Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A post that might make you hate me

Don't get mad at me. But I've never really had this problem:


And I hop around the blogosphere. I know a lot of you battle it. But I just...don't.

*ducks from all the flying objects being thrown at me*

But here's the thing. (And please, hold that rotten tomato!)

I think the reason for this is because I use a different definition of writer's block--not because I'm just luckier or something (believe me, I'm not).

See--to me--real writer's block is this like...hopeless, staring at a blank page or a blank screen with absolutely zero ideas and no way to find any ideas and it stretches on for days, weeks, months, years, until it's been so long since you've written that you're not even sure you remember how you do it. And by that definition, I bet most of you have never suffered from it either (and if you have, feel free to fling things at me.)

For the rest of us, I think what's really happening is what I like to think of as, hitting the wall. You have a draft, or an idea, and a lot of things are clicking and flowing and life is going good. And then, it screeches to a halt. Something isn't working, and you don't know what to do.

That's the wall.

But the great thing about it is...it's just a wall. Walls can be climbed over. They can be tunneled under. You can stray off the path a bit and see if you find another way around.  Or, if worse comes to worse, you turn back and try to retrace the steps that led you there, so you can go a different way.

It's not WRITER'S BLOCK.  It's just a temporary setback that requires a little extra mental muscle (and perhaps a little rewriting or revision) to get back on track again.

Maybe it's just me, but it helps me to think of it that way. Writer's Block sounds like some horrible, incurable plague that will destroy your life. Hitting the wall sounds like--eh, you had a bad day. Dust yourself off and keep moving. And considering how much writing depends on having the right mind set and self confidence to dig in and keep going, it makes a big difference.

So yeah, I don't get writer's block. And I hope you guys don't either. But you tell me. How do you define writer's block? And how do you cope when you get it.

35 comments:

  1. I define writer's blog as not being able to string together three sentences that one is happy with. Fortunately, as a blogger, it has not been much of a factor for me.

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  2. We have a similar opinion of writer's block. I don't believe it truly exists. I see it as that place a writer must go to grow, think out of the box, flourish, and hopefully take the story to a whole new place.

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  3. I'd say a wall is a sort of blockage but you are right that you can overcome this wall in so many ways. My ideal method is to detach - to do something else, to go for a walk, do housework - anything to clear mind, body and spirit! And not to obsess or force the issue and to take one's time. :-)

    Take care
    x

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  4. I don't get writers block, either, and I'm a pretty good climber, so the wall doesn't stall me for long. My problem is that I'm easily . . . whoa, who was that hot guy who just walked by? ;)

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  5. I define it as banging my head against a wall, unable to form a simple sentence. I cope by eating a a lot of chocolate, crying and basically wasting time until it passes.

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  6. Great post. I'm the same way. I'll say I don't have writer's block (b/c I don't, based on your def, which is mine, too) but man, oh man, have I hit walls. Enough walls to have a deleted scenes folder of 46K. But blocked? Never. I'll fill pages and pages and pages... of slime that needs to be deleted, but the words are always there!

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  7. I'm had writer's block and it usually occurs when I overwork myself. Now I must figure out how to stop doing that.

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  8. Hmmm, I've always described Writer's Block as what you're calling the wall. I still kind of like calling it Writer's Block; it seems very writer-esque. :) And hitting the wall just seems really final, but that's just me. :)

    Anyway, I've never heard what your calling Writer's Block, either! *high-5*

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  9. No throwing.

    I have the wall too - not the block. My problem is too many ideas. When I hit the wall, I sit on the idea, think about it, and work on something else or nothing else. Stephen King said that only happened to him once, and he sat on it until the idea came to him. It wound up being his most critically acclaimed book.

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  10. For me, it's more about running out of steam than hitting a wall. When I write, I feel like the-little-engine-that-could-write-if-he-just-drank-more-caffeine. :) Oh, the joys of a bi-vocational author.

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  11. I'm with you. As long as you're trying, and writing SOMETHING, or even hashing around an idea, I don't see it as writers block either.

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  12. I agree. I hit the wall in every piece I write, usually around the 10 - 15 K mark. I've written enough to know this about myself.

    So what do I do?

    Write out of order. I write what I can see, no matter where it is in the MS. Then I just have to turn surgeon and go back and stitch everything together. Like that's hard... Ha!

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  13. I like your way of looking at this! Not being a writer, I don't hit walls, but I do at times find that I'm just not in the right mind-set to edit. Times like that I just set everything aside and try later. "It" comes back and then (many times) I'm at it for hours...

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  14. I've never had writer's block either - and it's probably in my take on things too. If I hit that wall, I tend to go back, reread and see where I took a wrong turn.

    If I can't find it, I choose a point and rewrite from there - if it doesn't work, I try again. :)

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  15. You want to know what happened when I had writer's block last summer? My book blog. I thought it would be a great way for me to read, write, let out some inner frustration, and hear the soft rap-a-tap-tap of the keys without the pressure of character development, plot, or my awful habit of passive voice. Technically, "writer's block" didn't stop me from writing completely, but I was writing in a different way. Since I'm writing my opinions, thoughts, and feelings...and not a middle grade novel...BLOG writer's block doesn't exist for me. I have thoughts, therefore, I have words.


    PS. On a side note, my word verification word struck me as funny...bralift. Hm. I think a trip to Victoria's Secret is in order.

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  16. I'm kinda like Elana. If I hit a rough patch, I write a different scene. Maybe some part I'm really excited about and then play Dr. Frankenstein and stitch 'em in. :)

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  17. I would say I hit writers wall and not block. It sometimes takes me a while to get back on track when something happens within the WiP and I have to reconfigure where I was going, the ideas are still there though just in a mess.
    Then there are outside factors where things in life come in and I have the inability to write for whatever that reason is...but the ideas are always there, I just don't always have the words for them ;)

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  18. I don't believe I've ever called it writer's block either. The wall pops up now and then (who am I kidding it's like changing maze in the Labyrinth, walls popping up all over.)

    The thing is, as you said - eventually you do discover a way around (and through the maze). (Hugs)Indigo

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  19. I have never suffered from writer's block but I have hit a wall before...actually it was more of a little picket fence.

    I'm a procrastinator, shocking I know. I also like to mull over a story for a while before I sit down and really dive into it so it's pretty much full blown in my head.

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  20. I have never suffered from writer's block but I have hit a wall before...actually it was more of a little picket fence.

    I'm a procrastinator, shocking I know. I also like to mull over a story for a while before I sit down and really dive into it so it's pretty much full blown in my head.

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  21. Yeah... no block, but a wall that can easily turn into a maze if I let it! I see the wall and want to run right! No, make that left! Hold on, what's back where I came from?! And then it's just a mess. :)

    I have to remind myself to work with the wall in front of me, and not turn into a yapping chihuahua.

    Cuz I do "chihuahua mode" VERY well.

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  22. I find it hard to write if I'm depressed. Luckily, that has happened too terribly often lately. Ha! Maybe I ought to slow down.. NAH!

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  23. So true! I'm glad you distinguished between writer's block and the wall. I always have ideas, tons of them, and I figured writer's block is when you don't know what to write about. But I still get stuck like any other writer. So it's not about lack of ideas, but about what to do with them. And you're right -- we can climb over or crawl under walls!

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  24. I agree. I never have writer's block either. I have way too many ideas that I can't keep up with them all (hence all my files with just one sentence or idea written in them, lol). I usually work on multiple projects at one time and bounce between them, so I never have days were I'm sitting at the computer screen, staring blankly, with nothing to write. Just doesn't happen to me.

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  25. Well, you put it that way and I don't think I've ever had it. I can always write something. It may not be connected to my wip but it's something.

    p.s.

    I read all of my blogs in google reader and for some reason, yours never went over there automatically. I wasn't completely ignoring you but I have now remedied the sitch. :)

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  26. That's a great way to look at it. Sometimes I waste all my writing time checking blogs when I get like that or take a break and read. Other times I tweek what I've written. Once I even started the second book in a series until I felt ready to "fix" the first one I was stumped on.

    I hope I never get the writer's block you described, like staring at a page for years. I can handle writing the same book for years, but not staring at the blank page.

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  27. Very true -- I think it's easy to forget that a wall is still just a WALL, and it can be conquered. Onward and upward!

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  28. Flinging things at you! Just kidding ;)

    I know it's controversial but I believe in writer's block. To me, it's a lot of things: feeling frustrated or lost or doubting yourself, not being able to capture the image in your head on paper.
    I think it's what you described too. And I know lots of people say," I don't like to call it writer's block" for the very reason you said that, but I think it's kind of cool that we have this universal writerly syndrome that captures perfectly the frustration of feeling alone and lost in your own literary world that every other writer sort of kind of understands and sympathizes with. (And *THAT* was the longest run-on sentence ever. My bad.)

    I started a blog post on this exact subject. Maybe I'll post it one day.

    Anywho, I could never hate you. :) Also, I'm glad you don't get writer's block because I intend to keep reading Shannon masterpieces for years to come!

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  29. I'm with you, Shannon. I have tons of ideas. And the times writing gets harder, I've pushed through it.

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  30. I skip around in the story when I hit a wall. I can always fill in holes later, right?

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  31. Yeah, I don't get writer's block. Sometimes I'm totally stumped and filled with despair but I force myself to keep writing (even if what I'm writing is total rubbish) because I worry that if I stop writing during a low point, I won't want to go back to it. I try to always end on a high.

    If I'm really stuck, I write (awesome stuff happens here) and move onto a new scene. It doesn't work for everyone but it works for me.

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  32. You're right about it really being hitting a wall. I don't think of it as writer's block. I always try to examine why I'm stuck, and usually I see that it's got to do with going in the wrong direction with something, rather than actually being "blocked" of ideas. That kitten is soooo cute though :)

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  33. I don't get it either. USC must have inoculated us from such disasters. I will however write something so craptstic it must be deleted before the free world is alerted to my lack of awesomeness. I do so love the power of delete.

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  34. This is why I adore your blog. Seriously.

    You are so right. It isn't a block, it's something we can scale, dig under and, in the end, get past.

    Thanks for this post. I love your insight (and how sweet and funny you are while being so wise!)

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  35. I don't get writer's blosk either. I eithe suffer from procrastination or I just get easily distrac- oh, what's this shiny new blog over here?

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