Some of the Forms of Writer’s Block and How to Get Over It

Welcome Stephanie Campbell to the blog today! She has some good advice that all writers can use…

You are sitting at your computer, typing away. The scene is coming along great. You feel your blood burning as the words pours out of you and then, “Wham!” it happens. You can’t think of what next to write. It’s like you ran straight into a brick wall going two hundred miles per hour. You’re gasping for air, scrambling to find the momentum that you just lost, but the creative air has been pushed from your lungs.

That is something I would like to call writer’s block. It comes in many forms, in many ways, but it doesn’t matter how it hits you—for a writer, it’s a kick in the gut. The lucky part is, though, that there are ways to overcome writer’s block, which every writer should be familiar with. After all, if it hasn’t happened to you, it will. Cue the sinister laughing.
1) You’ve hit a scene that you can just NOT finish. 

Do not despair. Go back over your work and see what you’ve done so far. Read through it. See if you can gain that excited momentum that you just had. If not, this could be a sign of Writer’s Burnout. 

2) You can’t come up with ideas. 

This one can be fun to fix. At least, for me. I am the creepy girl who sits in the backs of movie theaters and doesn’t watch the movie—I watch the person sitting next to me. It’s a good thing I’m too small to appear threatening, or else I would have gotten beaten up by now.

Now, I’m not telling you to be a creeper like me. I’m saying examine people’s lives. Put yourself in somebody elses shoes. Also, have fun with it. Do writer’s exercises. Invent some ridiculous main character. Imagine killing your enemy and write down every little detail…No, just kidding. I did tell you that I was a creeper, didn’t I?

And if all else fails, watch Lord of the Rings, just because it’s that awesome. 

3) You have too many ideas.

I have this one. A lot. I work on all ideas at one time, and yes, it’s nearly killed me. There are ways, however, to fix it. 

List your ideas so that way you don’t lose them. Write the first page of each of the ideas. See which ones get you REALLY, REALLY excited. As in, pick the one that makes you want to wet your pants. 

And I hate to say this, but also pick the one with market potential…Yeah, I said it. But a cool idea is still a cool idea, and the truth is, you want your work to reach people, right? I mean, you may write an adult story about a talking spud name Stanley, but that won’t work, no matter how fascinating you find it.

4) You are afraid that people won’t like your story.

I think that this happens to a lot of writers. It’s happened to me. All writers will experience rejection and bad reviews, and they WILL NOT BE PRETTY! They will hurt. A lot. People will tell you that “it’s just one person that you don’t even know.” But it won’t make the pain go away. It’s a person that dislikes your book.

So how do you convince yourself that it’s worth it? You pour hours and hours into your work, filling it with your heart and soul. You don’t want to endure that pain.

I think that the best method to overcome this is to focus on the positive. Look at the people who have liked what you’ve written before, even if it is just a short story. And if you’ve never shown someone, find a positive beta reader. I know that some may take this as bad advice, but before you start crushing your own hopes and dreams during self-edits, you have to have the self-confidence to get your work done. Finding the perpetual Pollyanna always helps me.

For me, this type of writer’s block often comes with Writer’s Rage.

Glossary of Terms

Note of Warning: These are what I call specific problems. They are only universally embraced inside my brain, which is a scary and twisted place. You have been warned.

Writer’s Burnout: Ever been walking around and have your I-pod run out of batteries? Writers are a lot like I-Pods. If you don’t give us fun time to rest and re-charge, we’re going to run out of energy—and ideas. 

Writer’s Rage: That moment when you sit down and, instead of working on your manuscript, you get the convulsive urge to throw your laptop out your office window. Too angry to continue, you will then skulk off to take your rage out on your pet goldfish, Tuttle.

Got more questions about writing or about me? Feel free to contact me at specimen x (at) hotmail (dot) com. I answer all questions, but let me warn you in advance—I only date men that look like Johnny Depp. All other suitors need not apply. 

Please keep your eyes open for my new releases coming out this summer, Case Closed and Keeping Freedom

Find Stephanie on Facebook

  1. Stephanie, thanks so much for sharing your tips. I like the people watching one! I’ve always been an observer of people, and I do think it helps with writing and ideas.

  2. sharonledwith

    Shared and tweeted for you! Great post, Stephanie! Cheers!

  3. When I get stuck it’s usually in the middle. The two many ideas problem. I will try your solution. Thanks for the tip!

  4. Lol! Great post. I love your glossary of terms! 🙂

  5. Stephen King famously got stuck in the middle of writing “The Stand” – from “On Writing”:

    ” I liked my story. I liked my characters. And still there came a point when I couldn’t write any longer because I didn’t know what to write. Like Pilgrim in John Bunyan’s epic, I had come to a place where the straight way was lost. I wasn’t the first writer to discover this awful place, and I’m a long way from being the last; this is the land of writer’s block.”

    And he discovered that a whopper of a mid-book crisis “blew up” most of his writer’s block along with half of his characters 🙂

    I highly recommend “On Writing,” by the way.

    King explains that when he came to that place in “The Stand” where he couldn’t continue, he intuited that the story wasn’t irredeemable but he needed to understand *why* he couldn’t go any further – yet. And he came to understand the theme of what he had been writing about, something he had been doing only on a subconscious level – that of technology and its role and hold on humanity. Once he came to understand his theme, he was able to know how to press on and strengthen the hard lessons his characters had to learn.

    He also admits when his epiphany happened, he rushed home and spent awhile jotting the whole thing down – lest he lose it – and spent a couple more days rolling it around in his mind until he was certain there were no holes in what he was thinking. Interestingly, King says this was pretty much the only time he’s ever jotted down story-and-plot-notes.

    Personally, I jot them down whenever they occur to me – not necessarily to read later. But I’ve always found that simply the act of writing something down tends to embed it more deeply into my thoughts and memories.

    • I love ‘On Writing.’ I jot ideas down whenever I get them, too, or save them in my ideas file or jot them into the story. I have to admit, the only writer’s block I seem to suffer from is during extreme sorrow in life (that has happened once where I didn’t feel I could write for weeks). Otherwise, I get story block, as in, I realize I really want to be working on another story. I only let myself do that if I’m a thousand or so words into the current story. Otherwise, I grit my teeth and soldier through it. I used to write multiple stories at a time, but not anymore.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: