Friday, July 3, 2015

Writer Rooter – Clearing Writer’s Block

We all hit writers’ block at some point in time. What do you do to get out of it and move the story forward?

by Paul D. Marks
writersblock a
Here’s what I do when I get writer’s block:
I Write.

And when I have no more to say, here’s what I do then:

I Write.

And when I hit that wall again, this is what I do:

I Write.

This question is similar to one we had awhile back, but I’ll try to be fresh with my response. But not fresh in the way my mom would call me when I was a kid mouthing off.

I don’t really get writer’s block. Only the one time that I mentioned a few weeks ago, where I wound up down in Palm Desert, playing with index cards—what else is there to play with?—while working on a script that wouldn’t come together.

What I do get is time block. That is, I find that while what I want to be doing is writing, everything else seems to get in the way. Taking the dogs out, which I love. Doing edits on an anthology, which I love. Trying to get this or that working around the house, which I—okay, I don’t love that so much. I love when they’re working though. Goofing off on YouTube, watching old bands like the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Dylan (okay, he’s not a band unless he’s with the Band and he’s not always with the Band so it depends what year or era the clip is from as to whether he’s a band or not), which I love. Or watching newer bands on You Tube, like Of Monsters and Men and The Dark Shadows, which I love. Or in between bands, like the Ramones and the Clash, which I love. Hey, it’s better, well easier than writing anyway.

John Lennon Busy Making Other Plans
But there are real things that come up that take time away from writing, but what the hell. Life happens and you gotta deal with that too. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”— even plans to write.

On the rare occasions that I might get mild writer’s block there’s a couple things I do. I’d mentioned taking drives before, hanging out, all that stuff. But I also might take a day or a week off from that particular project and work on something else. Or play. And even though I might not be thinking about it in the forefront of my mind, my brain is working in the background so that when I do sit down later I will probably be able to get on with it. Sometimes I’ll take a shower—I get a lot of good ideas in the shower. But taking a shower these days is illegal, or close to it, at least if you live in California. So if you’re planning on visiting bring a rebreather.

And if I’m still stuck, one thing I do is just write. Write anything. Let it flow. Let my characters talk and walk, stream of consciousness, and it doesn’t matter if I use any of this stuff because I’m seeing who they are, what they want, where they’re going, etc. And from that the floodgates open to the point where I’m back on track, having just the swellest of times at the keyboard.

C&HThe bottom line is that writing is a job. And just like any other job or a job where you punch a time clock I just have to be there. I have to sit myself down in a chair, stare at the screen and let my fingers do the walking. Eventually something worthwhile (well, hopefully worthwhile) will come out. Try it. I promise you it works. And if it doesn’t work, your money back. Ten times your money back.


Happy Fourth of July everyone from the folks here at Criminal Minds:

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Alan Orloff said...

I'm with you, Paul. I just sit down and bang the keyboard. Sometimes the words come easier than others, but hey, it's all got to be rewritten anyway, right?

Happy Fourth of July to you, too!

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Alan. It's all in the rewriting as far as I'm concerned (as a pantster), so I definitely agree with you there.

And a Happy Fourth!

I am not a robot!

Susan C Shea said...

I wish I worked that way. I try too hard to get the right words on the first pass, I think. Good post, good plan!

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Susan. It works for me. But I guess we all have to do what works for us. Have a good Fourth.

Mary T Bradford said...

I agree with the above. When I find I am struggling with a project, I distract myself and this in my opinion, gives my overworked mind a chance to relax about the bothersome project. Then when I return to it, the mind is ready to tackle whatever I need to. A good post, Paul. I enjoyed it.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Mary, glad you enjoyed it.

Robin Spano said...

Oh man. You've really figured out how to do this job. Great post. As always.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks, Robin!