The Dreaded Block

Random Thoughts

“The words may be on a break. But they’ll
be back. They always come back.”

I’m often asked about writer’s block. What to do? How to overcome it? How long will it last? These are all good questions, but they only really need one answer. Keep writing. Every day.

You may feel uninspired, like nothing you put on paper or type on the screen holds any value, but odds are, there is something there. Don’t delete them or throw them away. And the worst thing you can do is to put the pen away and do nothing.

There’s millions of things you can try to wake up your muse, but even if your mind comes up blank, you should write something. Even if it’s only a journal of what happened during your day.

My first fiction novel, Just Breathe, was based on a dream. Back then, I tended to forget my dreams and move on, but I was fortunate enough to journal the next day, and my mind kept going back to that scene. My focus shifted, and the story began to unfold. So, lovelies, don’t ignore your muse when it stirs, you might miss something incredible.

© Sarah Doughty

In the comments, let me know what you do to overcome creative blocks.

39 thoughts on “The Dreaded Block

  1. I️ rarely get writer’s block because I️ outline. I️ started outlining when I️ was in film school (because it was required) but I really started to appreciate it because I️ realized planning out the story kept me engaged. And because I️ was coming up with ideas for the story in rapid succession, I️ never really encountered writer’s block.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Wow. I write, with a vague idea of where I’m going, much the same way I write legitimate or electronic music. The journey will dictate the outcome more than me exerting control. Then I get to a place and THEN the plot reveals itself and takes it from episodic rambling and turns it into a story. I do not recommend that approach for everyone, particularly those who like to know where the characters are going. used to think I was lazy, but I truly prefer for the characters to reveal themselves.

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  2. Write and write until I want to punch the screen. Sometimes even in the block it is always better to come back. I save everything. I also go to my trash file and reread some of those pieces. Come to the realization it can’t get any worse than this. That works too at times. Reading in general can help. Hard not to steal at that point though.

    Hobbies help as well. Most of my work is about getting the demons out. Sometimes words are not enough to express what I want to say. Took up painting and Legos. It can feel good to complete something else before moving on with a writing project. Also helps that I suck at both things so I get to “fail” and not care… For novels and stories Lego is amazing for designing buildings, cities, or layouts of places locked in your head…. Great question.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Keep writing is the one way, even if it makes no sense – I am currently struggling with NaNo and just writing gibberish to keep it moving along. Going out for walks helps clear my head. Not looking at a keyboard for a while might set up a sense of loss, but then again that could feel like freedom, 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Will, from what I’ve read, I can understand why your mind is preoccupied. Considering your recent setbacks, maybe it’s time to consider something entirely different. Maybe a young adult book about growing up and learning to navigate the world on your own? I’ve found that writing from the perspective of the protagonist can really help work through those issues.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Ah, the life of the writer. We’ve all been there. What I do now is just write. It may be a new story or one sentence, but I write. Good advice, Sarah! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is such great advice Sarah. I haven’t written anything since losing our Pomeranian Lacey in 2014. I think feeling so horrible on a daily basis also hasn’t helped. I’ve been mostly able to keep up with my blog, but I just can’t come up with anything creative of my own. But I’m going to take your advice an start by journaling again. Who knows when inspiration may strike?😊

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Aw I understand. This entire year has basically been a wasteland in my head. I’ve just had one thing after another come up, keeping me away from writing. I miss it so much. This blog, the daily writing I’m doing, is about the only thing I’ve been able to continue.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve had a very hard time writing for a couple of years now, after about a decade that included two novels, dozens of short stories, and a handful of half completed novels. And that’s where the trouble started. Get an idea, churn through about 25,000 – 30,000 words on the idea and then get bogged down in the details, and with the internal editor constantly critiquing every word. And then the short story well ran dry. And it’s just been extremely hard to write now for a couple of years. I refer to it as the writer’s block to end all writer’s block. But I keep trying to open the door again. Just write … I wish I could, I wish it was that easy, but there are times now when I feel like I have forgotten how to write.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I understand your frustrations. It could be burn out. I’ve heard of that happening in the past. It could be that you need a new method of writing so your inner critic doesn’t take over. In my experience with my books, there’s several stages of the”writer mind.” First, there’s the initial idea, “This is genius!” And your mind goes a mile a minute. About 1/3rd of the way through, the doubts start to creep in. “I forgot this… But plot hole there!” At about 2/3rds, you’re toeing the line between writing garbage and thinking maybe the story is buried in there somewhere. By the end, you’re glad it’s done and dreading when the editing begins. But, once you get to it, it’s not nearly as bad as you thought. I try to ignore that critic as much as possible and just focus on the story, fishing out as much detail as I can. I’m not sure if you were a plotter or a pantser before, but perhaps changing things up will help. Instead of plotting a new story, freewrite the concept, idea, or even one thing that stands out in your mind. You might be surprised where your mind so go from there. If you pantsed before, try plotting your whole story before you write. It can help knock out potential holes in your story. At any rate, I hope it clears up soon. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, The critic is the worst part for me these days. I’m just convinced I’m writing crap. Also, as you describe it .. the original idea seems so GREAT! And then I start writing and I figure out the path forward, I get bored by it. Which is one of the reasons why I think it must be crap. I’ve been more or less a seat of the pants writer. To the extent I outline a story, it’s all in my head and pretty bare bones. One of the things I’ve thought about doing is changing my writing environment. For years, I was able to write in the midst of my family. It’s one of the ways it worked for me. When my kids were younger, I had my laptop and I could write while they played outside or swam in the pool or did their things inside, while continuing to interact with them. They’re older now and mostly gone but I still sit in my recliner while my wife watches TV and it just doesn’t work anymore. Too many distractions. So … lately, I try to find a couple of hours here and there to get out of the house with my laptop and go somewhere where there isn’t wi-fi, so I don’t have the distractions of the internet. And I’ve made a little progress when I do that. The other thing I’m trying to do is set up a writing space for me. Just to change the dynamic as you suggest. But clearing out all of the junk from our office so I can do that is slow going. And, yes, I’m trying to take a more organized approach to my writing. Not necessarily full-blown outlines, but at least going through all of my half-completed stuff and deciding the priority for working my way through them. Or just tossing them all and starting new. We’ll see. Thank you for the encouragement.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Discipline. The most difficult aspect of creating anything. I often suffer from episodic ramblings that were heading somewhere and for lack of plot device or skill just went on down a dead end road. Dust them off. The best advice I got along this line was “make your characters uncomfortable”. I’m not a shill, but The Editors Blog will force you out of complacency, self pity, lack of discipline, lack of enthusiam, sudden boredom with characters or story line. Take your story out of context and comfort. You’d be surprised what you find.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. You make a good point. Stephen King likes to make characters, give them a big problem, and watch them try to make their way out of it. I think knowing your characters and motivations, and then introducing general havoc can make your Muse come up with some cool ideas.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for sharing. I, too have not written a stitch for quite some time, but after reading your post I will take your advice into some consideration like the suggestion about writing something every day even if you don’t post it.

    Liked by 2 people

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