Friday, August 1, 2014

Writer's Block

Every writer has it from time to time. It's the polar opposite of feeling your muse and it sucks. I'm talking about writer's block. Erectile dysfunction of the brain. You know, it's when you sit there looking at a blank page and the cursor is blinking hey you! I'm waiting.

Facebook is not your friend. Twitter will distract you. The TV remote will beg you to pick it up and press the one button that can pull you into countless hours of mindless notwritingness.

Unless there happens to be a good western on. Everyone knows watching westerns is research, but be forewarned: if there's not a western on you can bet once you pop that guide onto the screen you'll find something, anything, to keep you occupied. If you're not careful you may end up watching a Cops marathon, and anyone who's never been arrested knows how addictive that can be.

I've been working on the sequel to my first novel, The Night Train, and for the last few days it's been going nowhere. I know I can do it. No doubt I'll finish, but being stuck is driving me nuts. It's like my characters are on strike.

Readers (and I mean the readers who don't also write), I'd bet the farm you have no idea how much time goes into creating that book you just read. If the author did his or her job (notice how I was gender-friendly just then?) you'll never suspect a thing. Words will flow from sentence to sentence, paragraph to paragraph, page to page, like a delicious romp through imaginationville. You won't have to sit for hours, days, wondering what the next page has in store. And that's how it should be.

Writing is a very fulfilling endeavor, but like most things worth doing, it is labor intensive, emotionally challenging, and, ultimately, worth every minute expended.

Sometimes when I get writer's block I take a break and do something different, like ride my motorcycle or do a chore around the house (last resort stuff right there). Sometimes I write a blog post and hope it breaks the word dam.

Writers, what are some of the things you do to cure writer's block?

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  1. I've believed since the '90s that writers can "write" themselves through any block. Think of a the story as it has come to the point of the block; think of a long-ahead part to the story and wonder imaginatively, or impishly, how the characters shall get there. If those methods don't work, pick out a dozen or twenty novels from your bookshelf, and open each to a random page, read a single paragraph, think about the imagery and story as it is contained in that short moment, then go to the next book. I defy any WRITER to not find inspiration from that exercise.

    Good luck, Carl (and all those "blocked" authors).

    Mark Beyer
    "Max, the blind guy" on sale December 2014

    1. Very good suggestions, Mark, especially the random pages from other novels. Never thought of that. What I did do, however, is change my writing space. Moved it, actually, from a detached building into a spare bedroom (after we cleaned out a corner). The change did some good, I think, because this morning I've already hammered out the next scene.