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The Blǿk. Bleached oak, $139.

13 December 2010

If you’re a writer, chances are rather good you’ve suffered through a period where you just couldn’t, for the life of you, put words down on paper (or onto the computer screen, if that’s how you roll). You’d sit down with the best intentions, stare at the blank page or the blinking cursor for a while, then get up to do something else.

I know, because I had writer’s block for quite some time. Almost a decade, actually. There was a good period of eight or nine years there where I didn’t put much down , either on paper or into a word-processing program. I’d try every once in a while, and even got a couple of books started, but I never could seem to actually finish anything (or even get it beyond the first couple of chapters).

I wrote a teleplay or seven during that time with a good friend of mine, which he and I found amazingly funny, though I don’t know if they translated well to normal, non-Nate-and-myself-type people. But as far as novels go. . . nothing, really.

So I know what it’s like not to be able to write. The question for you fine folks is, how do you fix what’s broken? How do you get back to outputting words when you’re faced with that blank screen or page?

For me, it was simple brute force. I forced myself to sit down and put something down each day, to fight through it. Didn’t matter if it was good or bad, and didn’t matter if it went anywhere — I just had to keep putting stuff down and trust that eventually, something halfway decent would come of it. It worked all right.

And you?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 13 December 2010 0731

    Don’t have writer’s block, but do sometimes suffer from what one of my friends describes as ‘writer’s life’. I have a partner with a health condition who sometimes needs a certain amount of assistance; her parents are aged and occasionally need help; her son is ADHD and gets into situations that take a lot of time and effort to unravel and undo. I have freelance writing projects for educational and training institutions that have deadlines. Sometimes I get lucky and write 1500 words of fiction in a day; sometimes, recently, as much as 8 whole words (which I may scrub the following day!). Equally, I sometimes get smart ideas for stories that seem to need more attention than my current fiction project and take me away from it for a while, usually for a piece of flash fiction. However, I take the view that much of the ‘everyday life’ stuff that happens is grist to the writing mill and some of it does make its way into my writing sooner or later.

    There’s a science fiction writer, Graham Joyce, who goes to some of the conferences and workshops I go to. His take on it was that retrospectively, the years of ‘writer’s block’ he had wasn’t a block, but ‘research’, even though he didn’t see it that way at the time. It was the stuff that happened in those years that gave him source material for his first two or three novels.

    My experiences don’t directly compare with yours but that’s my 2 pence/cents worth.

    • 13 December 2010 0749

      Quite an interesting way to look at it, and probably very true. I also prefer to think of that time I wasn’t writing as incubation time rather than procrastination time — all the while, stuff was brewing in the back of my head. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

      Thanks for commenting and dropping by!

  2. Trace permalink
    13 December 2010 1022

    I try to fight through it as best I can. Like Jon, I might only put down a couple words a day, but I try to keep on it despite work and everything.

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