A Simple Solution to Writer’s Block

“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.” ~Terry Pratchett

Amy J. Romine (@IWrite) shared this quotation on Twitter recently. I read it and cracked up.

Why?

I’m a native Californian who recently blasted her way through Second Book Syndrome.

What is that? It’s an affliction that affects many first-time authors who are contracted or have a debut novel out and are working on (or attempting to work on) their next books. Basically it’s an advanced case of Writer’s Block.

What are the symptoms?

The primary symptom is a blank look while sitting in front of a blank screen.

What are the underlying causes?

Fear. Doubt. Uncertainty.

What is the solution?

Write.

Write, you say? Even though the creative well is dry? Why?

Since one of the causes of writers block is fear, forcing ourselves to produce words when we’re feeling parched is akin to a rider getting back on a horse after she’s been thrown off. Splash some words on the page. Even if the outcome is dreck, we’re writing.

Gradually the subconscious will take over, ousting the overactive conscious, and the words will begin to flow. They might come slowly at first, but don’t be surprised if a trickle turns into a torrent.

Does this technique work?

Yup! I sat at my computer and eeked out 250 words one day last week—slow, painfully wrought words. I worked my way up to 1,000 a day and maintained that pace for several days running, restoring my confidence. Just this week I had a 2,500 word day, and boy did that feel good! I proved Writer’s Block can be overcome—even by a Californian.

Do you ever suffer from Writer’s Block?

How do you work your way through it?

Or do you think Writer’s Block is a myth?

Image from Wikimedia Commons
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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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22 Responses to A Simple Solution to Writer’s Block

  1. Sherrinda says:

    Oh, I love your new banner! Words make me smile. 🙂

    And yes, I have the occasional writer’s block and you are right, you just have to force yourself to write. It’s hard, but that is what it takes. Fear can be so paralyzing, and you must conquer it. Easier said than done, but you proved it! 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Thanks for the compliment, Sherrinda. I took the picture myself. I’m going to try to get one with a whiter look to it, though, but it’s been overcast the past few days. Once there’s sun, I’ll try again.

      Fear and doubt. If only I could oust them permanently. All the more reason to pray, right?

  2. Jessica says:

    I think it’s a myth. It should be called (as you said) writer’s fear. Because it’s not that we’re blocked or out of ideas, we’re just afraid to try a new idea out. I haven’t been blocked ever, but I’ve been afraid countless times.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Jessie, you nailed it. Most of the time the reason I sit paralyzed in front of the computer screen is because of fears and doubts. I can write. I’m just afraid I’ll produce pathetic prose.

  3. Other symptoms include: constantly being diverted to reading blogs, checking email, surfing the web (under the guise of research), getting a snack, revising the same opening chapter a dozen times, feeling too tired, doing laundry, washing dishes, calling your mother, finishing just one last chapter of that YA novel in the bathroom, and reading every single word on every page of the SCBWI Bulletin or any other writer’s magazine for that matter. If you’re doing any of the above and NOT writing, then you’ve got writers block alright. The cure? I don’t know. I haven’t found one yet. If I did, I wouldn’t be commenting on this blog instead of writing right now.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment, Laurisa.

      Your list is awesome. I chuckled my way through it. I know I’ve got a bad case of writer’s block when I take an interest in cleaning house. 🙂

  4. I don’t know if I’ve had writer’s block on this latest book, but I’ll definitely say I was in a funk. I finally had to go back to my outline, story arc, and GMC. I think I couldn’t write because the story wasn’t working. Weak, goals, motivations and conflict will make it almost impossible to write.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Julie, getting the foundational elements in place really helps, doesn’t it? I hope your story is moving along nicely now that you’ve taken time to do that.

  5. candidkerry says:

    LOL! I just posted something on FB about this — I was cleaning bathrooms yesterday and the ideas were flowing like water in the shower. 🙂 Funny how water seems to do that. (I love that writer’s block quote; mind if I blog-borrow?) 🙂

    I’m not sure writer’s block actually exists, but it’s good to have a name for that hesitation, uncertainty, dried-up-creativity period that all writers experience from time to time. I’ve been there, too, and like you said, the best thing is to push through it. 250 words is still 250 words!

    Taking a couple hours to read every other day alleviates the creative block, at least for me. Getting swept up in a sweet romance or humorous story always inspires me to put my fingers to the keyboard, too. Taking long walks also gets those creative juices flowing.

    And when all else fails, pull out a piece of chocolate to keep you company while staring at the blank screen. 😉

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Borrow away, Kerry. It’s a fun quote, one that really did have me laughing out loud.

      Sounds like we have some things in common. Some of my best ideas come when I’m in the shower or on a walk.

  6. the writ and the wrote says:

    I’m dealing with writer’s block right now and I have no idea how to overcome, other than to write, even if what I think comes out is crap. I was in California (Los Angeles) this past weekend and I realized how much I missed it, but I’m not sure I want to go back. I’m torn.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      I’m sorry you’re being plagued by writer’s block, Brianna. I think you’re wise to write, even if what you’re producing isn’t as polished as you’d like. We can’t edit a blank page, but once there’s something on it, we can make it better, right?

      I’m smiling about your Los Angeles comment. I was born in the L.A. area, but I’ve lived in Northern California most of my life and have no desire to return to SoCal and the smog. I’ll take my Sierra Foothills and fresh air any day. Plus Lake Tahoe’s only an hour away. Talk about beauty!

    • Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

      I don´t think that anything you write will be crap, for it comes from your soul and mind. 🙂

  7. Wendy says:

    I had a tinge of this after my dad died. It was the fear that I couldn’t get back in the game. But you are so right about the trickle becoming a torrent. So much of it is just starting. Even if the words come out ugly, stumbling…at least you are getting them out.

    ~ Wendy

    • Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

      I am very sorry for your loss, Wendy. Sometimes we need to slow down in our lives, to give ourselves a time of grieving and then healing. And it`s only natural that in such times words are difficult to say and to write.

      But I also have made the experience that after such a time doing something creative like writing or painting helps to get over things, helps the healing and helps us to look ahead an into a new morning again. And in these moments we may get a glimpse of the light the ones who have left us walk in.

  8. I agree with Jessica. The other one, not myself! I think fear can leave you gaping at the screen–fear you can’t do better than last time (at least for me) but the ideas are always back there waiting to gush forth. Congrats on bursting through the dam and spilling onto the page!

  9. This post had me chuckling a few times, Keli. 😉 For me, it’s not so much Writer’s Block as it is “Writer’s Confusion” LOL! If I’ve gotten away from my WIP for a matter of days (or a week or so) and don’t have my notes in front of me, I either head in too many directions with the story, or can barely eek out any words on the screen. I feel confused and frustrated. So, of course this shows me that I need to write on a regular basis and keep my notes/outline handy. 🙂 Thanks for sharing (and WOW! 2500 words in one day is terrific!!!).

  10. LOL, I love that quote, Keli. Hilarious!

    Oh boy, writers block has been my friend (or enemy) for the last few months. Just recently I’ve found myself breaking free from it, and it’s because of the very same reason. I’m making myself write. Whether I’m cliche’ing all over the place or telling or I know that I’ll have to rewrite half of it, it’s gotten the flow going. And it feel sooo good! 🙂 Congrats on your big wordcount day!

  11. Oops, I meant to say *feels* sooo good. 🙂

  12. Erin says:

    Hi Keli! Loved your post on Rachelle’s blog today!! And, I TOTALLY get writer’s block sometimes. My issue isn’t that I can’t get words on paper… it’s that the words are SO boring. Since I write non-fiction, sometimes I’ll go back and read the last few pages I wrote and realize that the words have been dictionary-dull and without life. So, I’ll have to toss them and rewrite them.

  13. Martina Bedregal Calderón says:

    First let me say that I really love the picture you put here of the running creek/river. I can almost hear the sining of the water and smell the wonderful fragrances of the green trees and bushes beside it and feel a mild afternoon breeze.

    When I am not up for writing, I just do something else like painting or listening to music, and then the ideas for writing come again. But most of the time I can write, and I write everywhere…lol. I always have a booklet and a pen with me and write down thoughts and feelings (sometimes in fragments), and then I use them later in my stories. Most of the stories I write are handwritten first, and I often write in weird places like waiting rooms for a doctor´s appointment, while I wait for an appointment in an office, at the lady’s room (haha), in restaurants, sitting in trees or at the beach. I started writing one story while being connected to an intravenous infusion in a hospital…haha.

  14. Angelica says:

    Hi, I just found your blog through your guest post on Rochelle Gardner’s blog. The title of your book caught my attention, because I live just downhill from El Dorado. My current WIP is set in a fictional foothill town (an amalgamation of Placerville, Sutter Creek, and Ione with Preston Castle). There’s so much local history, and unique locales, to inspire us! Looking forward to checking out your book.

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