I have 3 novels in progress and basically know where each one is going. My problem is that I’m avoiding writing at all costs and without sound reason. The Nike catch phrase has never worked on me. So, besides that, any suggestions on how to re-engage and start moving forward again? I will admit that some of the problem I’m having is getting control over the imported text and finding a sense of structure that will allow me to get back to just writing the stories.
With no other information to go on, I’d say, first of all, set two of the novels aside and work on the third only, at least until it starts to go someplace.
Ask yourself why you want these novels to be in the world.
And allow yourself not to write at all. This is what I use to say to people who mail me, begging “please make me write”: You don’t have to. The last thing the world needs is another book.
Only maybe you need this book. This is why you should examine what you really want.
Get very angry with whatever it was that needled you into starting one of these books in the first place. Then try to assuage that anger by writing.
Whatever happened to the “all night bender” fix for “block” (even us cinderblock dorks need to relax every now and again to get things moving)?
Of course not everyone imbibes the sweet fermented nectar of Bacchus nor do I necessarily suggest that particular method of “bending all night” but the point is there. Spend an intentionally intense, finite time dong something that really gets you going. Movie, night with the planet revolver, short trip to luxury golf course, something. Make a point of NOT THINKING. Just have a good time. Next day, give the book another shot. Worst case scenario you are happy to have some great memories.
While all the posts are helpful, the last was a bit ironic. Before I stopped writing, I was to the point were writing for an hour everyday was my Entertainment. I keep surprising myself as each scene flushed itself out and told me what needed to happened next. It was better than going to the movies. I think that’s what stopped me.
Which is to say that pleasure became work and lost its appeal. Now that it is workish it is harder.
As a “hobby” writer I am familiar with this problem. My solution is to remember that my writing is a hobby, not an obsession. Writing does not feed me, the wife, or the kids. It does not rule me I rule it. I can leave it when I want and come back when I please. When I forget to think like this the words stop coming.
Just a thought.
Wow, this a great forum. More on this tread is welcome, however, are there any ideas on how I can utilize Scrivner’s features to enhance the creative flow?
Hi. Sorry, I haven’t used Scrivener enough to give you an answer to your more narrow question, but as to the first question, I’d say: find one of the protagonists of one of the three novels, and ask yourself “what is so interesting about this person?” Why do we care about this little darling of yours? Has this character really suffered enough? Is there some true, compelling conflict here? How does it end? Is it really an exciting or revealing story? Does it move? Where did the character go? Why did he end up there? And, again, why should we care about this character and his or her journey? What makes this story so special?
Then, as mentioned by others, I’d pick up the one story that compels you, set aside the other two, get drunk, play a round of golf, do the dishes and see if anything develops. Are you having structural, thematic or resolution issues? Maybe something like Power Structure or Dramatica Theory will force you to re-evaluate the story and ask yourself some hard questions. Right now I’m using Ansen Dibell’s Plot for just the same reason. To force myself to ask hard questions about where I think my story is going. (I’m a great starter and awesome world-builder, but I’m working on learning to finish, and working on being able to throw stuff away, not just write on “inspiration” alone).
Good Luck to You and Cheers!
KB is working on a beer/cheese doodle dispenser but he keeps pushing back the delivery date.
Since you and I are similarly plagued, here is what I have done on occasion.
Take a snapshot of a significant scene/document (or duplicate it) and then take it in a completely different direction. Kill the hero, make the nun the evil one, hook the bad girl up with the good guy.
Write a short story about a minor character or plot point. Just something you can use for character/plot development. Worst case scenario you have a bit more material.
Watch a movie. Scriv can play quicktime mov files. Not that it is really writing but it is a feature!
Is there anything else that has been rattling around in your head? Working on something else entirely helps me some times. I’ve been taking some long (for me) bike rides lately, and have been allowing myself to zone out. I think this is letting my subconcious have a little extra processing time, for a few words have begun to rise out of the mirk.
The best cure I’ve ever found for writer’s block, or whatever it’s called, is to take a walk. Sitting in a chair attempting to force words through your fingers works only as long as they’re flowing. For some reason, going for a walk–Hawthorne did it, Thoreau did it, Montaigne did it, Hazlitt did it–helps cure the sclerosis.
Just remember to take along a pocketful of index cards and a pen.
I must agree. Mundane activities - the things I might as well be doing instead of sitting in the chair waiting for the lightning bolt - like taking the dog for that hour-long walk, or cleaning up the house and doing the dishes: those things always help me to get unblocked. If plot is a verb, sitting is not a very active one. Sometimes it just helps to pull the blinds and “pretend” or “act out” a scene, just like you would if you were six again. I think movement unblocks the sludge, and allows the plot to flow. A daily walk also makes it easier on my body to spend long hours at the desk, too. Cheers.
This Helped Me
What has worked best for me in the past is having people who Wan to read what I wrote, even it it’s only a days work. Used to belong to a writers group, which helps, but not in the same way of someone just wanting to see what I’ve written lately. Haven’t had this since my divorce 5 years ago. I have many friends who are also professional writers, but they’re too busy with their lives to feed my ego.
I do have moments where I try to avoid writing at seemingly all costs. I notice it, clearly, and am somehow not really able to overcome it - until recently. I began thinking about why it was that I didn’t want to write and the answer was a simple as it was obvious.
I didn’t know what to write.
I realized that this kind of block always happened when I was working on parts of my stories where I was unclear exactly what was going to happen or how things should play out. There were to many variables in the mix and I didn’t want to commit either way by actually beginning to write.
I found the cure was really to properly think through the scenes in question and decide in my mind how I want them to play out. Some off-time sometimes helped, giving me the head space to think it through, but once in a while it was just a good old kick in my own butt that was required, forcing me to commit one way or the other.
Interview one of your characters at the keyboard. Write down everything. Do this for 30 minutes without stopping and without censoring. Find out what is going on with your character. Ask personal questions, ask mundane questions, ask what they think about the current political situation in X country and the natural disaster in Y country.
90% of the stuff you type will be “useless” to the story but get you excited about your characters again. There might also be a nugget there that explains where you “went wrong.” Sometimes, you need to switch the direction of the story to make it work. Sometimes the character is just boring and has to get fired as the MC.
The alternative is duct tape. You hire somebody to duct tape you to your chair for thirty minutes with only a word processor… no other access. Get a piece of software to limit you if you have to. Do this daily. Just be sure you didn’t drink an entire pot of coffee before being duct-taped or you will be distracted.
I’ve never found forced writing to be particularly good writing. Take a little time off. Daydream about your characters.
I like Apollo16’s idea about interviewing the character.
Find a throwaway character in your book, one whose story is irrelevant to moving the plot forward, and write his or her backstory. Bring the character right up until the story meets the main plot. It’s fun, it’s completely unnecessary, and sometimes it suggests a new way to take the main plot too.
These are great ideas. I might try these the next time I’m kind of running dry of plot ideas, actually, rather than when I refuse to write.
You may have something, Guido. I’ve always been okay with the beginning and the end, but horrible when it comes to getting one to meet the other.
I’m wondering if any of you have tried hypnosis to get over writers block? Did it work?
Things like cognitive Behaviour therapy are also said to help with writers procrastination.