Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The dreaded...dum dum dum... Writer's Block!

by Jude Mason

I had an almost uncontrollable urge to simply whine for a second about not knowing what to write and leaving the rest of this blank. You may wish that's what I did.

Years ago, I had bouts of writer's block, where I simply sat in front of a blank page, or even a page half-filled with writing, and proclaimed I couldn't think of a thing to say. I can't honestly say if I allowed myself the pleasure of 'time off' or if this was really an affliction that I felt I needed to get through in order to write my next bit. I suppose it really doesn't matter. It happened, and it's history.

When I began writing for a webzine called, Darker Pleasures, both the genre and the pace of writing needed was daunting. The webmaster/owner had very specific requirements, which proved to be an enormous chance to learn and stretch my imagination. Every month, and I do mean every single month come hell or high water, the site put up new content. That meant the writers had to produce consistently. The pay was good, the photos we were given to work with were excellent quality and the man we worked for was helpful in the extreme. But, putting out a minimum of 10K a month, sometimes more, on the same topic, month after month, wasn't always easy. I often managed to do much more than 10K. A photo story paid more but was expected to be longer. There were times when the webmaster needed an extra story, an author couldn't meet a deadline or perhaps had some other deadline to meet, and I filled in.

I learned then that a writer's block really wasn't a good idea.

Yes, I have had times when a story didn't work. I've had characters argue with me, others simply refuse to play nice. There's always a way to get the story moving though, if you need it to. Change the characters around. Move them, add someone else, do something to shake the story up and you'll get movement. LOL

When I left Darker Pleasures, I'd learned that a deadline was a very good thing to have. It gave me strict guidelines I follow. I'm one of those people who just doesn't miss deadlines. If I say I'll have something done by next Tuesday at 9 AM, it'll be there.

Have there been times when a story doesn't get finished? You betcha! I have several I'd like to complete, sitting on my hard drive right now. When I have time, I take them out and look at them, but I have no idea if they'll ever get done. I hope so. Possibly if I see a call for submissions where one might fit, if it was done, that'd egg me on enough.

But, blocked? Me? Nope, I refuse to allow it to happen.

Oh, I could go into a time when one of my characters stopped me cold. I suppose that might be refered to as a block. The man was a dominate. He'd just said to his submissive wife, something like, "Get in the car." then he'd taken a few steps towards the door, reached out to open it and BLAM! That's where I stopped. The man refused to open the door.

WTF!

It took me several days to figure out what the problem was. The character would no way have opened the door for his wife, not at that moment. As soon as I realized it, the words came.

If that's a blog, I'll gladly have them. Hopefully, I'll realize what the problem is faster as time goes on though. LOL

An interesting topic. Can't wait to see what everyone else says on the topic and I'd love to hear what you all think of writer's block.

16 comments:

  1. Jude,

    Thank you for reminding me of the fun-filled times we used to have at Darker Pleasures.

    I agree with a lot of what you've said about the dreaded Writer's Block. I'm also looking forward to reading everyone else's take on this topic.

    Best,

    Ash

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  2. Hi, Jude,

    Having a deadline will get you moving, even when you don't feel like moving.

    Years ago (more than I want to say), I was working on my PhD. My dissertation was based on a number of experiments that took me nearly two years to finish. By the time I started actually writing the dissertation, I was so BORED... I could barely stand to think about the stuff, let alone write about it. But I'd made a commitment. I had a deadline. So I sat down and wrote until it was done. (It ended up being nearly 500 pages, actually, but I've always had trouble with brevity...)

    I'm careful about making commitments these days, because I know that if I say I'll do something by a specific day, I'm going to need to do it - come hell or high water.

    Your example about getting stuck when your first idea wasn't right for the character is fascinating, too. Your subconscious recognized the problem before your conscious mind did.

    Best,
    Lisabet

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  3. Hi Jude,

    I've seen your characters get stuck in a few instances, and with time it always works out! But even with all your real world interferences, you're an excellent deadline-keeper!

    Great post.

    Hugs,

    Jenna

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  4. Hi Ash,

    I don't know about you, but I found working with Matt at DP one of the most educational periods in my writing career. The requirements were so strict, you really had to stretch to create something fresh.

    I am so looking forward to what you come up with this week. Or, maybe that's terrified... not sure. Hehehe!

    Hugs

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  5. Ah yes, time is always on my side in that respect. If I get stuck, eventually the ticking clock will start to get to me. I've always done well under pressure and there's nothing like a deadline (self-imposed or otherwise) to get me motivated..at the last possible minute (born procrastinator here).

    The other thing that always helps me is to enter into a challenge with another writer suffering from the same problem. Kind of like a work-out partner. It's easy to roll over on a cold morning and hit snooze if it's just you, but if someone is waiting on you, you make yourself get up. :) Peer pressure, baby!

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  6. Lisabet,

    I know my characters have spoken to me many times over the years, but I'm sure I'll always remember that one particular time as being the first. It was as if he owned the story, I was just telling it for him, and he meant it to be told right. LOL

    That probably sounds just a tad schizo, but well, you just don't know where I live so it's okay. LOL

    Thanks for your comments!

    Hugs

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  7. Jenna,

    Yes, I would imagine you've seen my characters annoy me more than most people have. As for deadlines, as an old publisher of mine once told me, they make amazing sounds when they go whizzing by. LOL

    Thanks for commenting!

    Hugs

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  8. Hi Devon,

    You are sooo right. There have definitely been times when a story might be shoved onto the back burner, if it was mine alone. Having a co-writer waiting for the next bit to get done so she can have her turn at it, well it sure makes stalling difficult. LOL

    Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    Hugs

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  9. Oh, I so relate to this. I've got a weekly deadline now with the podcast, which means I've got 5 days to write and 2 days to record and produce. The work HAS to get done, or I've blown it big time. Knowing that, I have no time for writer's block. Even if the story I write ends up not being perfect, it gets written, recorded and posted. That process has worked pretty well the last two years ;)

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  10. Writers block can be a luxury we can't afford. However, it happens. Best medicine I've found for that is to do something I hate. Like housework. Oh yeah, that gets met to thinking. Anything but housework.
    A maid I was not cut out to be.

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  11. Hi Helen,

    So, what constitutes a block then? We seem to push through any stumbling blocks when we're under deadline. So, does that mean a blog is a luxury? Something we don't allow, but only under certain circumstances?

    Interesting stuff here.

    Hugs

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  12. Redameter,

    Laughing my ass off here. Yup, I'm with you, big time. Thank you so much for the chuckles.

    Hugs

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  13. I just discovered this Blog yesterday, and I love it! It's actually interesting. WTG Ladies! Keep up the good work.

    Ah yes, writers' block, been there, done that and I've had the eyestrain to prove it. At least I did until I realized there's no such thing as WB, what there is are ideas that don't have all their parts. Such as my current wip which was threeatening to blow up in my face. I just knew the readers were going to hate it...until, for some strange reason, I was on the verge of changing the title until I realized the title I have says it all: one of the characters is merely declaring his independence, not calling the game.

    Chris

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  14. Yup, see there's another rampantly independent characters! They're all over the freakin' place.

    I really am finding this very, very interesting folks.

    Chris, thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you visit us often.

    Hugs

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  15. Hey Jude

    This blog is the first deadline I've ever had on writing, and I face writers block every time a new topic is revealed. It never seems to have been a problem for you though. You're lucky.

    Garce

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  16. Garce,

    It's happened, believe me, but not for a very long time now. I simply don't have time for it. I don't know how or why, but just saying that, believing it, is what it took for me.

    I also know we're all different and what works for me, won't necessarily work for you or anyone else.

    Hugs

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