In a writing slump?

Lately I've been suffering from writer's block. Think I'm part way out of the slump now and thank goodness because I was going a little insane! This week, because I couldn't write, I worked on edits and also looked over a few other stories. Just trying to get myself back in the game.

Have you ever suffered from writer's block? Have you ever just gone blank? You stare at the screen, but nothing happens. Like zero. Nada. It's like doing a school report. I kept trying to come up with something jazzy, but the truth is, I was all out of words. I don't think the why matters as much as what to do to fix it.

My personal solution was to take someone else's advice. I stepped away from the computer this week. I went to the movies with my daughters one day and saw G. I. Joe (loved it!). The break was nice. I also spent some time just doing nothing. Emailing with friends and playing computer games. Finally, I felt like I was ready to get back to work. I opened my current WIP and started reading. Soon, the words came and I was back on track. YES!

Nevertheless, what a frustrating thing to happen! Sometimes you need motivation. Whether it's the promise of chocolate or a glass of wine waiting at the end of the line (or if you're like me and you want both!), it gives you a goal. I'm all about having fun with this writing gig because otherwise, what the hell's the point?

So, I ask you, do you have any interesting tricks to keep the words flowing? Surely I'm not the only one who's ever suffered frm writer's block around here...right? Do you lean on your fellow authors in those times? Ask them to give you a nudge or to engage you in a writing challenge? What's your answer to this very frustrating problem?
16 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Writer's block? What's that. RIGHT.

    Yeah, suffer and suffer hard at times.

    I think you took the right approach. Step away, read something else, or just edit an old work.

    I like to do prompts. Something completely opposite of what I'd normally do. That usually sparks my muse and gets me nack ob track.

    Candi Wall

  2. BrennaLyons Says:

    In addition to taking a break to read or watch movies or relax... I wrote this blog post back in 2006 that might be of help.

    Good luck!


  3. Susan Lyons Says:

    Anne, I'm glad you're back on track now.

    I think the right solution for dealing with writer's block has a lot to do with the source of the block, if you can figure that out. Like, if it's that you're tired and burned out, then stepping away from the work-in-progress to fill the creative well is probably the best answer (as it was for you). Or, if it's that (as often happens with me) you don't know your characters or story well enough (one of the drawbacks of not being a plotter), then you need to figure them out. I find, even going for a short walk will often help. It's like the physical exercise jars something loose in my brain that's been blocked.

    I have an article on my website with a ton of tips for dealing with Writer's Block: I also have one on Facing the Fear Monster, because sometimes the block is grounded in some kind of fear (e.g., fear of failure).

  4. Anne Rainey Says:

    Thanks, Candi!

    Brenna--I'll check out that post! Thanks!

    Susan--YES! Fear of really bad! That's the suckiest feeling in the world! I'll definitely check out that article. I swear, I really felt like I was the only one who suffered from fear of failure. That nagging feeling that you just won't be able to measure up is the worst!

  5. Hi Anne,
    Writer's block is the bane of my existence. I don't get it often, but when I do, it's ridiculous. I have found ways to combat it - oddly movies and video games (I also loved GI Joe).
    If it's a case of burnout, that usually works. But if it's really something to do with the book, then I know it's time for a little harder hitting solution and usually one of two helps me breath through. The first is the What If box. Literally a small box with a pen, index cards, the words What If printed on the inside of the lid and a few randomly phrases on paper. I pull one out and use them as writing cues to write 250 words. My favorite was "What if ... a character punched a horse?" I came up with a funny scene for a book with that one, very unintentionally. The other way is also writing but it's free writing with pen and paper. It's just channeling whatever thoughts are burning through your brain, almost without looking. I write for 10 or so minutes that way and by the time I'm done, I'm good to go on the book. It's like erasing the chalkboard.

  6. Chloe Waits Says:

    Burnout is one cause for sure.

    When I get blocked, I have to get excited again to push through it.

    I will start reading partials of unfinished work to try to get the wheels turning, and also read other authors. Hearing their voice, makes me excited to find my own again.

    I find that helps. I find I have ebbs and flows though...

  7. Anne Rainey Says:

    Jennifer--That's something new. I love it. I'll give that a try!

  8. Anne Rainey Says:

    Chloe--I agree, reading other authors does help. Esp. if it's someone who writes in the same genre as me. :)

  9. I rework old manuscripts, begin short stories, work on blogs, clean! Sometimes reading other authors' works will help me to get back into writing. Either their books are so great, it's a catalyst, or they're so bad I want to write my own again. :) Sometimes it's trying something new and different, spreading our wings.

  10. Paris Says:

    I journal. In fact if I just sit down pen and yellow pad in hand and start to doodle, write stream of consciousness "babbling" pretty soon I come full circle and figure out what's blocking my creativity. It's more helpful than the maniacal baking that I used to do--the kids would come home to a full cookie jar, fresh bread and a pie or cake.

    Did I mention that journal writing is less fattening?

  11. Meg Allison Says:

    I'm having a bit of trouble with this right now. My problem stems from a recent R ... and worrying about making the same mistakes in the story I'm working on.

    I love the ideas mentioned so far. Another thing that often helps me is music. That's where I get most of my inspiration -- and it can help me work through the block. I also find taking a long walk can help; or a drive with my 'muse'. ;)

  12. Anne Rainey Says:

    Terry--It's interesting you should say that. I actually did come up w/ a new short story idea. It's not fully formed, but I figured since the words weren't coming maybe I could start thinking of a future idea. It did help too!

  13. Anne Rainey Says:

    Paris--I've never been one to journal. I wish I were good at that though. My MIL has tons of journals. It would be so neat to look back over the years on all those memories. :)

  14. Anne Rainey Says:

    Meg--Those "Rs" can really suck the fun right out of writing, huh? I hate having all those self-doubts. It just freezes our creativity! Good luck with it and I hope you're able to get past it! :)

  15. Nicole North Says:

    I think what helps me most is reading books by others. It gets me out of that rut feeling. Hope your creativity is flowing now, Anne!!

  16. Wow, lots of good suggestions here. I find when I'm "blocked" it's because I don't know where my story is going. The "what if" game is good to play and sometimes just sitting down and putting words on the page works. (That's why I like to plot.)

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