Friday, July 12, 2013

Dishing on Writer's Block

Before I talk about the subject of this post, I want to say this quickly. I'm sorry for all of the changes that have been taking place with the look of the blog, but I have finally settled on a look that I'm going to keep for quite a while (no...really, I have). I was getting some kind but negative feedback on the look I had a few days ago, so I took the suggestions of someone (thanks, Elizabeth!) and added some character to the blog. I'm going to redo the poll off to the right so you can vote on this new, official look. (And unless everyone comes back saying they HATE it, sorry folks...I'm still going to keep this look for a while. ;) ) So please vote, and let's get on with the real stuff!


After a scrumptious (I don't care what anyone says, I still love this word: hoorah for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, y'all!) dinner this evening, I began to wash the dishes so my mom could go and rest. I got everything loaded into the dishwasher and was about to start the hand washing, I had been loading those first dishes, my mind was racing. I developed several new ideas for quick scenes in my WIP, so before I finished the chore I ran into the other room to grab some paper and get those thoughts down before I forgot them. Next thing I knew, my mom was in the kitchen, finishing up the dishes (don't worry, I quickly ran in and stopped her, explaining the situation ;) ).

If you know me, you know I hate housework. Sweeping and laundry are at the top of the loathing list, and I thought I would end up putting dishes on that list because I have some weak back issues which makes standing like that for a length of time hard. However, if there was one chore I could choose from a long list, it would be to do the dishes. Something about it is so vague and mind-numbing that it actually turns the wheels in my head. I've discovered some of my best story ideas through this chore. Good way to get the housework done, eh?

Everyone struggles with writer's block. The best writers out there struggle. What are some ways we can avoid this?

1) Find something that helps you calm down and think (for example, the dishes). Sometimes you press your mind to think, think, think until your stuffing falls out, and your brain is screaming OVERLOAD! My brain does not handle overload well at all, so there are times I just have to back off and forget about the whole situation. Often times the ideas, the ones that will make the book, end up just popping into my head later on in the day. Don't think of it as slowing you down by adding time into not writing; you're still doing something that is highly beneficial to your brain. Your readers will know when you are forcing it.

2) Music. Some people can listen to music while writing, some people are annoyed by even the faintest ticking of a clock. For me, it depends entirely on the music. If I know the song well, I can listen to one with lyrics, because then I just sort of tune it out and let the style override. Other times, it has to be purely instrumental. Other times...I have to take those earbuds out and have silence and hope no one calls me to take the dog out.

However, I would caution you with music. When I first started writing, I would find songs on my then-cd player that fit the mood of the scene I was writing. In the next scene, I would pause in writing and find another song that might fit the mood. Sometimes I would break in the middle of a scene just because the song wasn't working with it. Not good, people. When you're in the zone, you shouldn't let anything break that if you can. Stopping my creativity for the sake of finding a song slowed me down and damaged the writing I was doing.

Here's what I recommend: I have iTunes, and I've made a "Writing Playlist" full of various genres of songs I know I'll love listening to while writing, and I'll play that while I write. That way you know you feel comfortable with each song. Does this mean you can't ever skip around? Of course not. A song may come up that distracts you from your writing (say a peppy song while you're in the midst of a death scene - horror), and you can just quickly hit the mute button and not break your stride. Or, as you're writing, you may come across a scene and a song immediately pops into your head that you think would help you write it. If the song is easily and quickly accessible, go ahead and play it! It really depends on what works for you at that crucial moment.

3) Not Worrying. Worrying you've got the grammar wrong. Wondering if you've got the right word for that particular description. Worrying that someone isn't going to like what you are saying. These thoughts can even evade subconsciously and can all lead to MWB, or Major Writer's Block as I "affectionately" call it. You just have to learn to push those thoughts out of the way completely before you even sit down to write. Determine that you will not think of anything negative as you write and that you'll sweat the small stuff (grammar, the exact right words) later. This will just come with practice and training, but if you work on it, I think I could promise that it would at least improve for you.

4) Opinions. Opinions? You mean like someone reading my work? Never!
Okay, slow down and just think about it. If you let someone read your work, they could give you wonderful opinions and suggestions. You just have to make sure the person you let read your book, whether it be a parent, cousin, or best friend, is someone you fully trust and work well with. They don't have to have the exact same taste as you, but they should be knowledgeable in the area you are writing. I let my best friend read most of my writing, and it's been a blessing. She's kept me going, and though she isn't familiar with the fantasy genre I'm working in right now, she has still been able to point things out to me that have helped. One time she started thinking out loud about what she thought might come later in the book, and it sparked an idea for me to include in my story. So don't throw the notion out right away, but consider it first.

What do you do to conquer writer's block?


  1. This is beautiful! :)
    I admit I really didn't like the other layout, because it looked very plain and, well…impersonal. But this, this is lovely.

    Your tips for writer's block are great ones. What you said about music mirrors my opinions entirely--I have a writing playlist, as well, and can only listen to songs I know well enough to tune out, or I have to put something instrumental on.

    When I'm faced with writer's block, I tend to go back to my roots, and read my favourite books within my genre. A wave of inspiration soon follows, and I remember why it is I love writing so much. I'll also draw, or doodle scenes from my novel.

    1. Thank you for the compliment on the blog's look, Justine! It took me a while to make so I'm glad the end result is good. I was previously trying to go for a cleaner look, I guess you could call it, but that's just really not my style or an attractive one ;)

      Glad you liked the tips. Everyone is different so it's experimental, but I like to share what helps me in order to see if others like you agree or if it can help someone else also starting out.

      Those are great ideas! When I was writing historical fiction a year ago, I was in the midst of reading a few of my favorite books in the same genre. It certainly does help with inspiration.