fummeltunte's picture
fummeltunte from Seattle is reading The Left Hand of Darkness October 9, 2011 - 5:18am

What are your ways of fighting writer's block? Anything from debilitating "I can't write a single thing to save my life" to just being stuck on a particular story/ project. 

Some things I do are:

  • Pacing around in my apartment or exercising. For some reason, I'm able to think of stuff better while I'm moving.
  • Washing dishes. When I'm on autopilot, I'm more likely to imagine scenarios.
  • Freewriting. I use Ommwriter to put me in a nice, relaxing typing environment.
  • Writing in public. Sometimes people-watching will give me ideas for characters.
  • Reading. Simply aspiring to be like my mentors and admired authors gets me outta bed and writing.

What are your techniques? 

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 9, 2011 - 5:55am

Yep, I read when I can't write. Problem solved.

I haven't beaten myself up about not being able to write in a long time. It happens when it happens and then it happens big time.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts October 9, 2011 - 8:44am

Reading and learning a new hobby is some useful down time, also getting legless on Chili's 2 for 1 drinks and coming back to it in the morning.

I write a lot of critical type essays related to stuff I'm working on or experimenting with in writing. Keeps me writing on the off days and gives me a good focal point. Probably the most useful writing exercise in my routine.

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words October 9, 2011 - 10:20am

Hemmingway always put down his pen when he knew what was coming next - that way, when he sat down to write again, he knew where to begin.

If you run out of ideas, write something, anything else - write the word block and play with all of its meanings. Write something that is outside your forte - like children's romantic dystopian self-help pamphlet or something. Push yourself.

(ps please take my advice, I'm not using it...)

>P

.'s picture
. October 9, 2011 - 11:25am

I just drink a lot of coffee. Fap. Read poetry. Watch American Dad!

Adam's picture
Adam from Denver is reading books... October 9, 2011 - 1:01pm

Doing dishes, laundry, yard work seems to help me for some reason. Also, writing anything other than my current project, even just an email to a friend or family member. I feel like as long as I am writing SOMETHING every day, I'm getting something done. It keeps me in that head space where I end up being productive when I sit down to write fiction. The other thing I do if I get stuck on a particular story, I'll shelve it and start something else. The problem with this of course is that I end up with a bunch of unfinished stories just floating around...

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 9, 2011 - 1:04pm

do something mindless (i think i remember chuck palahniuk saying he does dishes) just to empty your brain, and then new ideas will come.

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break October 9, 2011 - 2:11pm

@Chuck

^^^That.

Although I rarely get blocked, that's the best remedy.  Do something that has nothing to do with writing.  Within the next couple of hours, something will happen.

postpomo's picture
postpomo from Canada is reading words words words October 9, 2011 - 2:15pm

long walks or bike rides help considerably.

J.S. Wright's picture
J.S. Wright from Milwaukee is reading Black Spring October 9, 2011 - 9:42pm

Having a friend or two that knows what you're working on helps.  It gives you the opportunity to talk about it.

Always helps me.

lyndonriggall's picture
lyndonriggall from Tasmania is reading Going Bovine by Libba Bray October 10, 2011 - 2:56am

Also - research.  Most of what we call 'writer's block' happens because we don't know what happens next.  Sometimes that means thinking and waiting - or diverting ourselves - until we work it out.  Other times it means actively looking for the answer.

Dr. Gonzo's picture
Dr. Gonzo from Manchester, UK is reading Blood Meridian October 10, 2011 - 4:32am

I like what Ellis said in the starter pack we were given.  I don't write every day.  Or, more accurately, I don't feel I have to.  Right there a lot of the pressure that can lead to the block is gone.  If I'm not feeling it, I don't write.  I make sure I have something to write before I write it.  If I sit down and plug in with an empty head, I'll have an empty page.  I can't write by the seat of my pants.  I need a bit of direction.  So even if my laptop's turned off, doesn't mean I'm not writing.  Getting it on the pages is a small part of it for me.

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 10, 2011 - 5:59am

Ellis was in the starter pack?

Dr. Gonzo's picture
Dr. Gonzo from Manchester, UK is reading Blood Meridian October 10, 2011 - 6:11am

A whole seven words.  Must've took him a month to write.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig October 10, 2011 - 8:05pm

Fuck, I don't know. It's my biggest challenge--not block in general, but block in a story. When I know what needs to happen but I don't know how to get there. I am actually jacking off here instead of working because of this very thing. I bounced some ideas of my husband and it helped a little, but here I am again--and he's usually not around when I am working on something.

Recently, I have taken a different approach where when I get stuck at one point I move on to something else in the same story, but I am at a point where I can't really do that anymore, and I am trying to get it together in the next couple of weeks.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs October 10, 2011 - 8:40pm

I haven't gotten writer's block ever since I started outlining my books (although I suppose I sometimes get "outliner's block," but that almost always passes very quickly). Before I used outlines, I would frequently get blocked. My solution would often be to take a shower and clear my thoughts. Sometimes it got pretty ridiculous and I took many showers in a single day. Another alternative was going for a walk.

Ben's picture
Ben from Australia is reading My Booky Wook by Russell Brand October 19, 2011 - 5:06am

I solved my block this evening by going for a drive.  I had to go out to get a replacement light bulb for my study, which was good because I was getting pissed off with the scene I was trying to rework.  It wasn't quite right, but cutting it wasn't the answer - it needed a do-over, but I couldn't figure out the angle.  Going for a drive cleared my head, and I had new ideas.  I thought I was onto a winner, but then the more I thought about it, the more I realised that it couldn't work.  And somehow, in that process, I put together what I needed.  I cut the shit from the scene and spiced up the necessary bits, and now I'm very happy with it.

So, overall, I think it's a case of clearing your head - but also pushing through when things aren't quite right.  Write the bullshit out, so the good stuff can come through.

TwistedPaper's picture
TwistedPaper from Poland is reading "The Book of the New Sun" by Gene Wolfe & "Seven Wonders" by Adam Christopher October 19, 2011 - 5:38am

When I've got ideas but simply don;t know how to write them properly - reading

When I'm out of ideas - going to a party or simply all-night wandering from bar to bar with my friends / watching different movies / reading a lot of comics. Especially the drinking option is effective for me

Bekanator's picture
Bekanator from Kamloops, British Columbia is reading Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter October 19, 2011 - 6:27am

Since I've joined the Cult (and not Lit Reactor) I haven't had much writer's block.  There will be that odd day or two when I just can't get anything down, so I usually just have to shrug it off and do something else.  Clean, walk to work instead of taking the bus.  I just try to live life as though I'm not a writer.  Eventually something strikes me again.

Mike Mckay's picture
Mike Mckay is reading God's Ashtray October 19, 2011 - 11:06am

I naturally sleep less, sit on the toilet, or lay down in a dark room. Something always comes to mind whenever I do any of these.

Nick Wilczynski's picture
Nick Wilczynski from Greensboro, NC is reading A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin October 19, 2011 - 11:49am

Switch mediums, write poetry, draw, play piano. Or just switch projects. Or switch to editing.

Or just smoke a bowl and wait it out. If I have writers block it probably means that for some reason I am calm and relaxed, so I might as well get a little more relaxed while I wait for the next panic attack.

Sometimes people say "When you have panic attacks just try to freak yourself out more until you see how silly the whole thing is," while this has never actually stoppped me from freaking out I often find that the mile a minute, worrying about every detail mindset of a panic attack is a pretty OK way to go about writing. Probably have to edit later, but that is the nature of the thing.