How to Use Writer's Block to Fuel Your Writing

For those of you following the saga of my long bout with a old story, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve finished said story and it’s ready for a final proof.

The Six Reasons to Finish My Story really helped me get focused on pushing to the finish line and putting the tale to rest. I have no idea if it’s a good story, but it’s done and I’m happy.

Now, if you thought I was having a hard time of it, you should check out this post by Crawford Kilian about Getting Over Writer’s Block:

Well, I’ve certainly written myself into some blind alleys. About 40 years ago I was on fire to write an SF novel. I bashed out about 100 pages and stopped dead. It took me almost a decade to get a grip and finish the novel, which was published in 1978.

Kilian’s recommendation are fantastic. I highly recommend that folks drop by and take a look. Here are several ways I try to use writer’s block to fuel my work.

How I Use Writers Block

1. I get angry.

Not finishing something is incredibly frustrating. I usually go through stages of denial, anger, acceptance, anger… Did I say anger?

Anger seems to be the one emotion that really pushes me over the edge and forces me back to the keyboard. Writing angry gets me to toss out all of the garbage between me and the story. Eventually, I run out of steam and then the story becomes quite clear. The stuff that comes out of angry writing sessions is hardly usable, but that’s not the point. The point is that I get past whatever it is that is holding me back.

2. I write another story.

Technically, this is still writer’s block. However, the block that occurs on story A may open up a new angle on story B. If I can’t get angry about a story that’s stalled, I set it aside and try to keep moving forward.

3. I open up to others.

Writer’s block tends to be a lonely affair, but there is nothing wrong with asking for help. The opinions of others can be very useful in working through the block. They may not lead me in the right direction but often I get to talking about the story in an objective manner and suddenly I’m at the same place I would have gone if I’d gotten angry.

4. I write blog posts like this one.

Again, trying to get past a block is often about losing yourself in some activity or another. I’ve found that dropping out to write posts is helpful. At the moment, I’m not really suffering a true block on anything in particular…

“Oh, that really isn’t true. Is it?”
[sigh] No, I’m afraid it isn’t true. I’m blocked on something I really want to get back to and finish. It’s a YA novel I started in 2006. I was writing this book for my son and I ended up writing myself into a bit of a corner. Rather than work through it, I set it aside and haven’t gone back. Beating the crap out of myself hasn’t helped much on this one and neither has working on other stories.

5. I learn to love what I write.

While forcing myself through a block often gets the work done, the best route through the block is and has always been embracing stories with my entire being. I can’t be afraid of how good the story might be or how much it means to me. I have to love the story as one would love a child. And just like raising children, I have to accept that my role is getting the story to the point where it can stand on its own and I, like a proud parent, can marvel at the direction the story goes on its own.

2 thoughts on “How to Use Writer's Block to Fuel Your Writing

  1. Woot! I’m not the only one who flip flops between stories thanks to writer’s block. It seems counterproductive, doesn’t it, but it truly helps sometimes.

    I’ve found when all else fails, it can help to either take some time out to appreciate someone else’s work whether it’s a novel, movie, or music, or to give another form of creativity a try. Fly or fail, nothing seems to bust through writer’s block better than getting the imagination running on something, anything, whether it’s writing something else, making up a silly tune to entertain your children, drawing, or even making up a new recipe. Though the last one there might not be so great for your waistline if you have an overgrown sweet tooth. 🙂

    Great post.

  2. Thanks A.B.!

    I’m definitely tuned into other forms of artistic/creative expression as a means for dealing with a block. My favorite is drawing though I’ve been known to cook with mixed results.

    Sweet and Sour Ravioli was an experience my wife has never allowed me to forget. 🙂

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