014, 06:21:22 pm »

A famous children's writer once told me that he did not believe in writer's block. "If my job was in a bank, I couldn't wake up one day and say I had work block."

But I have seen enough people getting blocked with their writing to think that it is a real psychological phenomenon.

I tend to think that there are two instincts living within each writer - the editor and the creative genius. If the creative genius is too strong, we write masses of words, uncritically. Much of which is rubbish. But if the editor is too strong, we are over-critical about everything we put down on the page up to the point where we are paralysed. Writer's block.

It would be lovely to have these two instincts in perfect balance, but some of us need to assign each instinct a different bit of time. First the creative genius. That means writing freely and joyfully without any analysis. That means concentrating on the quality of the process rather than the product. If the experience feels good, it is working.

Then, during a different writing session, preferably in a different room, get the editor to work finding things of value from what the creative genius produced. This session is about honing the product.

It also helps many people to schedule the writing sessions and to make them of limited duration. Half an hour five days a week is often more productive than two and a half hours at the weekend.

And if you are REALLY blocked - schedule shorter sessions and throw away everything you write after the session has finished. That drastic action is to prove to your unconscious mind that it is ALL about the process. After 10 days of that, most people are back in a state of balance.

Sorry to have rabbited on. Perhaps my inner editor needs to be strengthened!

Smiley



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CPT_J_Percell
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« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2014, 06:28:04 pm »

I've recently been given a version of this advice myself so I have resumed on a book I gave up on because my writing couldn't match my idea of it.

Also this quote attributed all sorts of places, "Great books aren't written, they are rewritten."  To which was added "Your favourite books are not the first versions that the author wrote."

Hope everybody has a lot to write in the future.


My book had a boost of inspiration after a member of the police pointed out that without witness's and adaquit defence my MC will be arrested and executed for a murder he didn't commit just because he was covered in her blood and carrying her dead body!

bit of a downer as it's the first in a series!
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Madasasteamfish
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09madasafish
« Reply #27 on: January 14, 2014, 07:57:06 pm »

I feel like I can offer a slightly different perspective.

There's no such thing as writer's block. I think creative lulls absolutely exist but feeling like you can't write because you have no ideas or you you're never quite in the mood or any of the various things grouped under 'writer's block' are, to put it gently, kind of bullshit. I didn't always hold this view.

I'm essentially writing in every spare moment, and write solidly from 4 pm to about 7 or 8 pm every day. I do this no matter my mood, no matter how uncreative I feel, no matter how few ideas I think I have. If you're working on a novel then you sit the f*** down and write like it's your job. Eventually, you learn how to deal with feelings of 'writer's block' and you get better at working through it. If you sit down and write something when you have writer's block and it's terrible then who cares? You still wrote a bunch and you can go back and change it. Shit, you can re-write the same page 50 times if that's how long it takes you. You know what won't get that page written? Sitting around and not writing because you have 'writer's block'.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to disagree with you (at least from my own experience) since the usual result of trying to plough through a case of writer's block (and just write something) simply makes things worse and inhibits me even more (the only times I've been able to work through it has seen me spend several hours forcing myself to produce a page or more of utter cr*p before I actually want to go on and which then sees me produce another page; of stuff I'm actually happy with, inside 20 minutes). And my experience of writing is more akin to the explanation offered by RodDuncan and often I'm too critical of myself (and my creative spirit is too flighty) to write something I know I'm going to have to go back and edit since I'm such a perfectionist, editing it to a standard where I'm happy with it will take me ten times longer than writing it, and particularly when I KNOW I can use the time I'd use editing it better, since if I'm writing because I want to, I can produce a HELL of a lot more stuff which is of a damn sight better quality.
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CPT_J_Percell
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« Reply #28 on: January 14, 2014, 07:59:57 pm »

I feel like I can offer a slightly different perspective.

There's no such thing as writer's block. I think creative lulls absolutely exist but feeling like you can't write because you have no ideas or you you're never quite in the mood or any of the various things grouped under 'writer's block' are, to put it gently, kind of bullshit. I didn't always hold this view.

I'm essentially writing in every spare moment, and write solidly from 4 pm to about 7 or 8 pm every day. I do this no matter my mood, no matter how uncreative I feel, no matter how few ideas I think I have. If you're working on a novel then you sit the f*** down and write like it's your job. Eventually, you learn how to deal with feelings of 'writer's block' and you get better at working through it. If you sit down and write something when you have writer's block and it's terrible then who cares? You still wrote a bunch and you can go back and change it. Shit, you can re-write the same page 50 times if that's how long it takes you. You know what won't get that page written? Sitting around and not writing because you have 'writer's block'.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to disagree with you (at least from my own experience) since the usual result of trying to plough through a case of writer's block (and just write something) simply makes things worse and inhibits me even more (the only times I've been able to work through it has seen me spend several hours forcing myself to produce a page or more of utter cr*p before I actually want to go on and which then sees me produce another page; of stuff I'm actually happy with, inside 20 minutes). And my experience of writing is more akin to the explanation offered by RodDuncan and often I'm too critical of myself (and my creative spirit is too flighty) to write something I know I'm going to have to go back and edit since I'm such a perfectionist, editing it to a standard where I'm happy with it will take me ten times longer than writing it, and particularly when I KNOW I can use the time I'd use editing it better, since if I'm writing because I want to, I can produce a HELL of a lot more stuff which is of a damn sight better quality.

Perhaps you should try the Nano approach to things. Turn off the editor and just write until you reach 50K. Save the file and put it away on a thumb drive.
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The Corsair
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PixieOnTheMic
« Reply #29 on: January 15, 2014, 01:32:18 am »

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to disagree with you (at least from my own experience) since the usual result of trying to plough through a case of writer's block (and just write something) simply makes things worse and inhibits me even more (the only times I've been able to work through it has seen me spend several hours forcing myself to produce a page or more of utter cr*p before I actually want to go on and which then sees me produce another page; of stuff I'm actually happy with, inside 20 minutes). And my experience of writing is more akin to the explanation offered by RodDuncan and often I'm too critical of myself (and my creative spirit is too flighty) to write something I know I'm going to have to go back and edit since I'm such a perfectionist, editing it to a standard where I'm happy with it will take me ten times longer than writing it, and particularly when I KNOW I can use the time I'd use editing it better, since if I'm writing because I want to, I can produce a HELL of a lot more stuff which is of a damn sight better quality.

I think you might be a basher. Do a bit of reading on Bashers vs Sweepers (in terms of how one goes about writing) to see if that description sort of fits you.

Then, get in touch with your inner Sweeper would be my advice. Sit down and write something separate, a mini-story over a page or two. Take some mediocre idea of yours and run with it, and I mean run. Turn off the editor for a bit. Again, you might write a page of crap but it's not a page you have to go back and re-write because it's not a part of your main project.

I was the other way round. I'm a sweeper through and through and making myself more methodical and critical for the sake of editing wasn't easy, but there are tricks to it. Sweepers struggle to edit, Bashers struggle to draft.
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« Reply #30 on: January 15, 2014, 02:41:58 am »

I thinking putting a label to anything is dangerous .. esp when it comes to yourself, so why not change what you think you are and become something else instead ?
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 02:44:43 am by 4_0_4 » Logged

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The Corsair
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PixieOnTheMic
« Reply #31 on: January 15, 2014, 03:37:57 am »

I thinking putting a label to anything is dangerous .. esp when it comes to yourself, so why not change what you think you are and become something else instead ?

Some people like labels, some don't. Some find it helps give them definition so they can be more self-aware, some don't.

I could go into further detail as to how your statement is unhelpful, but I don't want to have an argument on the theoreticals of defining one's habits and personality traits. This thread is to help Madasasteamfish get back in to the swing of things with his writing, so can we please keep the conversation along those lines.
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4_0_4
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Hi Forest , hows Fanny?


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« Reply #32 on: January 15, 2014, 05:44:17 am »


I'm not disagreeing with what you said , but at the same time I don't see the point in holding onto a belief pattern that no longer serves you ( much like you did by refusing to accept writers block as a reality )  ... there is more than one way to skin cat , if you can remember the cat was only description to start with ...



« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 05:51:29 am by 4_0_4 » Logged
4_0_4
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« Reply #33 on: January 15, 2014, 05:50:08 am »

I feel like I can offer a slightly different perspective.

There's no such thing as writer's block. I think creative lulls absolutely exist but feeling like you can't write because you have no ideas or you you're never quite in the mood or any of the various things grouped under 'writer's block' are, to put it gently, kind of bullshit. I didn't always hold this view.

I'm essentially writing in every spare moment, and write solidly from 4 pm to about 7 or 8 pm every day. I do this no matter my mood, no matter how uncreative I feel, no matter how few ideas I think I have. If you're working on a novel then you sit the f*** down and write like it's your job. Eventually, you learn how to deal with feelings of 'writer's block' and you get better at working through it. If you sit down and write something when you have writer's block and it's terrible then who cares? You still wrote a bunch and you can go back and change it. Shit, you can re-write the same page 50 times if that's how long it takes you. You know what won't get that page written? Sitting around and not writing because you have 'writer's block'.

So I guess to summarise, I act as though writer's block doesn't exist (though yes, sometimes it's almost impossible to write for various reasons) because otherwise it lets you off the hook somewhat. When you feel you have writer's block, sit down and write. Write the most terrible thing you've ever written. The difference between you and the unsuccessful author is when you had writer's block you wrote the worst passage in the world, when he had writer's block he wrote nothing.

I think thats good approach too , if anything to channel you frustration in some form - be it poetry or whatever form it takes..
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Witty Bard
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« Reply #34 on: February 10, 2014, 08:04:24 pm »

Dear Fellow Steampunks:  What an interesting question!  I would like to toss this question out into the void... Have you considered writing a short story when you were struck with writer's block?  Rather than completing the novel that seems to looming overhead, how about a short story? 
-Admiral Witty P. Bard
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WinterHaven
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« Reply #35 on: February 10, 2014, 09:18:15 pm »

Many years ago I read an article which said that all writers should begin with short stories to train on. They include all the things necessary in a novel except for the timeframe. It can be a useful exercise for experienced writers when stuck. 

I have to admit though, that my short stories usually start short, then a few things happen, the characters develop, a plot ensues, people start rampaging about and a novel tries very hard to be.

Every short I have ever written is sitting on a suitcase trying not to let the novel out.
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CPT_J_Percell
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« Reply #36 on: February 11, 2014, 07:19:47 am »

Many years ago I read an article which said that all writers should begin with short stories to train on. They include all the things necessary in a novel except for the timeframe. It can be a useful exercise for experienced writers when stuck. 

I have to admit though, that my short stories usually start short, then a few things happen, the characters develop, a plot ensues, people start rampaging about and a novel tries very hard to be.

Every short I have ever written is sitting on a suitcase trying not to let the novel out.

I wrote one at 7:30 in the morning on a coach ride!
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RodDuncan
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« Reply #37 on: February 11, 2014, 10:39:35 am »

I agree that writing short stories can help you develop many of the techniques you will need in writing novels. But it is worth noting that there are many novelists who find short stories difficult and many short story writers who can't get to grips with novel writing.

On the micro-scale the techniques of the two forms are much the same. Narrative voice, dialogue, description, active/passive etc.  But expand that out to the scale of whole scenes and you find differences connected with rhythm and the pattern of explanation or withholding of information from the reader. These differences may sound easy to allow for, but I have met many people who find it difficult to switch.

One of the commonly heard comments about short stories in critiquing sessions goes something like this: "I really liked it, but something isn't working. I think there's a novel in there trying to get out!"

Smiley
   
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WinterHaven
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« Reply #38 on: February 11, 2014, 10:17:31 pm »


One of the commonly heard comments about short stories in critiquing sessions goes something like this: "I really liked it, but something isn't working. I think there's a novel in there trying to get out!"

Smiley
   


Oh I utterly agree, but I think it can let out a certain idea and give you a shot at running with it just to see what will  happen. Sometimes it crashes, sometimes it works. Sometimes you get a novel.

One of the best things i ever wrote was a 50 word short. The limitations forced me to really think. It was a great push.
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Madasasteamfish
A clanger waiting to be dropped......
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09madasafish
« Reply #39 on: February 11, 2014, 11:29:21 pm »


One of the commonly heard comments about short stories in critiquing sessions goes something like this: "I really liked it, but something isn't working. I think there's a novel in there trying to get out!"

Smiley
   


Oh I utterly agree, but I think it can let out a certain idea and give you a shot at running with it just to see what will  happen. Sometimes it crashes, sometimes it works. Sometimes you get a novel.

One of the best things i ever wrote was a 50 word short. The limitations forced me to really think. It was a great push.

Oh GOD! I could never get anywhere with that, I could easily use 10 times that number of words to write a brief description of anything (I fear I belong to the Dickens and Hugo school of writing and have somewhat of a tendency to wax lyrical on almost every subject in my writing).
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RodDuncan
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« Reply #40 on: February 12, 2014, 10:39:37 am »

The one thing I am really definite about with my creative writing students is this: "There are no rules to writing!" That is one of the really exciting things about it. We each approach it in our own individual way. For some, a 50 word story. For others a great rambling epic. Long may it continue.

Right now, I'm putting together a course on plotting long fiction (novels and feature length screenplays) for after half term. Whilst the many systems people have put forward to describe and categorise story structure are remarkably similar, the approaches people use to actually create plot are hugely varied and quite individual. 

I find that reassuring. Smiley
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CPT_J_Percell
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« Reply #41 on: February 12, 2014, 06:13:48 pm »

The one thing I am really definite about with my creative writing students is this: "There are no rules to writing!" That is one of the really exciting things about it. We each approach it in our own individual way. For some, a 50 word story. For others a great rambling epic. Long may it continue.

Right now, I'm putting together a course on plotting long fiction (novels and feature length screenplays) for after half term. Whilst the many systems people have put forward to describe and categorise story structure are remarkably similar, the approaches people use to actually create plot are hugely varied and quite individual. 

I find that reassuring. Smiley

I "Pants" the first drafts or my trilogy but now I'm editing them I use scapple to mind map each paragraph.
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Witty Bard
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« Reply #42 on: February 13, 2014, 04:14:51 pm »

Thank you all for considering my question!  Your conversation has inspired a new topic: "Novelists versus Short Story Writers."  Check out the proposed discussion in the Textual Forum Listing.
-Admiral Witty P. Bard
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Rory B Esq BSc
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« Reply #43 on: May 02, 2014, 07:01:17 pm »

When the gears of inspiration dry up a suitable lubrication may help, especially if used in the company of a few friends. Don't overdo it because you need to be able to read those scribbled notes later, but bouncing ideas around, articulating them can do wonders. You hear how they sound and get some feedback, I owe my B.Sc to the time spent in the coffee bars and bars at University more than to time in the library and lectures so I know it works.

And as others have said, just let it flow, do a first draft then when that's done go through and tidy it up. Print it off and make the alterations on that, then when it's better type them in. I mostly paint and might work through a dozen sketches of an idea before I put a canvas on an easel to paint something to sell.
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pakled05
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« Reply #44 on: May 03, 2014, 03:16:09 am »

As someone who has written far more short stories than novels (actually, I call mine 'long stories,' novels are something that could be taught in English class, have multiple layers of meanings, follow most of the rules and...), I'm actually running into the opposite of writer's block, the run-on novel...Wink

Somehow I keep adding scenes to the thing, and far too much exposition. It's up to nearly 150k words, hopefully I can take a bush hook to it later...Wink

For something as individual as a craft, there are going to be individual solutions. What works for you may not work for the rest of us. But by now you've likely found something that works.

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1so-static
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« Reply #45 on: May 03, 2014, 02:06:28 pm »

I have the cure to writers block ...Wine and a lump of cheddar, sat under a tree until you pass out ...
works wonders.

« Last Edit: May 03, 2014, 02:33:43 pm by 1so-static » Logged

RodDuncan
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« Reply #46 on: May 05, 2014, 05:39:35 pm »

A lovely picture

I can imagine  sitting under that tree and being inspired with wonderful story ideas. Smiley

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whistlelock
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whlock
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« Reply #47 on: June 24, 2014, 01:39:31 am »


My advice?  Just write the scene.  It will be ugly.  Perfunctory.  Lack grace. It will be terrible!  But that's okay.  Fight your way through the ugly, get to the other side and finish the danged thing. 

And then the key is to go back and re-write.  Because it's far far easier to fix a broken page than it is to write a golden page.  You already know how you don't want it.  Once you start fixing that, the words will flow. 

Now go finish it already.

Having been once more afflicted by the curse of every writer, and finding my usual solution failing to illicit the desired effect, I thought I'd start a thread here to see if I could find a solution from amongst the other members of this great and glorious forum, and (hopefully) in the process potentially aid other affectees of this most dangerous condition.
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Prof Marvel
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« Reply #48 on: June 24, 2014, 05:52:47 am »

Having been once more afflicted by the curse of every writer, and finding my usual solution failing to illicit the desired effect, I thought I'd start a thread here to see if I could find a solution from amongst the other members of this great and glorious forum, and (hopefully) in the process potentially aid other affectees of this most dangerous condition.

mushrooms.. if you get lucky you will never be short of words again

4-4

If your not lucky, you may never come back.
but will you know?
will you care?

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« Reply #49 on: June 24, 2014, 04:59:41 pm »

Nice pic, always wondered what was on the other side of the Microsoft splash screen...Wink
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