Saturday, 11 August 2012

RJ Scott's Anniversary Blog Hop: Writer's Block - And How to Beat it...


RJ Scott's Anniversary Blog Hop: Beating The Block - and a Competition!

"Why don't you write proper stories!" my mum used to complain, "like the ones in Woman's Weekly and People's Friend!" Back then I was in my twenties with a toddler, a typewriter, and ideas that had focused on Greek and Roman history, or cowboys, or spaceships, since I was about ten. My years in my local grammar school did nothing to wean me off any of them, or my compulsion to create fiction. Quite the opposite - they reinforced my wish/need/hunger to write.

Unfortunately for Mum, the stories she wanted me to write were fluffy domestic romances featuring women who longed for a man in their life so they could keep house for him, cook his meals, bear his children, and after various misunderstandings and other setbacks, he would worship the ground she walked on because she was/would be the Perfect Wife and Mother.

Um, yes. So not my thing, then or now. There are lots of great authors out there filling that particular romance niche, with or without a spicing of erotica. Okay, I do write the occasional fluffy romance, but my leads are men - men who are not the straight person's usual conventional stereotype of gayness - and perfect wives and mothers do not feature.

I've learned a lot over the years - and I'm still learning. It's an ongoing process, and a hell of a lot of fun as well as hard work. Yes, sitting in front of a computer screen trying to create a believable story with sympathetic characters is hard work. Who'd have thought it?

Probably the hardest thing any writer has to deal with is the dreaded Writer's Block. This form of excruciating mental torture can take several forms - 1] the entire lack of any new ideas and the ensuing panic that causes, and 2] that infuriating gap between scenes where the characters aren't talking to you, and visualisations fails you, and 3] the frustration of having either the plot but not the lead characters, or the characters without a plot in which to chuck them.

The first thing is - DON'T PANIC!

There are all kinds of remedies for Creative Constipation, and the list below are tricks that work for me - usually. Once you've unlocked the log-jam, you're away and flying.

Gapgap. This is my personal favorite for when a scene just won't gel. You type gapgap after a paragraph break, and carry on with a scene that *does* want to be written. Any scene. It doesn't matter if the scenes aren't linear, you can sort that out later, and using the 'Find' function will take you to those gaps waiting to be filled when inspiration strikes.

Walking Helps.  Take your notepad or netbook on a stroll, and while you're walking, just let your mind freewheel. Put the problem right out of your head, and when  you end up at your favorite cafe or coffee shop, just write anything that comes into your head. The weather, the baristas, the couple over by the window - the dog towing its owner down the street. Anything that takes your fancy.

The Three-Word Prompt. Again, it doesn't have to fit in your blocked story. Either get your friends to throw random words at you, or go to a random word generator site and take what they have on offer, and write whatever those words suggest to you. I use this one - http://watchout4snakes.com/creativitytools/RandomWord/RandomWordPlus.aspx

Picture Prompts. The gods know there are thousands of pics out there, on Facebook, Tumblr and Royalty Free sites like http://dreamstime.com. You don't have to buy the pic, just save it in a Lightbox and use it as a springboard to a scene, an emotion, and write whatever it's saying to you.

The Last Resort. If all else fails, turn off your computer, close your notebook, put the story to one side and Do Not Think About It. Do something completely different. Weed the garden, do the ironing, mow the lawn, bake a cake, open a bottle of wine or beer and read that book you've been promising yourself you'll get round to one day. Inspiration will sneak up and bite you on the arse before you know it.

If you don't already, carry a notepad and pen with you everywhere you go, and have one close to your bed at night. Ideas can turn up in the early hours of the morning, or arrive between sleeping and waking.

Okay, those are my Break The Block tips - now for the chance to win an ebook. Tell me what Block-Breaker works for you, or share your story about being blocked, or just comment! and I'll pick a name at random to win a copy of my next release, Finders, Keepers, due out on August 25th.

The draw will take place on August 14th, and I'll forward the book on the Release Day.

Don't forget to leave me a contact address so I can let the winner know and have somewhere to send the ebook.



41 comments:

  1. I love how you say Don't Panic! I think that can apply to any job. As a teacher, every time I get in front of 30 kids or say I say the same thing and then I take it from there. Love your books! and looking forward to Finders, Keepers.
    Yvette
    yratpatrol@aol.com

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  2. i have also found walking helps with thinking. some of my BEST 'thinking moments' have been when i have been moving.

    great blog post!

    parisfan_ca@yahoo.com

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  3. Don't Panic should be the watchword for anyone writing...hugs you Chris... thanks for joining in! XXXX

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  4. Unfortunately you can't keep a pad of paper in the shower, which is where I seem to get the 'unblocking' ideas. LOL

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  5. Don't Panic...I love it...seeing as I tend to panic...a little. But cooking seems to always help me think...so I guess that falls under "The Last Resort" category. If I can't get past a certain point, I put everything down and cook. :)
    morris.crissy@gmail.com

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  6. I think the three word prompt is really good. I'm lucky because I've never - crosses fingers and looks for black cat - had writer's block but if I ever do, I'll go for opening a dictionary three times and letting my finger drop on a word. (Then keep doing it until I get the words I want!)
    bjel at btinternet dot com

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  7. Vicktor "Vic" Alexander11 August 2012 at 17:09

    I like the idea of gapgap. I may have to use that myself one day.


    I recently suffered from writer's block for about three months. It was the first time in my life when I couldn't write anything. Blog posts, poems, short stories, much less books all escaped me. So I read. I did a lot of reading. Copious amounts. And I watched tv. Lots of television. To the point where I joked that I was getting stupider and then one day on Skype with my best friend, Angel, who has known me since I was 14, he asked me why I was suffering from writer's block. "I don't know doofus." I told him. "Yes you do. You just don't want to think about it." So I thought back to when I'd first had that moment of writer's block and realized that it was on the birthday of my deceased fiance. There were also some other things that had occurred around that same time and I hadn't dealt with them. Once I acknowledged that was what was going on and allowed myself a moment to talk about it, my creative juices started flowing and within three months I wrote/finished seven books and had six of them published. Sometimes it's as simple as acknowledging some situation that may seem small, some hurt that we brushed off, for that writer's block to be destroyed.


    Good post. I've got a few more ideas on how to handle the dreaded WB if and when it happens again.


    vicktorabailey@yahoo.com

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  8. I don't ever write fiction but as a senior at university I sure do write a lot! When you are writing academic articles it is a touch different so things like the 3 word or picture prompt don't work for me! So I do the Last Resort. I just shut down the computer put away all of my terribly boring source material and leave for a bit. A nice cup of tea, some music, even a little Law and Order destresses me. Then I come back and get the job done! Thanks for the post and participating with RJ's hop!
    OceanAkers @ aol.com

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  9. I don't ever write but I do read A LOT! I am soooo glad you all share ideas about how to overcome writers block...we really really think that is evil. LOL. I love your idea about putting gapgap then moving on and coming back. Smart! Would love to win! LOL
    evelynmoly@yahoo.com

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  10. Thanks for the great advice! It takes me a while to fall asleep at night, so I tend to get ideas then. I ask myself a lot of "what if" questions and just wait for scenes to play out. I've gotten pretty good at jotting down notes in the dark. Sometimes I wake up and there's something scribbled on a notepad I don't even remember having written!
    madisonparklove@gmail.com

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  11. Thanks for an intersting post. Don't add me into the draw as I have already pre ordered Finders Keepers, i'm looking forward to reading it

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  12. I read way too much >.> But we all have to have some sort of vice ;) thank you so much for your advice!!

    Kassandra
    sionedkla@gmail.com

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  13. Since I am not a writer I guess I have a permanent blockage and not enough desire to break it down. Way too busy reading.

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  14. I will have to try some of those tips when writing my papers for school! LOL Thanks
    forettarose@yahoo.com

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  15. These tips are good ones and helpful for writing for school, for work, etc. Thanks for your giveaway.




    strive4bst at yahoo dot com

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  16. Great tips, I'll have to try them for writing essays.

    moonsurfer123 at gmail dot com

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  17. I created an M/M Sprint Club on facebook and that has helped me like nothing else to break past the blockage. I decide to do three sets of 30 minutes of writing (of my VIP) and report in with word count in between (when I take 10 minute breaks). The time can vary, I just have to decide before I start. It's an excellent way! Plow through, that's what Cassandra Claire said.

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  18. I'll have to try the tips when writting my papers for school.

    elaynelost(at)yahoo(dot)de

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  19. Gapgap is such a good idea! I usually switch to doing something more physical when I'm blocked--I especially like baking from a recipe I know well and don't have to think about much.

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  20. Awesome advice Chris! I like the gapgap too. I might try that. lol I love your covers *sigh* I look forward to reading your books too!

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  21. That gapgap has got me out of tight corners lots of times! Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  22. Cooking is good - as long as I don't have to do it LOL! Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  23. The tips should work for most forms of writing. Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  24. A Sprint Club can work really well - but not for me. I'm constantly revising and it's hard to stop doing that. Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  25. Hope they work for you *g*. Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  26. There are some useful suggestions in the comments as well *g*. Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  27. Fingers crossed they'll work for your school papers as well *g*! Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  28. LOL! I hear you, Nancy. If I get too caught up with my TBR stack, I'll never get another word written. Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  29. Reading? A vice? Never *hg*! Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  30. Thanks, Josie *g*. And thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  31. LOL! With me, it's often a case of not being able to read the appalling scribble - like a drunken spider escaping from an inkwell and staggering all over the page. Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  32. that gapgap trick has helped me a lot over the years *g*. Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  33. Tea! Almost as good as the gapgap *g*. Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  34. *nods* A long period of Blockage can have you climbing the walls. And the trouble is, the more stressed you get about not writing, the worse the block becomes. Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  35. You are *so* lucky, and I'll keep my fingers crossed that you haven't jinxed yourself. And dictionaries work just as well as random word generators *g*. Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  36. Another cook! LOL - that's something my family would rather I didn't do! Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop - and YOU'VE WON! I'll be in touch.

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  37. LOL - surely there must be something that'll let you scribble on the tiles? And wipe off again, of course. Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  38. Now that would make a neat tattoo, Oh Anonymous One *hg*

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  39. Yes, it does! On my way down to the coffee shop, I sometimes have to stop and scribble a note in case I forget it by the time I'm sitting down with my cuppa *g*. Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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  40. Panic usually makes a bad situation worse, in most circumstances *g*. Thanks for joining in RJ's blog hop.

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