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#242312 - 05/12/07 04:46 PM Writer's Block
TheNaturalForce Offline
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Registered: 02/28/07
Posts: 511
Loc: The Vibrant Garden
I am a creator. I enjoy writing music, arranging words into stories or poetry, making occasional visual art or forcing myself to evaluate and explore ideas from the most angular and unheard of perspective that I can. All this comes from the same place. It is a particular state of mind, my creative mode.

When I am on track to making something work it is like a whirlwind of energy and inspiration. It is at times like this that I create my best music or write my best lines or understand something beyond my normal perception. In whatever it is that I am doing the mental energies just keep building as the creation takes shape until I have fully realized it, then with the realization I get a sort of release and feel very elated.

(On a side note...) I often wonder what is medically happening with this as well because many a time I felt like there were chemical changes in my body during and after the creative process.

Well, lately I have been going through another creative fury and all this crap just keeps pouring out of me. The only problem is that I cannot get that 'realization' that I had so many times before. It's like I have the full picture in view but its out of focus. It's very frustrating to feel so inspired but unable to correctly execute the impulse. I think this problem I am having is what many call writer's block.

Did what I've described make sense to you? If so, what techniques do you use to overcome writer's block?


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#242314 - 05/12/07 05:13 PM Re: Writer's Block [Re: TheNaturalForce]
Minus Offline
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Registered: 05/10/06
Posts: 2236
Loc: Circling A Star
 Quote:
If so, what techniques do you use to overcome writer's block?


Write about your writer's block. Construct a story where that is the main focus (or at least an important part). This will start the process of writing and the rest should come naturally.
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#242318 - 05/12/07 05:24 PM Re: Writer's Block [Re: TheNaturalForce]
Shade Offline
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Registered: 07/08/06
Posts: 6135
Loc: A Trailer Park
Creating is orgasmic... hence, addictive.

I would treat the problem of -'not getting release'- just as I would treat other problems. Play alot, get him to giggle and relax... IE: take your mind off it and then let yourself re-focus. Oft times it's not that you can not focus, just that you are trying desperately to focus on the wrong things...
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#242320 - 05/12/07 05:26 PM Re: Writer's Block [Re: TheNaturalForce]
RottenBonnie Offline


Registered: 04/28/07
Posts: 546
Loc: The West Coast, USA
Anne Lamott wrote a terrific book called, "Bird by Bird" that offers various strategies to help someone work through creative difficulties. In fact one of her chapters is called, "Shitty first drafts." Basically: don't be afraid to write a shitty first draft.
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#242322 - 05/12/07 05:30 PM Re: Writer's Block [Re: TheNaturalForce]
Zaftig Offline
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Registered: 09/23/06
Posts: 3409
I remember reading some comments from authors on how to overcome writer's block or even just get started becoming a writer.

Margaret Atwood: "Read, read, read. Write, write, write."

(I cannot recall the author): "Write your entire first book. Then throw it out."

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#242330 - 05/12/07 05:45 PM I'll give this a shot. [Re: TheNaturalForce]
Maqlu Offline
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Registered: 03/10/07
Posts: 1673
Well, it certainly sounds like you have a partial block.

I can relate this to times I find I get loads of ideas that are more like seeds - they need time to germinate in the subconscious no matter how badly I want to get the project complete immediately. As an example, for my comic I have a whole notebook of scripts and notes. Some comics come to me complete and need only minor editing, some come as only a line or two that I write down to come to later. (I have three double-column pages of story seeds like "Zamo loses something" or "Zamo wants to vote" or "Zamo fears an earthquake".) Usually I'll flip through later and a line or two will spark writing the whole comic.

If you're finding right now you're still producing a lot of ideas and sketches or notes, even though it's frustrating that you aren't feeling the release of completion and realization, your subconscious may be laying the groundwork at the moment for something greater to come in the future. I recall one art instructor of mine last year saying that she finds her art is two to five years ahead of her understanding, or at least that when she is inspired to do a painting on a new theme that the reasons she thinks she's working on that theme at the time are usually superficial and it's only later in retrospect that she can see what it really related to. I've had some similar experiences with my own work, and I think perhaps this may turn out to be true for your partial block too, that there is an underlying rhyme and reason and that it will eventually yield the realization that you seek.

After doing tons of art in high school, I crashed and burned in my first term of art school and quickly transferred to university. I continued to draw in my sketchbook, but went from my high school highly realistic style (mostly from photos) to a looser more cartoony style, and drew just to amuse myself. No one was ever going to see it except for a few close friends, so it didn't matter if it was perfect like my high school drawings. I also did not paint for a few years. I didn't think of it as a block at the time because I was so sure I wasn't cut out for art so it didn't matter. Eventually a yearning for art grew and I went back to art school - this time night classes for my own interest. I started to paint again in 2004, sporadically at first and now I have nine paintings I want to do this summer. What I learned in retrospect was that I needed that time off. My high school style was very flat for the most part (though I have seen in those old works the seeds of my current style in terms of bold shapes and vivid streaky broken colors) as it was too regimented and too superficial. The years I spent doodling obscene S&M cartoons just for myself loosened up my drawing style, eventually leading to the way I draw Zamo the Destroyer in terms of line quality and calculated carelessness. (Plus if you were to see both, you might notice Wilhelm looks awfully like my cartoon S&M pin-up boys except for the clothes.) It gave me time to grow and discover what it was I really wanted to create. I might not have been working, but I was growing, and in a way growth is a form of work, too.

I have had a nasty case of writer's block in terms of songwriting for almost a year now. I don't know why. I'm not sure of how to fix it or if I should even bother, but it hasn't spilled over into any other genres or media. Last summer I would spend whole afternoons sitting with my writing book or my guitar determined to try to write something, anything, but it just made the frustration worse and at best I'd just have a page full of Zamo doodles. (which is better than a kick in the ass...)

Last year when it was a new issue, I read a book called "Unstuck"by Jane Anne Staw which had some interesting ideas about block, but more recently I just finished a book called "The Midnight Disease" by Alice Flaherty that goes into the whole neurological basis of creativity and problems with both block and hypergraphia. It might not give too many ideas as to how to fix this period of block, but at least it might help explain what might be happening. (And yes, I do believe the author mentions that there are measurable brain wave and chemistry changes associated with creativity.)

Some questions to consider are what might have changed in your life recently. Have you moved or changed jobs? Has your diet changed? Might this change just be a seasonal thing? Or, maybe nothing's changed and that's the problem. Etc.

I don't pretend to understand my own creative process at times, it's more like a trial and error thing. I know some times all I want to do is cartoon, others it's all about painting, others it's all about doing nothing but still doing thumbnails of any ideas that come along. Other times I have an overwhelming urge to just go through sketchbooks and just bask in what I've already done (and sometimes there I find old themes I've abandoned that inspire me to revive them.) I tend to have the attitude that there's a time for everything and I just follow it. When it isn't the time to work, I focus on other "housekeeping" type things like spreading flyers for the comic around town, compiling lists of upcoming shows I can try to get my work into, and trying new things (I just recently got into local Artist Trading Card make meetings, and found that to be loads of fun and a great place to cross-fertilize with other artists).

One thing I occasionally do when I'm not sure what I want to create but I have the urge is to try a technique I learned in a university class on Zen where we spent one night working with Zen ink paintings. The prof said to just let the brush make marks until you recognize something and then bring it out. I have done this more recently when I had a bunch of ATCs to make and so I just randomly covered some blanks with gouache and let it dry and then tried to see if the brush marks suggested something I could bring out with drawing over the gouache. This was successful for about five cards, and one of them I liked so much I sketched it into my notebook and decided to do a big painting of it that I will submit at the end of the month for a juried show (hopefully it makes the cut.) Perhaps with writing there would be a similar way to bring the random factor in - maybe just flipping through a dictionary with your eyes closed, stopping when you feel like it and picking out a word from the page, do this a few times and see if those words spark something?

So, I guess my advice would be 1) try to flow with the block and see if it has a purpose, 2) keep at it even if you feel your efforts are sucky now because they might lead to something in the end, 3) try to not let the frustration get to you since it will snowball on you, 4) maybe go back through old notes and see if there's any underexplored themes that grab you, 5) some writers swear by freewriting or mind-mapping, and 6) try alternative means of expression, or just try new and random things in general.

Anyway, hope this gives some food for thought.

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#242336 - 05/12/07 06:11 PM Re: Writer's Block [Re: TheNaturalForce]
Amelia Offline


Registered: 04/18/07
Posts: 113
Loc: USA
Usually I watch, read and/or listen to something I found artistically stimulating in the past. Or I have a day where I don't try to do anything particularly creative. I found, if I try and force it, I don't enjoy it or like whatever I make. I give in to the period of uncreativity, and then the inspiration comes back practically the next day.
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#242459 - 05/13/07 02:12 AM Re: Writer's Block [Re: TheNaturalForce]
Chess Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 09/09/02
Posts: 1473
Loc: Chicago, IL USA
I'm a writer myself, and yes, writer's block is very annoying.

The way I usually deal with it is just to write something in the story I'm working on. Say you're halfway through a story, you know more-or-less where you want it to go next, but inspiration eludes you. Okay. Write one way of getting from here to there -- let's say the horrible-cliché version, perhaps where one character Sees The Error Of His Ways for no particular reason and instantly becomes a good guy. Then write another version, where the plot takes a sharp left turn -- say aliens land on the lawn or something and your characters have to start dodging ray-gun blasts. Fire up your music program, set it to shuffle, and say "Okay, the song that comes up next, I'll take some aspect of it and work it into the story." Or grab a book off a shelf without looking , flip it to a random page, stab your finger into the text with your eyes closed, and copy whatever sentence you're pointing at as your story/scene opener -- make it work somehow. Whatever. Just write something. Anything.

So what if it's horrible? At the very worst, you'll throw it all away. But even in that case, you're still no worse off than if you'd sat there in front of a blank screen cursing your writer's block. But at best, you'll discover your inspiration among your near-random experiments, or learn something new about your characters that you can use when you feel up to writing the "real" version.

(My very favorite moments as a writer come when my own characters surprise the Hell out of me. My best example is when I wrote the beginning of a novella-length story; the tense first encounter of two characters I intended to become friends and have various adventures. But I did one of these "way out there" exercises partway through, and one of the characters shot the other one dead for a candy bar. This made the piece into a very short story about her own desperation driving her to murder... and in the process, made it a much better story than the longer one I originally had in mind.)

Taking things in a direction other than you originally intended -- even if you haul it around to the same endpoint -- can be remarkably effective in bringing things back into focus.

-Chess

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#242517 - 05/13/07 10:18 AM Re: Writer's Block [Re: ]
Svengali Offline
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Registered: 03/06/03
Posts: 12460
Loc: Florida, U.S.A.
 Originally Posted By: AgainstTheDark


Director Robert Rodriguez said that screenwriters should write thier first script and then throw it out. Same with actually making a film. Just shoot something on tape or film and then scrap it, get the creative juices flowing!


That's pretty funny coming from someone who probably should have scrapped most films he made after his first one.
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#242520 - 05/13/07 10:21 AM Re: Writer's Block [Re: TheNaturalForce]
Svengali Offline
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Registered: 03/06/03
Posts: 12460
Loc: Florida, U.S.A.
I've never experienced this, but then I've never been concerned with writing fiction or poetry.

I've noticed I go in cycles of reading massive amounts of material without writing much, digesting what I've read, brainstorming/outlining the material and what I want to say about it, then fleshing out the outlines by writing the actual piece.

Maybe those suffering writing block should take a break from the actual writing for awhile and use the time to conceptualize and outline, put their ideas in order, for what they want to write when they are actually in the mood to crank it out.

Strong coffee is an active ingredient in each stage. ;\)
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Live and Let Die.
"If I have to choose between defending the wolf or the dog, I choose the wolf, especially when he is bleeding." -- Jaques Verges
"I may have my faults, but being wrong ain't one of them." -- Jimmy Hoffa
"As for wars, well, there's only been 268 years out of the last 3421 in which there were no wars. So war, too, is in the normal course of events." -- Will Durant.
"Satanism is the worship of life, not a hypocritical, whitewashed vision of life, but life as it really is." -- Anton Szandor LaVey
“A membership ticket in this party does not confer genius on the holder.” -- Benito Mussolini
MY BOOK: ESSAYS IN SATANISM | MY BLOG: COSMODROMIUM | Deep Satanism Blog

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#242765 - 05/14/07 07:31 AM Re: Writer's Block [Re: TheNaturalForce]
Foxy_Ramirez Offline


Registered: 01/16/04
Posts: 207
Loc: Lawrence, KS
Whenever I have problems working on music on my guitar, I start randomly playing different notes until something starts to come together. Other times I go back to basics and play some of the basic chords while just listening to the music. You could also look at the "out of focus picture" as being the realization in the first place. When it comes to art, there are times that no matter what you do, there simply isn't a wrong or right. The nature of art is subjective to opinion. You could try expressing your writers' block through the very art that it is blocking. Maybe that'll get it out of your system and you can go on with life.
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#242771 - 05/14/07 09:05 AM Re: Writer's Block [Re: TheNaturalForce]
Stian07 Offline


Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 45
Loc: Holmestrand, Norway.
hmm, when i encounter this problem, the writers block, i usely just take a walk, where i live at the moment is a quiet town, with beatiful nature, i live right next to the forest and the mountains.
and simply by walking i manage to concentrate my thouhgts and ideas, and come up with a way to "put the pieces together".

I dont know what it is, but just by walking, moving your legs and go from A to B can make the "whels in your head start spinning again".
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#243007 - 05/15/07 09:48 AM Re: Writer's Block [Re: TheNaturalForce]
Biff Offline


Registered: 06/20/06
Posts: 370
Loc: Hong Kong, SAR
I like writing music, metal music in particular.

I always have these blocks and times when I am not-motivated or no new inspiration comes to me.

What I do is I listen to music and just think about different tunes and different things about them that inspire me. When I listen to enough music it just dawns on me one day and I can lay down riffs just like that, it comes on a day when I'm usually happier or more active and not bogged down with other thoughts.

For writing, read a whole lot, and try less late nights (or late days ;D) and just sit there toying with ideas, forcing it on just never works for me.

But don't take my advice for sure, its just what I do when I have my 'writer's blocks'. You might as well try pouring all the terrible stuff out first like others before have recommended. I haven't tried it much myself, if I did and ended up with a terrible song I just shrug off the whole idea, so I'm not too persistent. Give it a try write something and let it out and go from there, something will hit you.
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