On Writer’s Block

Guest post by Raven Bower

Writer’s block – the words that strikes dread into the hearts of aspiring authors. It’s also among the top five topics people ask about when they discover that I’m an author and some are shocked at my reply.

Writer’s block doesn’t exist.

That’s right – it’s just as fictitious as clouds made of cotton candy.

As a professional author, there’s no time for such flights of fancy. When deadlines are due, they are due. As with any other career, if you cease to produce you don’t get paid. If your plan is to become a published, professional author, your best bet is to toss the myth of writer’s block into the trash bin.

There are many reasons why a story doesn’t move forward. In order to fix the problem it’s vastly more productive to diagnose the problem and apply an appropriate remedy than it is to whine and moan about some made-up condition.

Beginning a new story is difficult. The first three chapters are a notorious pain in the rear and many writers – professional or not – wrestle with these beasts more than any other portion of the book. This is completely natural and the only way through it is to write and keep on writing, even if you don’t like what you’re typing. There’s nothing you can mess up in the first draft that isn’t fixable in revisions and there will be revisions a plenty!

Once you get going, don’t make your job more difficult than it needs to be. Instead of ending your day’s work at the end of a scene – thus staring at the awful white screen in the morning – stop in the middle of a scene, or better yet, in the middle of conflict, action or dialog. That way, after you’ve written the first page, you’ll never see a totally white screen and wonder what to write on it.

Write what you love. Write only the stories that burn within you – no matter how hot (or not) that genre is at the time. Trends are fickle and what editors are snapping up today they’ll leave in the dust tomorrow.

Writing is emotional, if you’ve been hit by an emotionally disturbing event allow yourself time heal. You’re not blocked, you’re upset or in mourning. Take time off to recoup and then get back on the ball.

Writing is mentally exhausting, take breaks. When my brain feels like goo and I fear it’ll run out my ears, I get away from my desk and do something to refresh. Walk in the garden, do the dishes or laundry. Whatever you decide to do make sure it’s relaxing, relatively brainless and not distracting like, say, chatting on the phone.

Tried all that and the story still isn’t flowing?

Then it’s likely a flaw in the writing itself. Authors are mostly human (I wonder sometimes…) and we all err. Stuff writerly pride into a sealed container and deep six it. Hopefully, it implodes somewhere in the depths.

After that take out your story and figure out where it went wrong.

I find it helpful to ask a series of questions:

1. Is this story ready? Or does it need more time to simmer?

2. Do I know my characters enough?

3. Am I intruding on the story by forcing the plot or character(s) in a direction that isn’t natural?

4. Does the story suffer from a breakdown of cause and effect? Is each cause clear? Is each effect a logical progression of the story?

5. Is it lacking conflict? Where can I make more chaos, suffering and general malcontent amongst my story folk?

6. Am I using the right cast? Is my protagonist pro-active?

When you are stuck, objectively study your story and assess it for flaws before assuming the cause is some uncontrollable mental glitch. Find the nits, eradicate them and soon you’ll be typing your heart out on your manuscript.

Before you know it – you’ll be typing ‘The End’

With three book releases scheduled this year, and two film scripts in pre-production, urban suspense/fantasy novelist Raven Bower knows a thing or two about fighting past the blank page syndrome. You can find her newest release, 
“>Primal
, at bookstores now.

Free images from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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3 Comments on "On Writer’s Block"

  1. Thanks for having me here today 🙂

    [Reply]

    Cherie Reply:

    Thanks for being here and writing a valuable post.

    [Reply]

  2. I completely agree that “writer’s block” doesn’t exist. It exists as much as “accountant’s block” or “runner’s block.” If you don’t feel like jogging, it’s probably because you’re tired, discouraged by your limits, afraid of the pain, or just plain lazy. The same holds for writing.

    I like the questions at the end to help figure out what went wrong. I would add one more though: “Did I stray from my original vision? Is this what I wanted to write in the first place?” Usually, when I find that I don’t want to work on a particular story, it’s because I’ve written myself into a corner somewhere and lost my grip of what I meant to say.

    [Reply]

  3. Very true T.K. Thanks 🙂

    [Reply]

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