Archive | 11:31 AM

Library Writers Group: Writers Block

7 May

Though our writers group moderator moved to a new library, my writers group lives on. One of our members was so upset that our meeting was canceled that he offered to run it himself. We talked about writer’s block; the different kinds there are and ways that we overcome them.

We used this article to guide our discussion. We all read through the types of writers block and talked about a few of them. I suffer from number 10, “You’re revising your work, and you can’t see your way past all those blocks o text you already wrote.” I hesitate to keep writing because that means I have to keep editing and I’m not a great editor. It takes me ages to edit something I wrote in a day. I have to force myself to do it and then it’s not fun anymore. Any advice?

We got a chance to talk through a couple other member’s problems. The firsts one was the fifth type, “You have a terrible feeling your story took a wrong turn a hundred pages back and you only just hit a dead-end.” This can be crippling because you feel stuck in a corner and that there’s no way out. You lose motivation to write because you’re frustrated with yourself and you have to go back and fix things. A fix someone suggested was skipping to where you want your story to be and keep writing. Make a few notes to yourself about what changed, but fix it in editing. Get the words out there. Some people write the ending first so that they know what they’re working toward (I’ve heard J.K. Rowling worked Harry Potter this way). Another thing to do, which works well if you’re outlining, is to skip between scenes when you’re stuck. Is the intro bogging you down? Jump right to the rising action and go back later.

Someone brought up knowing where you want your story to go, and not knowing how to get it there. They said it was the difference between knowing the road and driving the road. It so happens that I’d just gotten back from a four mile run before this meeting and it struck me how different driving and running the same road can be. When you’re driving, you know where lanes appear and disappear, where passing zones are and what the pattern of the traffic light will be. When you’re running, you’re aware of these things but you also see a pretty flower box or notice the name of a neighborhood. You don’t notice these details when you are driving quickly past. I felt this was a good comparison between outlining and writing. Sometimes the details give you a different impression of a road you’ve seen a hundred times before.

The next type of writers block we talked about was number six, “You’re bored with all these characters, they won’t do anything.” Personally I’ve never run into this. I create the characters, they do what I want them to do and what I’ve set out for them to do in my outline. I understand this is a common problem for a lot of writers, so I sat back and took notes during this section. One thing I’ve heard before on this topic is that because we usually write¬†characters based on people we know, it’s possible to call those people and ask them what they’d do in a similar situation. It gives the writer an idea if you had nothing going before. Another suggestion¬†is to make something bad happen to the character from some outside source. Maybe his car is stolen or her arm is broken in a slip and fall accident. This can push characters to do something they wouldn’t otherwise and help drive your plot forward. There are some times when this problem develops because the writer doesn’t know his characters well enough and hasn’t delved into their personalities well. Sometimes it helps to write a scene that won’t be in the book but lets you explore the personalities. I know I’ve done this with some of my characters and it’s helped a lot!

That was about all we had time to talk about. Our conversation kept getting off track with people talking about their own projects. It was really bad some times. I wonder if all writers are egotistical like this. Would we rather talk about what we’ve written and any success we’ve seen than help each other? I sure hope not.

What kind of writers block do you suffer from? Anything in particular help you when you’re experiencing it? Leave a comment and share your wisdom!

Until next time, write on.

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