Wednesday, December 8, 2010

About that Writer's Block...

You're stuck on a story, not sure what to type next...is it another case of the dreaded "writer's block?"

If you enter the words "writer's block" on Amazon, it comes back with 337 results. I'm kind of shocked that 337 books could be written on the topic! Try it on Google and you'll get more than three million articles.

That's a lot of writing...about people who can't write.

But is it truly a writerly condition? Or is it just your brain working out different possibilities for the story? Or maybe it's the writer's faithful friend: self-doubt?

The definition of writer's block, according to dictionary.com, is:
a usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of a novel, play, or other work.
The term first came into use between 1945–1950. I'm not sure if that means writer's before 1945 didn't get blocked, or they just didn't have a name for the "condition."

I've gotten bored with stories and abandoned them. There have been times where I wasn't sure which rabbit hole my characters should go down. Self-doubt has kept me from writing on far too many occasions. Still other times I had vague ideas that I couldn't quite put into words until my subconscious worked it out for me. But I've never considered myself blocked.

What about you? Have you experienced writer's block?

23 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I've never had writer's block. Maybe 'writer's temporarily on a break because she's distracted by something else' . . . but never true writer's block.

Seriously? There's 337 books about the subject. That's crazy.

Candyland said...

All. The. Time. And for me, there is no one cure to get past it. Just time and patience.

Kristan said...

Ditto what Stina said (break vs. block).

Also, lol: "That's a lot of writing...about people who can't write."

Kelly said...

I have had a little bit of writer's block, but I find if I just force myself to write the scene I'm stuck on, it does come to me.
Sometimes I have too many ideas and not enough time!

Corey Schwartz said...

I always think of writer's block as the inability to begin something new... that happens to me a lot. I finish a PB manuscript, and I can't come up with something to work on next. Once I am in the midst of a project, I have never considered myself "blocked"

Angela Felsted said...

I think it's more a self-doubt issue. At least, for me it is.

Tess said...

I agree self doubt really hampers my writing at times....

but I do think it is still "real". Not insurmountable and often overcome by pushing through and writing anyway...but still real.

Laurel Garver said...

Like others have said, I think self-doubt is the reality that gets called "block."

Melissa Gill said...

I've never had true writer's block. Sometimes I have to set something aside for a while. I can imagine myself having writers block if I had a deadline and let myself get into a panic of self-doubt about being able to meet it. That's when it would most likely happen to me.

Quinn said...

337 books about writer's block ... crazy.

As for myself, I've never had writer's block with creative writing. I'm like you. My mind is just trying to figure out the possibilites.

However, I have gotten writer's block with academic writing.

WindyA said...

I don't think it is so much writer's "block" but more of a writer's brain saying "dude, you so gotta take a break right now" before you reach burnout stage, or before you set the house on fire because you forgot about dinner, or you lose one of the kids to the mountain of dirty laundry or something... which would all be worse, right?

Julie said...

I agree with the other comments. I think it's when we let the inner doubter get a little too much power, when the words we type feel set in stone rather than revisable. I've experienced the shades of it, but wrote my way through and out of it. :)

Laura Pauling said...

No, not a true writer's block where I couldn't absolutely write. I wouldn't count not being in the mood, or too tired, or stuck in the plot - a writer's block.

Jean Ann Williams said...

I worry about that, Sherrie, because I don't think I've had a bad case of writer's block. Does that mean I'm not really a writer? Am I fooling myself?

Good to know there are folks out there that haven't had the case of writer's block.

Hmmm, makes me wonder if we need 337 books on the topic.

BTW, I'm still smiling for you and the advancement in your career!

Krispy said...

I think it depends on how you look at it, and what you consider a block. I've had writer's block before, but that usually just means I need to take a break from the story and let my subconscious work things out.

Love the little tidbits in your post on writer's block!

Jan Markley said...

I don't believe in writers block - which doesn't make me popular among writers. I think if a person can't write then they probably need a change of scene or a break.

Congrats on the agent!!!!! I just found out! Very happy for you. It sounds like a great story! Persistence (and continual re-writing) pays off!

Cinette said...

Writer's block? I don't think so. Writer's procrastinationitis? Most definately!

Donna Hole said...

I don't really consider myself blocked. Not writing; stumped for an idea; stalled at a critical juncture . .

Not blocked.

I know that if I take a different tactic; experiment in a free write with pov, character arcs, a totally different direction for the scene, or just skip the scene and begin writing where I know the story was meant to go next, then I'm not "blocked", I've just reached an impass in THAT particular scene.

A lot of times I move on, and almost forget I didn't figure out a section of the novel until I'm re-reading for a self critique or revision prosess. Then I'm usually inspired by what should have happened during that "writers block" and can't believe I didn't go back and insert the appropriate segment.

One of the benifits of being a pantster is that I don't get stuck on a specific concept. I know things are going to change, and if I concentrate too long on a single event, nothing else gets written.

I focus always on what comes next. Where does one scene end and the next begin. Middles are hard for me. But if I move on, the beginning/end of THIS scene might be the middle of a prior scene and I'll have one of those AHA! moments that may change everything I've written after that point.

Me and editing/revision are best buddies. Writing is getting the basic story down. Editing/revising is a conversation with your characters to see where the story is supposed to go for the optimal publishing prospects.

Just my own writing opinions.

.........dhole

Lori W. said...

Interesting post and comments. I agree w/the self doubt comments. Blocks come when I begin to think, "This story is bad. I should abandon it now."

But also, a break from something can be good. Big plot problems can get solved while doing the dishes, so I try not to be too hard on myself when I don't get the daily word count I wanted, when nothing comes . . . block happens, but it's usually needed or temporary for me.

Susan R. Mills said...

I've been blocked before, but it is always short lived. I think it's usually because I need to examine where I'm going next with the story.

Suzanne Casamento said...

Great question. No. I've never had writer's block. I've experienced too much stress, worry or sadness or not enough time to write. Or like you, I've been bored or confused about which way to go with a manuscript, but never BLOCKED. There's always something else doing the blocking.

Shayda Bakhshi said...

I think that sometimes my own brand of writer's block was just inexperience. I'd get it a lot as a "child writer"--around ages 10-17. Truth was, I just didn't know how to structure a large project.

Now, writer's block is usually a sign that I'm flat-out not interested in what I'm writing. Sure, I have serious trouble WRITING certain scenes, but if I'm engaged with the material, it's more frustrating and passionate than just not being able to figure out what's going to happen next.

Very cool post; I haven't actually put my experiences with writer's block into words before!

Life 101 said...

Yes I've had writer's block many times. Sometimes I look through old photographs, sometimes I look through my souvenir drawer, and sometimes I do goofy stuff. Here's one of my columns I wrote recently about the subject.

http://www.homefolkmedia.com/Columns/WritersBlock.html

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