Archive for June 23rd, 2012

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012 by Ken Scholes
Road Closed: When Writer’s Block Takes Out the Bridge, Part 3

Howdy Folks and Happy Saturday!

We’ve been spending some time talking about writer’s block.  Last week, we talked about taking a careful inventory to get as accurate a read on what’s happened to your process.  Is it a problem with the goose (you) or the golden egg (the project you’re working on?)  Gathering as much information as possible through that exploration may bring you to a place of figuring out why you’ve stalled.   And if your exploration brings you to the place of realizing you’re stalled for a very good reason, do what you can to mitigate it.  In my experience, there are a lot of blocks that can unblocked by making changes somewhere either in your project or in yourself.

If it’s you, have the courage the face those changes.  One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard was that if you want to fix the problems in your writing, fix the problems in your personal life.  Because the two are bound up in one another.

And understand that there are just some things in life you can’t write through.  Especially losses — relationships, deaths, jobs.  These can have a profound impact on the creative muscle and you just have to wait it out.  Strike the balance between continuing to try and giving yourself the space you need to re-constitute.

In the midst of my recent blocks, I learned some tricks that helped.  They didn’t always work but they were still worthwhile.  So here’s a short list:

1)  Clean and organize your office or workspace.  Sometimes taking the time to create order in our environment helps us order our brain.

2)  Change where you work.  If you’re don’t have an office or workspace, establish one and see what happens.  If you usually write in our office or workspace try writing outside of it.  The living room, a cafe, a quiet park.  Explore.  What do you have to lose?

3)  Do whatever part of the work you can do.  There are a thousand things that need to be done in a writer’s life.  If you’re not writing fiction, write blog posts.  Re-do your website.  Gather and organize your tax data.  Go do some research.

4)  Return to the outline for whatever project you’re on.  If you don’t have an outline, create one.  If you do have an outline, ponder it, expand upon it.  Because if it is a problem with the golden egg you may be able beat the block with a bit of thought about what’s got you stuck in the project.

5)  Go for a walk.  Or a run.  Or a bike ride.  Get out and get active.  And keep at it.  It’s good for you and your brain and even if it doesn’t unblock you, it’s still giving you other benefits.

6)  Research writer’s block.  Oddly enough, it helped me.  Read what other writers have to say on the subject, talking about their experiences with it.  Talk to the writers you know.  You’re likely not experiencing something in a vacuum.  You may pick up some ideas from them.  And what the hell?  Try everything you can from their advice.

And the last two things:  Do not despair.  Keep trying.  Getting emotionally tangled up in the block can make it worse and you won’t know you’ve beaten it until, well, you’ve beaten it.  So keep your line in the water until the fish strikes.

I hope this has been helpful.  There’s nothing more frustrating in our line of work than not being able to write.

And, to quote Gump, that’s all I have to say about that.  Have a great weekend!  Trailer Boy out!