When writers hit a wall (and no, I don’t mean the fourth-wall)

Four days into NaNoWriMo and everything is moving swiftly. Your characters are championing outrageous obstacles, your setting is a dizzying hybrid of dystopian delight, and you know this is the month everything falls into place.

And then, inexplicably, it happens.

Your inspiration loses steam and you’re left wondering if that pesky, sprite of a muse will ever return in time to fill the 1,670 word deadline for the day. Worry not, travel-worn bloggers! Four of Dorchester’s authors detail how they address these concerns, and thus, offer writers a bit of advice. We thank Rose Lerner, Graham Masterton, Caitin Rother, and John Everson for their time!

Rose shares her own experiences with traversing alternate writing channels as a way to alleviate the block itself.

I had [writer’s block] for a long long time after my mother died.  But the thing is, it wasn’t really writer’s block.  It was historical romance block, because that was always something I shared with my mother.  I wrote A LOT during that time, but I wrote romantic fanfiction for TV shows.  I was able to get excited about that because there was a built-in community and audience to share it with.  And when I was finally ready to dive back into historical romance (or rather, fall flailing back in: it didn’t happen naturally, it took a giant shove), my writing muscles weren’t rusty and I’d learned a lot in the meantime.  So I think if you’ve had writer’s block for a while, you need to sit down and figure out why.  What’s missing now that used to get you so excited?  Is there something else you still feel that way about?  Give yourself permission to write whatever the heck you want.  Keep writing and practicing your craft.  Give yourself time—but do force yourself to come back to your original idea every so often and see where you’re at.

Good luck, everyone!

Graham takes the straightforward approach when it comes to his craft!

I was trained from the age of 17 as a newspaper reporter and then spent the next 10 years being a magazine editor, and in those jobs you simply don’t get the time or the opportunity for writer’s block because you are always working against a deadline.

Nowadays I have more ideas for books and short stories than I will ever be able to complete in my lifetime.  I know some writers like music in the background, but I prefer silence.  All the sound comes from inside my head.  My advice to anybody who wants to write is just to write, whether you feel in the mood or not.  I currently have two protégé writers, and I am very hard on both of them.  Get on with it.  Stop being pretentious and get something down on the screen, even if you delete it all later.

After detailing her busy writing schedule earlier this week on the blog, Caitlin elaborates on how to combat the nasty writer’s block bug.

[…] I honestly don’t have time to have writer’s block, but if I do run into a wall, I simply switch gears and either mull the problem or let my subconscious work on it until I’m ready to give it another shot.

Last but by no means least, the following is an excerpt from John’s successful foray into the NaNoWriMo challenge, which kick-started his second novel back in 2002. Tune in Monday for details!

Squelching your inner critic is probably the hardest thing a writer can do. The inner critic is the voice in the back of your head that says everything you’ve just written… or wrote yesterday…or are about to write is utter tripe. Your inner critic can make you stare at a blank screen for those few precious hours you have allocated for writing, or  it can make you waste 45 minutes wrestling with a single sentence or paragraph that just doesn’t feel right.

Your inner critic is your biggest enemy to rampant productivity. And rampant productivity is what NaNoWriMo is all about.

How do you weather the tides of inspiration? Reply for your chance to win a nifty tool every writer needs to succeed! Or rather, throw at their monitor when the going gets tough. I know I certainly need one of those.

Signing off (believe in me who believes in you!)—

Jillian, The Zombie Intern


6 Responses to When writers hit a wall (and no, I don’t mean the fourth-wall)

  1. Lad Castle says:

    The Writer,

    Outline for my story.

    First I’ll grab their attention by writing something witty, something to force them to focus on the subject I have chosen to write about. If they are discernable readers how quickly they will inject themselves into the careening flow of expression. Only then will I play upon their intellect presenting questions and challenges, in circumstances that I can bend and turn at will carrying the readers to heights of glory, and then crashing them down on the jagged rocks at the water’s edge at the bottom of a high cliff.
    This time will I choose a murder mystery, or perhaps a love affair to remember? I could write an always popular action piece with blood thirsty villains or maybe a yarn about ageing adventurers searching for the fountain of youth; set in the swamps and marshes, of the Everglades.

    I must create Interesting loveable characters dancing from page to page each one more believable or sinister than the last. Every word spoken must matriculate seamlessly in cohesion and baring emotions while designing a plot and sub plots. All of my narrative sequences will be filled with light and color lending insight to the mystery, of the laughter, and the tears.

    No jumping here and there causing the reader to stumble and lose continuity. I must follow the flow with particular interest to the story line. Never giving them a chance to stray from the path of the written words, I will reach out and grab them by the throat elevating them to whatever level I determine the story progression should take.

    While their facial expressions are locked upward like the painted face of a weird clown bopping his counterpart with a make-ship rubber bat, I will wipe that smile off of their lips with a tear jerking account of grief and woe.

    But I must save the best for last with the hero and heroines, soft quivering lips locked in lustful bliss. Yet most important in the end there must be the answers to all of the seemingly endless desires, questions, and, ambiguities, presented in the story with a flowing crescendo of eloquently satisfying, vehemently lustful, conclusion.

    I think I am ready now …

    A Story by Lad Castle

    In the beginning…

  2. Darlene says:

    I read, I watch TV, I listen to music, I talk to people. I immerse myself in stimulating things because sooner (usually rather than later) something is going to click and get me inspired and make the words start flowing. Great info here. Thanks for sharing. Having a great time with Nano again this year.


  3. Loraine Hunziker says:

    I step away from the pen and paper or computer and take a short break. After living again in the real world, my other world is not so difficult to handle!

    Happy writing, everyone!

  4. Mel K. says:

    Wow. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year. I often find myself with a fear of writing or blocked. Also I have so many ideas I’ll settle on one but in no time I’m off on another. Right (write?) now it’s true crime. Reading this advice really helped me. I sincerely appreciate it. Wish me luck!

    • Allison Carroll, Editorial and Web Coordinator says:

      Hi Mel K.
      I hope your NaNoWriMo experience was a success and you met your personal goals. I’m here to say congratulations—you’ve won our prize! Email your shipping address to contests@dorchesterpub.com and I’ll get your prize in the mail.

      Happy Reading (and writing),
      Allison Carroll
      Dorchester Publishing

  5. Dottie says:

    I’m NaNo-ing this year, I’ve done it since 2009, and though at times it’s hard to let my inner editor go, I try, I go forth, I write. I’m not a naturally writer, I’m a natural talker. So, I’m constantly having these conversations in my head, constantly dialoguing, even my dog thinks I’m crazy. I only get this way during November, lol. I continue to write throughout the rest of the year, but it’s the quick pace that demands I carry on imaged conversations between hero and heroine, protagonist and antagonist. It’s all relative anyway or maybe it’s just my relatives. I don’t know. But, I do know that if I hadn’t discovered NaNo, I would have never tried to write anything as large as 50000 words. It’s a massive achievement, and I applaud all those secret writers out there who are putting words on page or screen, for the first time or continuing their many successes. *tips an imaginary hat* Congrats to all the NaNoWriMos out there! (or in my case, all the NaNoers who need to get the conversations out of their heads!)

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