…….: Writer’s Block

“Help me, Obi-wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” – Star Wars

A blank wall. A roadblock. A giant unexpected cliff. A fuzzy mass of non-words spewed across white. In my mind, writer’s block has been known to take those various images. A lack of inspiration? A sudden character conundrum? The realization that the plot is now mired in incomprehensibility and currently makes no sense? A subconscious lecture from my mind that it wants to do something else? Whatever it is, writer’s block is always an irritating inconvenience.

I have fortunately never experienced a moment in which I have no idea where the story is going as a whole. However, the I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-this-scene-and-I-can’t cut-it-out block is my personal boggart. I like the previous scene. I know what I want with the next scene. But this scene…guuuuhhhh…

I have three ways that I usually combat this sort of block:
1) I slog through it. It usually feels like I’m dragging seventy bags of rocks across a muddy field, and the prose looks like I cut it out of the newspaper with a knife, but there is something there. I can always go back and clean it up when I’ve gotten over my block for this scene.
2) I skip it, and move on to the next scene. I don’t really recommend doing this, as I have found that I forget that I skipped it, and upon reviewing my work, I wonder what on earth happened with the pacing or give myself a heart attack thinking I lost a portion of my manuscript to the grave of technical doom. (oh, wait, I didn’t not save, I just didn’t write it! Stupid me!).
3) I give in and just don’t write. I feel like France during a world war when I do that, but sometimes walking away is the only option. The challenge is to get writing again as soon as you feel even the slightest bit better. Maybe write something else for an hour or so.

There is one other block that I have faced that nearly defeated me. This one is worse that the I-don’t-know block; it is far more sly and sinister. It is the I’m-nearly-done-so-let’s-take-a-break! block. WATCH OUT! When writing Universe of the Soul, I had finally reached a pivotal part of the plot, a scene that had been brewing in my mind for years. When finishing that chapter, I KNEW I was nearly done with the story. I was so happy to have written that scene, and so pleased that I was almost complete with the rest of the story that I decided to take a short break from writing. By the time I realized what was going on, it was six months later. And you know what? That nearly-finished-with-the-story chapter actually ended up being the halfway point. I still had about fifteen chapters of the story left!

There are a lot of ways to break through writer’s block. I once read that one author’s way of getting around a block was to repeatedly type “Help me Obi-wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope,” and another author writes, “I don’t know what to write,” over and over until a new sentence forms. What are your ways of skirting around writer’s block?

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. nkeda14
    Mar 30, 2011 @ 20:41:25

    LOL I literally JUST did a post on this yesterday! I repeat my “mantra” as I call it over and over.

    “Dont get it Right, get it Written!”

    I you’d like to read that post take a look at my blog :D.

    Nice post with some good info!


  2. Jennifer Mandelas
    Apr 01, 2011 @ 17:23:15

    You know what they say about great minds….


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