From the Pen of a Writer, Part 3: The Worst Ailment Known to Writers Everywhere

15 July 2011

Welcome to the third and final part of From the Pen of a Writer! This post deals with that horrid illness known as writer's block... and more importantly, how to remedy it. 
1. Nothing Comes From Nothing (for short-term writer's block)
I have often heard it said that when you are having trouble writing you should just "push through it" and scribble down anything; after all, you can always go back and edit it later, right? Wrong. Why would you waste your time writing something that you are only going to delete later? If you know you are not capable of writing anything of value at the moment, don't try to force it. Get up and take a walk; bake some chocolate chip cookies and lick the spoon; help your mother by folding some laundry or sweeping the kitchen floor. When you come back to your writing a few hours later, you'll have a lot of inspiration because you've cleared your head and taken a small break.
2. Paper and Pens Are Always Handy (for long-term writer's block)
If your problem with writers block is not going away and you've been dealing with it for several days (or weeks) now, a good way to get your ideas flowing is to write them down on paper. Get out your colorful pens and scribble down every single idea that comes to your head. It may sound like I am completely contradicting everything that I said in #1, but that is not the case. If possible, you want to avoid wasting your time writing something worthless. However, if you've been struggling with a lack of inspirations for a long time and you know more time away from writing is not going to help, there is nothing else to do but sit down and write. Get out your spiral-bound notebook and write a bullet-point list containing everything you like, i.e. time periods, themes, genres, places, character personalites, even as specific as eye and hair color. Then, when you have a good list, you can eliminate all ideas that are so-so and stick with the ones you absolutely love. If you plan on writing historical fiction, research can also help get your ideas flowing. It's all about being inspired by something that you love. Otherwise, writing will be an unpleasant chore.
3. "Okay, so I have my ideas... now what?" 
Now go back and re-read the section in Part 1 titled "Outlining." This should help you get a good idea of what steps to take when trying to form your unorganized spurts of inspiration.

Thank you for taking the time to read my series on writing. If you only take away one thing from this series, I hope it is that writing is an ongoing process and nobody is perfect. Everybody struggles with dialogue, gets a case of writer's block, or is tempted to delete their book altogether. That's all right. What matters is that you don't stop writing (for a long period of time, that is--getting up and making yourself a cup of tea is certainly permissable :)). 

3 epistles:

  1. Yay!! Great workshop!! I loved it all. I've been having the dreaded writer's block for over a month now, and I just can't seem to put the right words down for chapter 30. I know what I want in the long run, but how to get there? You know? I think I'm going to make cupcakes today and take a little break. Nice job, Elizabeth :))
    -Jocee <3

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  2. Elizabeth Rose, thank you for the informative post! For those that may struggle not only with the "block" but also the time to get ideas down when it finally starts up again: a digital recorder. They're really handy for getting ideas down even when you're in the middle of other tasks. Just an idea... Blessings!

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"Gracious words are like a honeycomb; sweetness to the soul and health to the body." —Proverbs 16:24

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