Just One Question #3

Another question, another author. I asked this one knowing I would want to weigh in on the subject myself, but I’ll leave my comments until afterwards.

Q: Is there such a thing as writer’s block?

Lew Serviss: I think there is such a thing as writer’s block, and I would define it like this:

It’s not that you have nothing to say, but that what you do have at the moment is unacceptable to you. Generally, you want every word you write to be perfect and a step toward completing this marathon project that is a book. When the thoughts are just not well-developed or interesting, you have to fight through until your subconscious can do the edit.

The best ideas, I find, come not at the keyboard but in the middle of the night or early morning after a vivid sleep when my subconscious has untangled a plot stumble or worked out a novel wrinkle for a character. My solution for “writer’s block” is to keep punching through until my subconscious has enough data to help me move ahead.

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For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts on writer’s block.

While I realise some writer’s struggle with it immensely, I think it’s a bit of a myth; a combination of lack of planning and fear of finishing. Personally, if I run into problems with a story it’s almost always because I didn’t solve those problems at the planning stage. Good structure is a blueprint.

I know some writers like to wing it, and see what happens, feeling that to tie yourself to a story outline limits creativity. I think it’s quite the opposite, and I always surprise myself even with a solid outline.

The other problem is when you lose your enthusiasm for the project. This is why I try and have two or three things on the go at once, so that I can switch between them if my energy wanes. It works best when they are at different stages, one at planning, one at writing, one at revision.

If you’re running in to problems because you are constantly trying to get it perfect, you’re a fool to yourself. James Thurber said it best, “Don’t get it right, get it written.” A half finished script or manuscript is nothing but paper.

2 thoughts on “Just One Question #3

  • March 18, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    I love that quote by James Thurber. It is something I am telling myself while writing these days, too!

  • March 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    I think it depends on the way you write – I’m a winger and I do struggle at times. Often because I’ve lost my way, or sometimes if there’s a part of the story that is hard for me to write, emotionally. It’s usually either a planning or psychological blockage and once recognised as such it goes away.

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