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  1. #1
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    Getting Over Writer's Block

    Evidence to the contrary, one of my least favorite activities has to be writing. Everytime I have to write something, especially if it's for an audience, I'm overcome with anxiety and take forever to get my thoughts down on to paper. It's always been a struggle and lately I can't write anything at all. Even really simple stuff takes me forever and leaves me filled with doubt over my ability to coherently express myself.

    They say the first step to overcoming a problem is to admit that you have one. So I'm wondering if other craftistsas suffer from writer's block (or just writing induced anxiety) and how did they overcome it? I'm almost at the point of calling up a shrink for counseling because I can't continue to be like this.

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  3. #2
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    I haven't had a complete block in forever. Some things I want to write about may be blocked, but there's always some other stream of consciousness thing i could write or snippets of essays I'm considering.

    What seems to work for me is to dance around the area that is troubling. Writing a lengthy piece and the intro is eluding you? Skip to the middle and flesh that out a bit.

    You can also do some planning onscreen or on paper about your writing project. Even stuff like "sharpen pencils, turn on NPR" might improve your mindset.

    If it's a fiction, think about what you want to achieve in a certain place, maybe some foreshadowing or greater depth of character. Keep a file or a pad of paper that just has notes. Some of them will eventually fill in holes in your piece.

    When it's a business type of thing, I might mentally review the usual structure of such papers and see how that will work for my assignment. I once wrote a cost benefit analysis that my boss's boss said was the funniest thing she'd ever read. It made my point. And kept me from getting stuck with such stuff from then on.

    As a kid, I thought my writing was stilted, contrived, awkward. Then I realized I think that way, too. Hey, problem solved. Actually, i started listening to an inner voice that nags when an area doesn't flow as it should. Sometimes it's because my construction is too convoluted, but often it's a simple matter of word choices.

    My suggestion is just to write through the block. Write about the block if you have to, but keep writing.

  4. #3
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    everytime i think i have writers block, i tell myself i'm being lazy. that makes me sit down and just get busy. it feels good to at least get soemthing on paper, you can always go back and rework.

    ok, now i have to get back to my writing!

  5. #4
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    i highly recommend the book "the artist way" for writer's block. seriously, the book helped me start writing seriously and develop good habits. it takes you through a bunch of steps each week and tells you to keep a daily journal, all of which helped me break through my blocks.

    good luck and keep us posted on your progress.

  6. #5
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    Snufkin, because we are friends (of the Internet variety anyway, at the moment) I hope you won't take this the wrong way.

    Have you tried a little booze?

    Everyone else had all the good practical suggestions, but if they don't work, maybe cracking open a cold one will.

    Sincerely,
    Heidi

  7. #6
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    lately i've been dealing with writer's block issues.

    the two techniques that have worked for me are:

    1. writing a so-called 'zine version' of what i am trying to say (ie, writing it in my own vernacular first, then doctoring it to the audience)

    2. writing a really loose outline. for example recently i finished a report that i just couldn't get done for months. it just seemed too boring and long and annoying. so i wrote down the bullet points i wanted to cover, and then turned the bullet points into sentences, and then linked the sentences with some other sentences, and suddenly it began to take shape.

    does that make sense? feel free to email me, if you need any help!

    x

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by researchasaurus

    Have you tried a little booze?
    It worked for Hemengway

  9. #8
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    Well one thing painters do when blocked is do something, but do something compleatly unrelated to what you would normaly do, I will do crazy abstract paintings that are compleatly differnt than my normal style when I cant think of anything to do. So maybe if you normaly write fiction you could instead do a short essay or somthing also sometimes it helps to do something that is less importaint (not that all creativity is importaint) but maybe just doing a silly journal exercise or something??

    Astoria

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Astoria
    Quote Originally Posted by researchasaurus

    Have you tried a little booze?
    It worked for Hemengway
    Heidi & Astoria, thanks both for the laugh of the day! Unfortunately, this is dry, work related writing not For Whom the Bell Tolls. So I'm not sure how my superiors would feel about me keeping an open bottle of Shiner Bock or a shot of Don Julio Reposado at my work station! Nice thought though : ). And it did make me interested in finally tracking down that statistic about the percentage of librarians/archivists who drink on the job!

    The crazy thing is that I woke up this morning around 5.30am and spent about 4 hours cranking out one of the reports that I need to get finished by tommorow. Thank god for a job which sometimes allows me to work (weird hours) at home. Now I only have one more report to finish before it's off my back. At least for the moment. I did find a book about writer's block yesterday and one of the first things I read in it is the statement that having block is a sign that you need to change/correct your work process. I like all the suggestions here and will be looking into them (after I get the last report finished) because I need to change how I manage my writing.

  11. #10
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    Okay, I see that it's specific writing you have to do, but if you or anyone else is trying to write random fiction and can't think of ideas...

    WRITE THE WRITER'S BLOCK!

    This is the best advice I've been given by my writing teacher. Honestly, just sit down at the page (or screen) and start writing about your writer's block. "I hate this. I can't think of anything to write. Blah blah blah. I suck. Why do I always get so blocked when I have something important to write? How come the weird anxiety always comes JUST at this moment?"

    and keep writing, and writing. When I do this, and just let myself go, ranting and raving, it always turns into something else eventually. I hit on something -- even when I write "I'm not going to hit on anything." There always ends up being a hint of a story in there somewhere. Just let one sentence lead to another. That's all that writing is anyway, right?

    And I second the recommendation of "The Artists' Way."


 
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