I’m ready. I’m so ready.
I open my word processor of choice—Scrivener for fiction, open office or word for blogging. I take a deep breath, hands hovering over the keyboard, barely brushing the keys if at all and—
The cursor blinks, hypnotizing and terrifying.
Maybe a couple of words come out, maybe the screen is just blank.
It’s a nightmare for a fair few writers I know—so I asked three writers to answer a couple of questions I had about their personal experiences with writer’s block!
Website | Her Interview with me 😀 | Buy her book, Tales by Rails | Twitter
Jewel is the author of the Rays of Sunshine series of novellas and is in pursuit of an agent for her Witches’ Rede historical romance series.
Blog | Buy her book, Blood and Water | Twitter | YouTube
Briana is an author, editor, and all-around wonderful person. She’s dedicated to writing good fiction, helping others, and being a devoted mother to her furbaby.
Blog | Twitter
Zac Tyson is a YA and MG speculative fiction writer. He often travels to other worlds by transport of books, and also loves peanut butter and occasionally forgets he’s not a kid anymore.
Thank you all so much for participating in this blog post! I really appreciate your time and effort in answering these questions!
Question 1) What is writer’s block to you and how to recognize it?
Jewel says, “For me, writer’s block is the absolute and complete loss of interest in what I’m writing. Usually even if I’m not actively writing or editing, I’m running story lines, dialogue, etc. through my head. Writer’s block is where that internal movie reel stops. As I’ve seen on memes, it’s where ‘my imaginary friends stop talking to me.’”
Briana says, “I don’t believe in writer’s block the same way some other writer’s do. For me, it’s more of a lack of motivation or fear of failure that keeps me from moving forward.”
Zac says, “Writer’s Block. Two of my least favorite words. *shudders* A terrible thing. Writer’s Block, to me, is when your creativity is beaten, bruised, and completely drained until it’s a decaying, fragile, pitiful mess on the floor of your inspiration. Some people say writer’s block (from here on out let’s look on it as an acid-breathing dragon) isn’t actually a thing–to which I heartily disagree. That acid-breathing dragon is a very real, and very dangerous, thing. It can and will destroy your story.
“But only if you let it.
“Look at it like this. You are a knight, fully armored and prepared to face the acid-breathing dragon. You meet it on the battlefield, confident, ready, determined. Then it breathes its acid on you. You’re thrown to the grown, your armor withering away. The dragon soars over you and heads for your castle, where your true love (let’s call this true love “Muse”), the person that means everything to you, your heart and soul, is watching. The dragon swoops down and grabs Muse. It’s taunting you.
“And then it drops Muse. You watch Muse plummet to the ground, petrified. Your blood chills until you freeze to your core Run! Save Muse! you scream at yourself.
“Now you have two choices. Run, catch Muse–you know you can if you go fast enough–get to safety, or watch Muse plummet to the ground, shatter against the earth, then in a blind rage, attack the dragon with all you have.
“Which gets you nowhere. Your armor has been melted away, your true love is gone, dead, and that dragon is three times your size. It swallows you in a matter of seconds.
“Don’t watch your Muse fall and shatter. You can’t put the pieces back together–not the way you want it to be. The it originally was. You might fix it, but Muse will never look the same. It will be cracked, fragile–you will not ever look at “Muse” the same way again. So, don’t let the acid-breathing dragon win. Save your Muse, then go slay that dragon before it touches Muse, your story, ever again.”
Question 2) What causes writer’s block for you?
Jewel says, “1. Getting frustrated with a WIP (as a pantser, this stems from writing myself into a corner because I’m winging virtually everything I do). If I don’t know a character’s motivation (as happened with book 2 of The Witches’ Rede), if someone behaves WELL out of character and I can’t find a way to justify her actions (again, book 2 of The Witches’ Rede), or if I don’t know how to get characters from point A to point B (novella 2 of the Rays of Sunshine series)—all these things can lead to frustration, which becomes Writer’s Block. And then everything goes on a time out.
“2. Depression, which I’ve suffered with for over two decades now. (The depression starts for whatever reason and I stop writing . . . The vicious cycle also works the opposite direction–I write myself into a corner, get frustrated, stop writing, get depressed.)”
Briana says, “If I don’t want to write a difficult scene or am afraid of “getting it wrong” somehow, it will take me ages to write. Given the emotional nature of Blood and Water, there were several scenes I struggled to write. Also, although I’m more a pantser than anything else, not knowing what happens next can also cause some writer’s block. You can’t write if you have no idea what comes next! Even if I don’t know what immediately happens next, it’s nice to have some kind of big-picture idea. Without that, I’m lost.”
Zac says, “What causes it for me, is going at it for too long. Just writing, writing, writing, pounding out words, and never thinking about the story. Eventually, the words slow and the story’s edges look a little battered and charred. And they start closing in, choking the world and the characters, leaving them gasping for life. For rescue.
“Instead of keeping on writing and making those edges close in tighter, I walk away. I let the words float around in my head, I think about the story, how I want to shape it, where I want it to go. My world and characters might be left suffocating, but if we never suffocated, we’d never truly understanding the beauty of breathing. I relax, maybe have a cup of coffee, read a book, watch one of my favorite movies. I let my story suffocate for a time so when I push those battered, charred edges away, and it takes in a long, grateful gulp of air, it finds the beauty in that breath.”
Question 3) What strategies/tools do you use to overcome writer’s block?
Jewel says, “The best thing I can do with myself (and I’m not necessarily recommending this to others–we each have our own processes and have to find what works best for us) is to be patient and wait it out. If it’s a case of needing to patch a plot hole, find that character’s motivation, build a bridge for characters to get from point A to point B, I take my issues to my partner-in-crime, the mastermind behind the best parts of my books (AKA my husband). Sitting down to discuss the issues will normally result in a good resolution and then I can move on and get back to writing.
“When it comes to depression causing the writer’s block, I have to take a break from my writing. I know the general consensus from well-known, well-regarded writers is to write anyway. But for me, to write when I’m depressed, blocked, uninspired . . . is a recipe for disaster. The quality of my work takes a staggering hit and to write well below what I know I’m capable of only frustrates me more. I turn to other hobbies knowing that it’s a matter of time before things resolve and the faucet re-opens and I’m making up for lost time. 🙂 “
Briana says, “I make playlists for each of my WIPs, and that helps spark ideas sometimes. When I’m stuck, I also like to skip ahead to scenes I’m excited to write, parts of the novel I’ve had in mind since coming up with the initial idea. And of course, reading other people’s books always helps!”
Zac says, “As I said, I’ll read a book, watch one of my favorite movies, go do something else creative. I love photography, so that is something I use as an escape. Sometimes, I’ll grab my camera and walk outside, admiring and photographing the beauty of nature. And I also find talking to my writer/bookish friends helps. No always about my story, per se, but just talking to them about anything (often times about what we’re reading or their stories) helps. Brianna da Silva, Lena Tesla (my critique partner),Wendy Greene, H.M. (Hannah) Wilson, Nadine Brandes, Katie Grace, and Aimee Meester, are all lovely writers and friends who encourage and support me. There are so many others I could begin to name, but then it’d be hard for me to stop.
So my tools aren’t like most. They’re different. They’re personal. Rather than “tools” or “strategies,” I surround myself with my favorite things until I’m confident to dive back into my story again–which, with such great things to be surrounded by, doesn’t (always) take so long.”
I love the variety of answers we’ve got here! My current plan is to do an in-depth discussion of each question from my own perspective (and referring to this post and the perspectives of Jewel, Briana, and Zac). Would you be interested in making this a series?
How do you feel about this interview-style post?
Feel free to answer the above questions for yourself!
What is writer’s block, in your opinion?
What causes it?
What tools/strategies do you use to overcome it?
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