Monday 6 January 2020

Writer's Block Revisited - The Craetive Process


This was one of the first topics I visited when I started doing advice pieces on my blog. You can find the original here. I wanted to touch on it again for a number of reasons. One being that times have changed and my whole writing process has changed along with it. When I first wrote that piece back in 2013, I wasn't as productive as I am now, I didn't have my writing process honed down to the level I do now and I wasn't writing full time either. I was busy juggling uni and still trying to get books written.

Another reason is that since I've grown as a writer and become more confident in both myself and my abilities, I've learned ways around writer's block. I know that a lot of people will say that it exists and that there are some sure fire ways to get rid of it, but I'm just gonna say this: what works for one person may not work for another, and when you have your process in that sweet spot of planning and allotting time for your writing, you may find that writer's block becomes a thing of the past.

I'm not saying that it doesn't exist, it does, for a lot of writers, it's the bane of their creativity. But for others, not being able to write past something is a bigger sign of other problems. Like you're pantsing something and you're not really a pantser, or you're a plotter, but haven't done the level of planning you personally need. Or you've written yourself into a corner and need to brainstorm. Or you're burnt out, or you're getting hit with imposter syndrome. Any number of things.

And while I can't claim to have the sure fire answer, because as I said above, it's not a one size fits all kinda thing, I can give you some tips to try and diagnose your writer's block and work out what it actually is, and how you can work around it, through it, or avoid it all together. As always your mileage may vary and this is just what's worked for me in the past. I'm not you, you're the only one who can decide if this is something that will ultimately work for you.


This is a big thing for me, if I'm not feeling good, then yeah, my writing is going to be like pulling teeth. If I'm super stressed or just not well, then I'm gonna find it harder and harder to get the words on the page. It doesn't have to be something huge either, it can be a fight with a friend, or nerves about something, and it can throw you through the wringer and slow those creative juices from flowing.


I ask this simply because if you do, and you can't get the words out, then it can be a number of things. You could be too focused on making the words perfect and that's what's blocking you. Or you could be too wrapped up in other things to focus. But if you don't know what happens next and you can't think of anything, maybe this is the time to go back and work on your outline, either expanding it, or redoing it and brainstorming to see what works for your story.


I often found times when I would write myself into a corner and then have no idea what to do next. I've since learned how not to do that, and through that I've also accepted that sometimes you have to rewind. That means cutting, but keeping, where you got stuck and starting a new direction, it might be that you get stuck again, in which case it might be better to do point two, but if not, you might find a way to use some of what you wrote in the draft at some point, which is why you shouldn't delete completely when drafting!


Another thing that I've found causes writer's block is when people start to edit before the draft is finished. I mean, I'm someone who can do that, but it's not always possible. People get so focused on making the words perfect that they find they can't move forward. All that happens there is you end up with several drafts of the first few chapters, and the rest of the book never happens. It can also be a way to kill a project because you just lose hope and passion for it after so many times writing those first few scenes.

This is tied into point four slightly in that the idea is that when you draft, your book should be as perfect as a finished, polished book, and that's simply not the case. It can lead to you re-reading your work and thinking you're an imposter in the writing world, which is something a lot of people go through. It's not easy creating for your job, and part of being a writer is knowing that those first words in that very first draft, don't have to be perfect, but it's a hard cycle to break.

So that's where I stand on writer's block. Do you have any other tips on what to do to avoid it? How you work out what thing it is that's blocking you? Lemme know down in the comments!

P.S It's my birthday today! I'm 38!

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