Wednesday, April 2, 2014

B is for Block: Writer's Block, and How to Cope

So, here's the thing: I'm having a terrible case of writer's block with respect to how to begin this post. Would you please be so kind as to assume I have already dazzled you with some sort of catchy opening?

You would?

Great! I knew I liked you.

Now that you're hooked, let's talk about writer's block. 

For several years, I worked as a marketing consultant for a firm I adored, and one of the coolest things about my job was coming up with creative ideas. There were times when I'd literally be tasked with being zany and creative, and these were my favorite times by far.

Except... being creative rarely ever happened while sitting around a meeting table. That was usually where the assignments were dished out, though. And generally, when being watched expectantly by several pair of eyes, my creative juices would run dry. "Let me think about it and get back to you," I would say.

That's what I'd say, but it's not exactly what I meant. What I really meant was, "Let me stop thinking about this so hard."

Because for me, the biggest creativity killer in the world is over thinking. Sure, there are times when I have to meticulously outline, plot, and analyze. And those things certainly have their place in the writing process. But once it's time to sit down and actually write, I do my best writing when I'm not writing at all.

If I've spent too much time in front of the keyboard debating over my next sentence, I know it's time to pack it up for the day and go do something else. When I'm busy doing something else, I typically find my mind wandering right back to my writing and lingering there. I become distracted by my writing, instead of being distracted from my writing, if that makes sense. By the time I get back to my story, the words have all but typed themselves.

We each have our own way of coping with writer's block, and the "do something else" method certainly won't work for everyone. But if you're looking for a reason to step away from the computer for a few hours, then I suppose this is as good as any.


  1. My cure for writer's block is to either talk it over with my SO, and if she's busy, I go for a walk. I think better when my legs are moving, though lately my brain wants to work on a hundred other creative writing projects than the one I'm actually working on at the moment.

    Nicky @

  2. Nicky, that's a keeper of a SO you have! My husband will sometimes spend entire dinner conversations talking with me about characters (what to name them, for example). I'm pretty sure that's true love.

  3. Your penultimate paragraph summed up what I'm like perfectly!


  4. Block. It happens to me when I'm in the middle of a time crunch. I try to leave Kentucky of room open, but it can't always be avoided. When it can't, I try music, pictures, movies, and a new book. You never know when inspiration will strike!

  5. Loved your opening! I, too, have to get up and walk away sometimes. I do some of my best writing in the garden or the shower. Unfortunately, everything sometimes pops into place in the middle of the night, and I can't get back to sleep until I get up and hit the keyboard for a while.

  6. Writing block has been knocking, no pounding on my door the last year. I have really been struggling with it. I walk away sometimes too. Like yesterday i went to the movies, and because I had to take the bus I had a bit of waiting time. I managed to scribble out some writing then. it was the best medicine for me. Thanks for the great post.

  7. hey there. i'm one of tina's minions. just checking in.

    i completely agree with you. i do my best work when it's ready for me rather than when i'm ready for it. a good example of this is: one day i spent nine hours at pappadeaux's bar, struggling with a scene and wrote maybe one page. another day, i was there for an hour and wrote five.

  8. Thanks for your great comments, everyone! Linda, I relate to yours especially. Just the other night I had to take "shower notes" - ha.