Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Writer's Block: Fact or Fiction

Someone on Twitter asked for ideas for a guest blog post, and I mentioned 'the myth of writer's block'. I realized I'd not updated my blog in a few days (sorry all, I've been busy with my WIPs), so I decided to address the same issue myself.

I don't believe writer's block exists. Sorry. I do believe people can succumb to things like stress, fear of rejection, or perhaps just an absence of a good story idea and find themselves unable to write, but I don't believe it's a writer's block.

In my opinion, the trick to keeping the word machine in your head producing words is to write every day. Even when you don't want to. Even when you really don't want to. The words don't have to be brilliant. They should make a modicum of sense, but they don't have to end up anywhere except your trash can or your Recycle Bin.

The trick is just to keep producing the words. You can set a daily word count limit or a specific time allotment, but you have to write something. When my fiction seems at a standstill, I write poetry. Tons of it. Some good, some rubbish. It doesn't matter. At the end of the day, they're words. Sometimes I start short stories I've no intention of ever finishing. I keep them, though, all of them because I never know when I might want to revisit them (even if I'm only stealing a cool line or two for something else). Dialogue is another good one. Just take two people (or three if you are so inclined) and have them talk about anything at all. The neighbor's dog who barks too much, the weird kid who lives at the end of the street, the funny noise they heard last night. The 'what' isn't important. It's the 'what you're doing' that is. It's the equivalent of putting your muse on the treadmill. At first, she might gripe and groan, but then she'll get into a grove and keep pushing on.

This write something every day never fails for me. In the midst of the word-rush, good ones start to emerge. Ideas flow in, characters take shape and boom! It's neither magic nor science. Just logic.

After all, if you want to be a writer, you have to write.

16 comments:

Tina Lynn said...

I needed this right now. Really needed it. You are a godsend.

Jon Paul said...

Damien--Great post. I think you're onto something.

I'm including this one in my Friday Link Love post. Thanks for the great material.

J. Koyanagi said...

I completely agree. "Block" happens for a reason. If your mind has erected a brick wall, then become the wrecking ball.

C R Ward said...

I don't believe in writer's block either. Some days the writing doesn't come as easily as other days, and those are the days you have to take it just one word at a time.

PJ Ray said...

I agree with you about writer's block. I've never felt I couldn't write anything, but I frequently dislike what I write.

The thing is - you have to purge your system of junk to for the good stuff to flow again. If you choose not to write, the junk just sits there and festers and gets harder to flush out. That's why I do a free flow five minute warm up, where all I do is write anything that pops in my head - no plot to it - just whatever. A lot of times what comes out triggers a project, but sometimes it is just a diary moment or nonsensical garbage, but it clears my head and gets that writing muscle fired up and then I can focus.

Good post, Damien.

Damien Walters Grintalis said...

Thank you all for your comments; I appreciate them. Tina, I'm glad it helped you out. J.Koyanagi, I love that "become the wrecking ball"!

I'm going to do my best to post more about 'writerly' topics going forward, not just about 'me-me-me'. :)

Damien Walters Grintalis said...

Jon Paul, thank you very much for adding this to your Friday Link Love post.

slcboston said...

I have writer's legos... is that close?

seriously though, this was a great post. I liked the bit about writing dialogue or poetry or *something* if you get stuck. I also have a folder full of unfinished - for now - short stories myself.

Jon Paul said...

Hey! Bonus! Thanks for the follow too!

:D

dirtywhitecandy said...

Great post. When the page is empty, it's empty. When you've got something on it, no matter what it is, you can edit it - there's nothing like writing something wrong to realise what the right thing would be. I'm off to tweet

Claire Dawn said...

agreed. Cuz when you stop, it's like pushing a train when you're trying to get back in motion!

Laura said...

I'm glad that Jon showed me the way to your blog.
You have an excellent post here, Damien; I totally agree with what you say.
The writing "muscle" must "flexed" everyday. It's the only way to stay in a great writing shape.

I, too, don't believe in the "block" thing. The reasons why I sometimes stop writing are related to outside factors (life) and not because I lack creativity.
Writers have tremendous imagination, their brain is working constantly . I don't see that coming to a halt. Ever.

Shadow said...

I completely agree with you.

Sometimes it is a blog entry, a column for the paper, some random scenes, but I do write some every day. I even have a notebook by the bed so that when that idea hits right before you sleep (or while you sleep) I can at least write it down.

Jamie said...

I agree. Sometimes I really don't feel like writing, but lack of inspiration doesn't mean an all out road block. It's like running. Sometimes I don't feel like it, but go ahead and lace up my shoes and get 6 miles in. I always feel better afterwards. Same with writing ~ though don't need a shower afterwards. Usually.

Matt said...

I'm pretty bad about writing every day. As in, I'm really good at not writing every day. This post finally hit it for me. Thanks for the advice.

Damien Walters Grintalis said...

Thank you everyone for reading and for your comments. I've met more writers who don't believe in writer's block than those who do. It makes me wonder where this whole writer's block myth comes from. Someone late on a deadline desperate for an excuse? Someone pretending to be a writer, using writer's block as the reason for not actually producing anything? Or perhaps someone so afraid of rejection, their mind shuts down the minute they sit down to write, so they blame it on a block and not fear? Ah well, in the end, it really doesn't matter.

 

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