Friday, January 16, 2015

Blocking Writer's Block

The blank page taunts you like Scott Farkus from A Christmas Story. You want to write. You need to write. But you have nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. The big zero. What do you do?

We have all been there. I don't claim to be an expert by an stretch of the imagination, but I have found three things really help me block writer's block before it can claim my valuable writing time:

  • Leaving a writing prompt:  When I finish writing for the day, I leave myself a short writing prompt for the next day about the scene I want to write. It isn't anything elaborate, just a short sentence or two summarizing the scene that should come next, including the goal, motivation and conflict for the scene. This works for me because inertia takes over, and once I start writing the scene the next day, the forward progress plows over any weeds of writer's block.
  • Write or Die:  The Write or Die application forces you to keep your fingers moving with a little operant conditioning. You can set how aggressively you want the program to punish you, but if you don't accomplish a certain word count in a certain amount of time, you will pay the price (anything from annoying sounds to the program eating words). I love this program because it scares you into writing. Fear is a powerful motivator.
  • Playlists: I know what you are saying - Heather, making a play list is a way to procrastinate and not write. There is some truth in what you are saying, but my brain makes a connection between the songs I am listening to and what I am experiencing at the time. If I keep the play list lean and mean, it minimizes the writing time I lose putting it together and provides me with quick mental triggers to get back to the place I was when I was last writing.
What do you do to fight off writer's block?


Aidee Ladnier said...

Looooove Write or Die! It really gets my subconscious to sit up and put out.

I don't have as much luck with writing prompts. I know other writers use them, but when I leave notes for myself on where the story is supposed to go, when I start writing again, my characters immediately go the other way.

Great post!

Heather said...

Thanks Aidee! What setting do you use for Write or Die?

Aidee Ladnier said...

I have it set to start flashing red when I'm not typing fast enough and then slowly deleting my text. The first time I used it I almost had a heart attack -- but it was secretly keeping my words, so it was okay.

Cari Hislop said...

The last couple years my writing has malfunctioned due mainly to a thyroid problem. I couldn't write and then I think I got in an emotional rut where I was terrified of the stories waiting to be finished or something. In October or early November a friend of mine encouraged me to try writing something outside my normal genre. Instead of working on one of my many unfinished Regencies I started a Modern romance and since then I've written half a book. And I was really sick for two + weeks in December! I've never written this fast in my life. The next time I'm blocked I hope I remember to try something completely new.

I don't think I could do that Write or Die. It appeals to my love of the bizarre...I love the idea, but being someone who suffers from anxiety I might not survive the experiment! I might actually die! ;)

Heather said...

Cari that is great advice about writing something new, and congratulations on having half a book with your WIP. That is AWESOME!