Friday, July 9, 2010

Writer's Block

I worked very hard this academic year. I taught twelve classes, four of them completely new, and I have worn out my grading hand pretty thoroughly. I thought when summer came that I would want nothing more than to write.

I guess I was wrong.

Over the past four weeks (yes, FOUR), I've managed to do dishes, play piano, do laundry, go shopping, sweep, and even vacuum more than write. I think I have spent more time cleaning out the cat box than I have writing. I have used every excuse there is, but the truth is, I've had a bit of a block.

For perhaps the third time in my life, I have writer's block.

It doesn't feel good. My stomach squirms, I spend far too much time playing free games on Yahoo, I eat more, I'm bored, and I feel pretty foolish.

I have done writing-related activities. I just finished going through my fourth resource for the Oxford play I'm planning (discussed in an earlier blog). But research isn't writing, and my doctorate is no indication that I love research. The books on Oxford so far--barring one--have been pretty lame, too, filled with assumed information in much the same way that biographies of Shakespeare are filled with assumptions. Every author is snide, too. The Stratfordians sneer at the likelihood of Oxford (or anyone else) authoring a single word of the plays, and the Oxfordians sniff back. It isn't pretty, it isn't nice. Furthermore, it isn't me. That's why I'm not writing a stuffy textbook expounding to the world the "truth" that I have "discovered." I make no assumptions about what the truth is in this case, mainly because until I die and go talk to all of these people myself, I won't know what really happened. (It kind of reminds me of faith--I can't fault someone's beliefs just because they don't coincide with mine, for I can't know that I'm right.)

Anyhow, while I'm slogging through the research, I'm not loving it, and it's causing me to avoid the computer, the books, everything to do with writing.

Solutions? I'd love it if you have some. I certainly don't want to start teaching in late September only to realize that I didn't write a word all summer.

I've decided to skip the research for a week. I can renew the books indefinitely (it's not like anyone else wants to read them), so they can be waiting when I actually want to "work" on writing. For now, I'm going to play. I'm going to plan out adventures, revise my novels until they are bright and shiny and ready for publication. And if I get in a rut, I won't let it last. I'll just switch gears and find something I want to write instead.

What do you do when you get stuck? How do you resolve writer's block?


  1. I'm going through some doldrums myself at the moment. I like to switch gears when I'm stuck and do something different. Start something new, write a short story, do a bunch of haiku, something that cleanses the writing palette until I figure out what I want to be working on.

  2. Just about anything I could write to you Shakes would sound trite or ego driven but I will give it a shot.

    The first question is are you one of those writers who writes because you have this great thing inside you that must come out or you will explode? (I shudder when someone gives me this as their answer)

    The second is are you one of those writers who write simply because you can?

    Personally I am of the second category and I never, not in 40 year, have gotten "blocked." I get bored with the craft at times and stop but I always can sit down and write something new. I do not believe in writers block. I believe in lack of desire but not lost ability.

    If you are in the first category go have a greasy lunch of vegetarian sliders and bean burritos then your explosion will come about and there will be no more blockage.

    Other than that take your laptop to a new location where no one knows you and the art on the walls is all from Wal-Mart and sit with a coffee and just go to work on what ever project you want to work on.

  3. It’s hard to write when your mind is tired of so many chores, I hope you find your way through it.
    I normally read a book or watch a movie I have seen or read so many times it lets my mind wonder. Try doing something that worked in the past to inspire you.

    Try skipping ahead bypassing the part you’re stuck on, like going to the next chapter, or even start writing the ending. Try meditation or writing a synopsis about your WIP, or just sit and ponder about your story and brainstorm about every possibility.

    I hope you find away to open your creative mind, I know it gets hard to do when life gets so busy.

    Best of luck.

  4. When I'm actively doing research, I can't focus on the fiction. The stuff I'm studying just keeps swirling up inside my head.

    So, no, no help from this quarter.