Sunday, March 23, 2014

A question raised.....

'Writers Block' - an expression probably all of us have heard of, and a large portion may well of encountered. So, how do you cope with it, master it or over come it?

It appears that there is no singular tried and tested universal solution to this condition - so I trawled the internet to see how other authors have overcome the dreaded 'block'. There are some methods that I couldn't possibly repeat, others that I looked at quizzically, and one or two that were pretty close to self abuse.

There are numerous different methodologies out there so I figure I'll just talk about mine and let you decide.

Firstly, I need to quantify where I sit as an 'Author'; I write books in my spare time. I have a fairly demanding full time job, a family, bills to pay etc just like everyone else so my writing is purely for therapy, sorry, I mean passion. I do love to sit down in my own 'zone', oblivious to the world around, and let my fingers bash the keys of the laptop and my mind throw ideas, plots, characters around. In other words my livelihood is not dependent upon my writing. Strangely I find this a key element to being able to write freely. Typically, last night I sat after dinner and just stepped into the zone. A whole new novel started taking shape within a matter of moments and before I knew it there were over 2000 words in front of me. I even did a second pass edit on those 2000 words and scribed a few notes for future reference. I've just finished the short story we've already discussed and Russian Redemption 2 still sits at 30,000 words. This to me is a freedom that I love and one that only comes because I write without the pressures of having to. I actually suffer the very opposite of writers block, lets call it writers diarrhoea. 

That said, I do hit junctions where I'm not sure of the right direction to take the story. I've discovered that characters can take the original planned story line off on all sorts of tangents as they themselves develop inside the story, but this is great fun. When I reach one of these junctions I tend to step away from the story; I don't stop writing, I just stop writing that particular story. A portion of my brain is assigned to run simulations in the back ground and I'll get on with my usual day until such time as my brain gives me the solution. One of the other things I have discovered on this journey is that idea's come from anywhere, and at any time, there is no formula. My recommendation is that when an idea makes itself known grab it with both hands and write it down, somewhere, anywhere but do write it down. It may not be an idea that suits your story right now, but you never know what is around the corner. If you let it go by unclaimed someone else will grab it!

I believe writers block is brought about by thinking too hard, trying to hard. Writing is an art form, a good story is a form of art. This again is why I love the whole Indie experience - I push myself to produce the very best that I can, but I don't push myself so hard that it becomes a chore; wheres the fun in that?! I'm also writing a lot of different stories, you'll be surprised how often a problem in one story is resolved by the natural progression of another, it's the way a brain works. 

I suppose then that 'Writers Block' is something that's never really effected me, long before I reach that point of frustration or idea blocking anger I move away - the best way to avoid trouble is not be there!

Would I be able to do this if my livelihood depended on it? Probably not. But this is why the 'Indie' route has so much appeal. One day my books and stories may well provide an income that I can live off but I can't see me giving up my day job, I'm not sure that I'd want to. Where would I escape to then?


  1. Haha. I like your last sentence, Andrew, but as one who has made a living for years from copywriting and also teaching writing, I have never had a problem with writer's block. The main point, though, is that my escape writing is totally different from my work writing, so it is still an escape :)

  2. That's a great point Val, and one which I hadn't considered. So you have 'recreational writing' which is just for fun and 'work' writing which is, well, work?

  3. Exactly, and in a way, the one helps the other, because if you have to write to order for your job, it's easier to make yourself just write even when you don't feel terribly inspired. I knew a script writer once who said 'don't get it right, get it written'. It's been a useful tip for me many times.