The Dreaded Writer’s Block

June 21, 2009 at 9:07 AM | Posted in Editing, Life, Writing, Writing Advice | 5 Comments

Last week for me was just one of those weeks. You know the ones – where everything just seems to go wrong. And the biggest problem of last week? Writer’s Block. Yes, that’s write, I caught it – and downright miserable it (from now on known as WB) is too.

I sat. I stared at the screen. I wrote three lines, then deleted them again. This pattern continued for three nights, before I decided I might as well just give up and not write anything new until my muse decided to kindly grace me with its presence once more. So, I moved onto editing Family Portrait – only to find that everything I read I’d written sound like complete and utter rubbish. I forced myself not to delete the whole thing, and instead rang up a friend of mine who betas my work for me. “I can’t write,” I moaned. “I’m just going to give up now, it’s all a load of crap. Why did I start writing?” It took her a good fifteen minutes to persuade me not to delete the whole thing, and then I had to go round to hers to get some editing advice – because nothing was working.

So, the point of this post: how on earth do you cure WB, and its companion ‘why-did-I-think-I-could-write?’. Well, here is my advice, having managed to get over the dreaded WB two days ago (and yes, I then stayed up ridiculously late writing, because I’m not going to waste any writing time!). Firstly, save your current draft, and then save a copy. With the copy, do whatever you have to; delete the whole thing, rewrite huge chunks, kill off all your main characters. (Last week I actually wrote a scene that went something like “As she sat in the bay window, she heard a bang; as the boiler exploded, she hoped that someone would survive. And then she took her final breath. The End.” — I was really that annoyed with them all!) But whatever you do, DO NOT (I repeat, do not) make edits and changes to your current WIP, or any other works you have completed. You’ll regret them – when you’re in a mood like that, changing everything with no back ups is never a good idea.

 Whilst I plan on following this advice next time round, it is not a way to cure WB – just a way to avoid destroying all your hard work when you have one of those moments, days, weeks. No, my advice on how to cure it is simple: read. Find a good book – a new one, one you read all the time, whatever – and just have an evening off writing. Reading is enough to inspire me again, to get me thinking in the right frame of mind; I hope it works for some other people too! Give it a go – it might be enough to cure that horrible feeling of not being able to write.

— Becky.

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