Sunday, January 13, 2013

Writer's Block

One the most frequent questions I get from readers and folks that know I’m a writer is whether or not “writer’s block” truly exists.  It’s one of those burning questions that every writer faces at one time or another in their life and the answer for each might be different.  For me, I can tell you, without a doubt, that writer’s block does exist.  There are times when I’m working on a story and my brain just sputters out.  I’m not talking about those times when I’m tapping at the end of a day and hit a great breaking point so I decide to call it a night; no, these block moments are times when the creativity just sputters out the way a lawnmower engine dies after you flood it with too much gas. 

Does that mean that I let those moments get the best of me, walking away without a fight?  Heck no!  That’s just not the kind of person I am.  So, when writer’s block rears its ugly head, I fight back.  There are a number of different steps I take and some of them might help you too!

·        Push your way through it:  Whenever my creative muse stutters and grinds to a halt, I grit my teeth and try to blast right through the blockage.  Basically, this means I keep on typing, cranking out whatever words come to mind related to the story, no matter how crappy they are or how ragged the sentences feel.  Hopefully, after doing this for a little bit, my creative engine will restart and after I groan at what I wrote previously, I can pick up where I left off and continue with the tale.

·        Work on a different story:   I’ve never been able to write just one story at a time.  It’s just not possible.  Too many characters clamor for my attention so I always have more than one “work in progress”.  Whenever I get stumped with one, and pushing through it doesn’t work, I switch over to another story for a bit.  I find that the change in characters, setting, and story line often pulls me out of the slump and I can eventually switch back to the first one.

·        Work on something else creative:   If pushing through and switching stories doesn’t work, I’ll pull myself away from the keyboard altogether and work on something else creative instead.  It’s important, to me at least, to keep the creative part of my brain active so if writing doesn’t do it, then painting or making jewelry will often work and soon I’m back at my first love, writing.  You don’t even have to choose something fancy to get creative with; if you have kids, get down and dirty with them, doing some finger painting or arts and crafts.

·        Do something to clear your mind:  If all of that fails, I will get outside and go hiking in the mountains, using the fresh air and the beauty of the outdoors to clear my mind and calm my nerves.  Perhaps yoga or meditation works better for but whatever it is, sometimes you have to go there to break through a block.

·        Take a break:  If none of those steps work, I know it’s time to take a longer break, put away the keyboard and the idea book, and not think about writing for a while.  I still do marketing and keep up my websites but I don’t attempt to write on any of my stories until I get the itch again, usually some time later.  My blocks rarely ever take me to this point but sometimes when combined with the stresses of life they do.  I’ve learned to let my brain recover and it always does.

So now you know how I deal with writer’s block.  How do you deal with it?