Science Fiction Worlds of Jeffrey A. Carver

Dealing With Writer's Block



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Feeling blocked in your writing? Welcome to the club. I've struggled with it off and on throughout my career, and I'm struggling with it now. But this page isn't about me, it's about you, or someone like you. I have no quick fixes for writer's block, but I can suggest some things that have worked sometimes for me, or that other writers have recommended.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Try working on something different.
  • Try setting up a regular writing routine and time, and stick to it.
  • Try changing your writing routine, maybe working at a different time of the day or different place. I once broke free of an icepack by forcing myself to get up at 5:30 every morning to write. (I'm a night person, and I hate getting up early.) This worked until I collapsed from exhaustion.
  • If you're stuck in a particular story, try interviewing your characters, and ask them questions about themselves.
  • A variant on the above, try writing a criminal profile on your characters.
  • Try getting away from it for a while. Read instead. Or read something different. Or don't write or read for a while, and see if the words and thoughts start bubbling up in your head. Then stand back and open the valve.
  • Enforce strict discipline on writing something, anything, every day. Regardless of how bad.
  • DON'T start the day by rereading what you wrote last. In fact, don't edit or reread what you've written for at least a week or two. (If I reread my work from yesterday, any yesterday, before starting work today, I'd have given up writing years ago. Decades, maybe. Most of my first draft is abysmal. And I don't brag about my second drafts, either.)
  • Keep working on what you've started, even if you think it's crap. Maybe it is, but so what. Don't think of it as crap; think of it as ore to be refined later. I've written whole books that seemed like crap while I was working on them. And then I was surprised to discover what what I had done.
  • Assume that this is a temporary period you're going through, and that you will come out of it. This is known as faith. (Faith is believing in what you don't see.)
I hope this helps a little. (I plan to reread it myself once in a while, as a reminder.)

Best--Jeff Carver



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