Blocking A Writer

Writer's Block MugSo this weeks Blogenning theme is writer’s block. FYI – I’ve been very busy as of late, packing, so I’m cutting down to 3 posts a week (you’ll get the third for this week tomorrow, sorry). And tomorrow’s post will be on why I’m packing, promise.

So – writer’s block. That dreaded curse. That infamous whore. That.. well, you get the idea. Writer’s block sucks. The closest “real job” comparison I can make is going to work at a desk job, getting there, and your desktop won’t boot. Nothing you try makes it turn on and work. So you’re stuck all day trying to fix it, or doing random bullshit till it starts working. And when writing is how you make your living, it’s even worse.

Kas pointed out in her post that writer’s block is a little more difficult to get when you write nonfiction. As a freelancer I haven’t gotten writer’s block at all. Occasionally I sit at a sentence trying to figure out the best way to convey the information I want to with it, but that’s different. That’s more akin to trying to pick between Chinese and Indian for lunch. I know what I want, I just haven’t decided how to achieve the goal, but I know I’m going to decide shortly. No, writer’s block really strikes when you write fiction. It can really fuck up your day…

A perfect example of this is NaNoWriMo. For the last three years I have joined in and attempted to write a novel during the month of November. Not too horrendous a feat I thought… I can handle this. I failed miserably all three years. The first year I got about a thousand words written, maybe. Great start, but then I just got stuck and didn’t know where to go with the story. And suddenly it was December. Cue in 2009. I was smart and planned out my novel in October, figured out the basic story and characters. And then a week into November I was “too busy” and never got any further than the first chapter again. Utter failure. To be fair I had just started a new job… but still.

And then there was last year – my best attempt. I cheated a little and used a story I had already started writing. I had about a thousand words written and decided I would just start from there and keep going. I already knew where the story was going… and it worked really well. I got a little under five thousand words written. Then Call of Duty: Black Ops came out… whoops. Bye November… Obviously I haven’t had much luck with NaNoWriMo. But this year… ah this year.

This year I have a plan. It’s almost entirely me-proof. I don’t see how I can muck it up this year. No games are coming out I “have” to have. Nothing is going on in my personal life to halt my progress. My only worry is that damnedable writer’s block. She’s evil… and she’s out to get me… nay all writers. I tell you… we should have a witch hunt… if writer’s block was a real thing. But you see, it’s all in your head. Many writers can recognize this… but it’s still a difficult beast to overcome.

A little while ago someone on Google+ posted a thing from Ira Glass about “The Gap.” Brandon also mentioned this recently. The Gap is very similar to writer’s block, but different in an important way. The Gap is more along the lines of quitting because you think you suck. And the Ira Glass piece is basically a kick in the pants “you don’t suck, get back to work son, there’s writing to be done!” It’s nice. And it’s also currently printed out and hanging next to my monitor to remind me that even if this story sucks, I can learn from it and make the next one better. Because sometimes we all need a little inspiration, right?

Writer's Block

Sometimes you just want to smash something...

So while I don’t have any tips and tricks to help you overcome writer’s block… I do have advice. Don’t let it stop you. If you get stuck, either press on, or try something else and come back later. I know that 90% of the time when I get stuck it’s because I can’t figure out how to make the next part awesome… and if there is ONE piece of advice every NaNo-writer will tell you it’s, “don’t worry if it’s awesome, just write. You can make it awesome later.” So don’t worry… you can always fix something that’s broken, but if you have nothing to fix… you get nowhere.

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About Ian E. Muller


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