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The blank page and writer's block

An issue I think all writers experience at one time or another, whether they are writing fiction or non-fiction. Firstly, however, is writer’s block a real thing? What does it actually mean? How can it present? What would be interesting to follow this is a discussion of a range of strategies that are often suggested, along with some anecdotes from published writers (from literature, to television, films or even journalists) on the ways they have overcome their own writer’s block.

  • Cool topic! I've got some thoughts that might help. I'm a published writer myself, and I've heard a lot about this. A lot of fellow writers say writer's block isn't real. They say when we claim to have it, we're just stonewalling ourselves and the process. But for me at least, there does come a time when you're just...dry. It happens for a lot of reasons - you're out of ideas, you just finished a project and don't know how to start on the next one, you name it. In my personal experience, writer's block happens because of my fear. That is, I sit down to write and my inner editor/critic/prospective agent will not shut up. She says things like, "You're telling, not showing! This has been done! No one will read this! You can't do it again!" And no matter how much I tell her to shut the you-know-what up, she keeps yakking. I'm thinking of naming her - after Delores Umbridge. :) Anyway, perfectionism is a huge culprit. There's also the fact that as writers, we think of any excuse not to write. As in, "I gotta work on my day job first/I haven't showered yet/there's something good on TV/maybe after I work out the juices will flow..." As for strategies, I'm a fan of "just suck it up and write," but sometimes that doesn't work. Getting out of the house can be extremely helpful, and I'm a big fan of music. I associate a lot of my favorite songs with characters I've created, so listening helps me think of where I want to take them. Hope this helps! – Stephanie M. 5 months ago
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  • Journaling helps. I just read the book 'The War of Art' and essentially it chocks up creativity as more of a transcendent message that we as humans are just agents for. Even Tom Waits believes this. So, to combat these bursts of creativity, I keep a journal. Sometimes my thoughts are ten-fold, and sometimes it's as simple as "A man on the bus sitting with flowers." Well, imagine the possibilities in just that statement. Is it valentine's day? Is he apologizing? Why does he have flowers? It's these little nooks and crannies in life that can inspire so much. So journaling really helps in making sure my thoughts are worth something for the times when I don't think they are. I recommend actually getting a journal rather than notes in an iPhone, something tangible means more in the end. Another way I combat writer's block is to just go out and live. As writers there's a romanticism involved with the sequestered author hidden away critiquing the world. But I always try to engage with strangers I come across. This is where characters come from. Something as simple as the way a man's ears wiggle when he talks, is a character trait that will aid any story. Everything is borrowed, but it's only borrowed if we take the time to notice. So my two tips: 1) Journal and 2) Live! – ryhook 5 months ago
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  • Writing daily helps--and it does not necessarily have to be well-developed complete pages. I think the advantage of a site such as this, The Artifice, is that by submitting Topics that you will not be writing about can actually help you to organize your thoughts about topics you want to write about. You look at how you put together a coherent idea and then there it is on the screen in front of you. The more you can do that, although other people will choose those Topics to write about, can help you see how you are organizing your thoughts regarding what you are writing. – Joseph Cernik 3 months ago
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