2012-09-24

Writer's block and how I overcame it

It happens to every writer-the dreaded blank mind-writer's block.  It might last 60 seconds, an hour, all day, or for much, much longer.  This happened to me while working on Peacekeeper.  I had just finished writing a scene and was about to begin chapter 15.  Nothing, nada, a blank mind.  Crap!  I have a rare opportunity to spend 4 hours writing and I've got nothing. Crap!

Writer's block can be devastating to a writer who thinks they must write a certain number of words each day.  I write what I can, when I can and when writer's block hits I have to put writing aside and let my subconscious mind work its magic.  I close down Scrivener, get up, and walk away.  But, I don't stop thinking about the problem.  I do other things to help take my mind off the novel.  I read, mow the lawn, get things done around the house, watch TV, or surf the web.  The trick for me is to get my mind on something else allowing the subconscious to work.  I will periodically check back with the problem, reminding my hidden self that there's something that needs resolved.  I think about the problem driving to work, while taking a shower, and as I'm trying to go to sleep.  The last seems to work best.

This time the block lasted 3 days.  The solution, as it normally does, came to me seemingly out of the blue.  I was sitting on the couch with my wife watching TV when my subconscious alerted me to the fact that it had solved the problem.  An entire scene suddenly popped into my head.  Being a good husband, I didn't just get up and run to the computer room.  I will admit that my interest in the program playing on the set was now close to zero.  I ran the scene over in my head, told my wife about the epiphany, and then proceeded to fill in the details.  By the time my wife had to go to bed, the scene was clear with words on standby to be typed.

I was working my way into a night-shift schedule and after my wife hit the hay I hit the keyboard.  I managed to hammer out quite a bit before sleep started to interfere.  I was forced to go to bed with more words ready to write.  The next day I continued writing and as I did the next scene unfolded without any problems.

If writer's block strikes, perhaps simply walking away for awhile will help break it.  The subconscious mind is a wonderful, incredible, tool.  Let it do it's job and keep prodding it until it produces an answer.  Peacekeeper is now at 29,300 words.  Hopefully, I will have time from 0300 until 0630 (I work from 1830 till 0630 but the second-shift crew doesn't leave until 0300) for the next 3 days while I'm on night shift to add to that count.

Just finished "Beginnings, Middles & Ends" by Nancy Kress.  You can read my review on GoodReads at: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/68317.Beginnings_Middles_Ends.  I'm now starting a rather thick book titled "Philosophical Explanations".