Fat Mogul vs. Writer’s Block

If you don't already know that this is from the amazing Bill Watterson, I suggest you pick yourself up a Calvin and Hobbes omnibus immediately.
If you don’t already know that this is from the amazing Bill Watterson, I suggest you pick yourself up a Calvin and Hobbes omnibus immediately.

Writer’s block.  It’s a phrase that I think everyone is familiar with, and no doubt countless high school essays have caused the term to be uttered by just as many people.  It’s a concept that can mean so many different things, and has been used to explain away the reasons for so many different failures.

I’ve talked about Writer’s Block on here before, although generally on a pretty small scale, as I typically find myself in the issue of having too much to write about, instead of too little.

Well, I’ve always said that, but it was because I didn’t fully understand to what lengths Writer’s Block can really occur…something I’ve become much more aware of since I’ve begun attempting to make this blog filled with more reader-friendly content.

You see, although I don’t generally suffer for lack of things to write about (because I often come here and just start typing whatever’s on my mind at the moment), I do often suffer from coming up with worthwhile things to write about.  With my books, I’ve got so much planned out ahead of where I’m actually at in the writing process that I don’t generally get stuck too often, outside of just not wanting to deal with a particular scene or transition that I’m currently working on, but now that I’ve been working with these new-fangled reader-centric blog posts and flash fiction, I’ve found that sometimes I can just sit behind the keyboard and be at a complete loss for what I might want to say.

I recently realized that I was actually prepared for such an occurrence.

As said above, one of the worst pieces of Writer’s Block is when you just can’t think of anything worthwhile to write.  Sure, you could sit behind the computer and discuss how much you hate Batman for hours on end, but there’s generally only so much you can say before readers tune you out, especially considering how much fanboy love Batman’s got nowadays.

When I was a younger man, I often dealt with the issue of coming up with great ideas at the most inopportune times.  I would be laying in bed with my eyes closed, and suddenly I’d come up with this awesome little idea for a story, or attempting to feed my kids, or, well, you know, doing things that definitely didn’t allow me the time to just sit and thing and plot and whatever else.  Finally, after over a decade of dealing with this situation, where I would sit in bed afraid that I would lose this perfect idea, I started taking notes.  At first, it was on whatever scrap of paper I had around, later, I started using a note-taker on my phone.

These all got compiled into a big text file that sits on a hidden corner of my hard drive…very few times has it actually had anything taken off of it.

When dealing with these blockages in the most recent weeks, I suddenly realized that I had a huge wealth of ideas of things to talk about, things that I just never actually explored at all.  Mostly these apply well to my attempts at flash fiction, but in the end, this giant file of random thoughts and sometimes nonsensical sentences serves quite well to jump start my brain with a whole bunch of things that I find interesting.  Things that then lend quite well towards actually giving me something to write about.

So, here’s my cure, the thing you need to do in order to keep yourself writing (at least when actually blocked and not just dealing with how to work through the next section in a book or whatever): Take notes.  All the time.  Your brain is constantly coming up with new random things that interest you or intrigue you for further exploration.  Note them and actually come back to them.  You’ll find that it won’t take much for your brain to get right back on that same track of thinking and get jumpstarted into writing mode once again.

As far as when you’re blocked on how to move forward on something you’re in the midst of, here’s my trick for that:  Decide what happens next.  Many people say to just skip that scene and start writing the next section after it.  That could help, but that’s more procrastination than anything else.  Typically if I’m stuck, the issue is more that I just don’t know how to get through the next scene because I’m not entirely certain of what it all leads into.  If I just sit down and do a plotting of the scenes that follow, I’m almost always immediately launched into yet another spat of writing that can’t be stopped.

Now, if you’re blocked (like I am right now) due to the fact that you just don’t have the time to actually sit down and write…let me know when you figure out the cure.  Because I’d really like to have the time to sit down and rock through the rest of my work in progress in a couple sessions.  Right now I’m moving like molasses just because I can’t do more than 1000 words a day before I get called away to other duties.

Hope this helps.  If it doesn’t, there’s always one other fix.  Write something completely different, possibly whatever’s stuck on your brain that isn’t worthwhile writing.  Sometimes just getting that out will help give the muse some room to work once again.

Alright, I’m gone.  Have fun out there!

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