Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Re: Road Trip Wednesday #93: Beating Writer's Block

Is there anything more awful then a blank page?

For anyone who aspires to write, I think the answer could safely be no. It can be maddening to have visions of images and scenes and words stuck in my head and to be barred from pinning them down for others to see.

I feel that there are two reasons that I can get blocked.

#1: I Don't Know What I'm Talking About:

I write a lot of fantasy and paranormal stories. This means that some of the things that I come up with are, in large part, drawn from my imagination. This can be a blessing or a curse. It leaves me free to come up with awesome ideas, but it also gives me the responsibility of finding a way to make people understand and experience what I am talking about as they read. That can be easier said then done.

I have lots of ways that I combat this problem. I do detailed character sheets. I find images so that I can see my characters and their world as vividly as possible. You see, I need to believe that the world I am building (or altering, if I am setting a tale here on earth) is real before I can write it. I need to feel like I am there, believe what is happening. Quite a paradox for someone who writes about Gods and magic and the supernatural, huh?

There is also the more practical aspect of this, too. I need to know what I am talking about when I use things from the real world. For instance, I had to research Whistler, B.C. for Moon Dance, as well as The Nutcracker, what the model of the iPhone that was available at the time was capable of doing, how to fire a pistol, avalanche causes, conditions and rescue, cars (curse you and your obsession with cars, Kesyl!) and ballet. I find it hard to decide how well I need to know a topic. I am always nervous that what I am saying won't ring true. And this can get me stuck until I feel at least semi-confident from doing a bit of research.

#2: Nothing I Write Sounds Right:

This drives me mad. "Would he say this?", "Do I need him to drink some coffee between those sentences?", "How much thought / interior monologue is acceptable here?", "Should I end the chapter here or after the next scene?" ... If I let myself get bogged down in this stuff, I can go totally cold and complete absolutely nothing.

It's funny to talk about this, because what I have found is that I am able to overlook it in my rough draft. But now that Moon Dance is in revisions? Right. My brain is in overdrive trying to get every little detail perfect instead of relaxing and working on one set of problems at a time. (Right now I'm suppose to be working on editing some plot bunnies that didn't quite reach the briar patch.)

There are two weapons that tend to work for this. The first one is to bribe myself. I keep lists of things that I want -- games, books, gadgets, DVD sets, etc. -- and use them to keep me moving forward. The second is to pretend I am writing the scene I am editing again for the first time, tricking myself into thinking it's part of the rough draft or a totally separated short story.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Writer's block can really suck the life out of you. But if you can figure out who or what stole the key, it is totally possible to open the door and let the story come through. Good luck! :D


  1. I can't stand that "nothing sounds right" moment. Many thousands of words have been deleted because of it.

  2. Ugh... The "nothing sounds right" business is so tiresome sometimes, eh?

    But I like your solution--a little bribery can work miracles. Maybe I should get some nice dark chocolate to use as an incentive. ;)

  3. My rough draft is full of those nothing sounds right moments. Then I shelve the story for a while and Mr. Subconscious tends to fix some of that for me. :)


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