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Saturday, February 07, 2009

It's Not Writer's Block - - It's Worse!

When I think of writer's block, I think of someone staring at a page in front of the typewriter with absolutely no ideas of what to put on that page.
Worse than writer's block, methinks, is when you reach that place where you write everyday, but get no where with your story. It’s the equivalent of getting stuck with a stationary bike for Tour de France.

Writing itself isn’t the problem—you’ve written the scene 432 ways, you’ve got conflict, you’ve got tension, you’ve got descriptions, you’ve had 101 ideas. . . . You know the story is heading in this direction, but somehow every scene is just plain wrong.

Twice in my writing life I've entered into that phase where it lasted more than a month--and it’s not a lot of fun. Let me tell you.

So far the only solution I know is to show up every day and write. That’s what we do right? No matter what. Even if we know we’re going to type and type like some half-crazed person pedaling away, trying to get somewhere, but going nowhere.

Eventually, though, something breaks and the story flows again. Usually the solution was so obvious it’s ridiculous. Maybe you get an idea in the middle of the night and you finally nail it.

My experience is that I walk away with a treasure stash of descriptions, conversations, and characterizations. (That, and a bunch of darlings I'll have to murder because I won’t be able to shoe-horn them anywhere else. )

What you about you guys? Am I the only one? Has this ever happened to you? Or worse yet, is it happening right now?


  1. For me, Jessica, it's "take a break" time. I write for days, weeks, whatever, and then it's like empty. At first it was scary. No more. For me I've learned that it's break time, time to move away from the story and do something else, usually start reading another novel. It's the way the Lord does things with me. Can't say I know why, but I trust Him for the writing since He's the source anyway.

  2. It's happening now, but my problem is lack of a reason to write.

    Don't throw your sandals at me. Of course writing in itself is reason enough to write, but having a goal - a conference appointment, a contract, a deadline - is a great motivator. After several years of pedaling, I've arrived nowhere and I'm questioning my call and my talent. Those around me also seem a bit dubious about my future as a writer. That doubt reflects in my ability to sit at the keyboad and tweak those scenes.

    I'm inclined to put it down for a time and when I can once again write for the sole reason of writing, then sit down and start again. But is that the proper solution? I don't know. The writing books I've read and conference classes I've attended didn't cover what I hope is the normal downside of the writing life.


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