Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Road Trip Wednesday: Writer's Block

This week, the good ladies over at YA Highway have posed this question:

How do you beat writer's block?

I think this is a topic we all have something to say about, unless I suppose you're some sort of freak who never gets writer's block. WHO ARE YOU? WHAT IS YOUR SECRET?

I saw a funny tweet once (can't remember who) that said something like, Gangsters go to the mattresses--writers go to the showers. It's true, I've had a plotting breakthrough or two in the shower. Also while running, or cooking, or playing Attack Horses with my cat. 

Sometimes the key to beating writer's block is as simple as letting myself write a really crappy first sentence, using brute force to get that first awful paragraph down. Sometimes it involves a Google spreadsheet and a hundred cells of stream-of-consciousness notes. Picking up someone else's book and reading for a while can help untangle the brain snarl too.

Speaking of other people's books, this reminds me of another piece of advice that Laurie Halse Anderson shared at SCBWI LA (taken originally from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way): Make an artist's date once a month, if not once a week. This is a regularly scheduled time that you spend feeding your creativity, and there are countless ways you can do this. I found a good page here with some ideas, including flying a kite or coloring in a coloring book. I was thinking something more along the lines of going to a museum or listening to live music, but taking a pottery class sounds like a good idea too.

I don't usually think of myself as an artist when I'm writing, but when we're creating stories out of thin air, we really are. So I guess on top of your writer's block cure, I'm really curious about what you do to feed your creativity. Do you pursue anything artistic outside of writing?


  1. An artist date...good idea...I don't always appreciate how other forms of creativity could inspire my writing.

  2. Yes, my ideas often come while in the shower or doing dishes! :)

  3. I'm a fan of the crappy sentence. It often opens the door to mediocre ones. Then, perhaps, to some really good ones.

  4. If I'm having a really hard time, I usually play a video game, read a book, or watch a movie. Being carried along by a story usually helps me to think up more of my own. :)

  5. Hi Rachel,
    Congrats on winning The Burning Place over at my blog. Can you email me your mailing address at:
    joannebrothwell (at) sasktel (dot) net

    Thank you!

  6. Love the idea of an "artist's date" when I can be away from everything to encourage my creativity. So stealing that. :)

  7. Hehe so true, I think every writer has had a magical moment (writing-wise, of course) in the shower.

    I also crochet to feed my creativity. It's a newer hobby, only a few months old, so I'm finally getting past the frustrating learning part, and getting into the creative fun part.

  8. Ooo, I like this "artist date" idea! I do try to participate in other artistic endeavors (namely photography and design), but I hadn't thought about using those as a cure for writers block. I'll have to give it a try. Thanks!

  9. I need to schedule an artist date for myself.

  10. I'm a graphic artist during the day, so I get to release my inner creative every day. I also love to cook with doesn't seem creative until you screw up a recipe six times while trying to get it jussst right. I've read about artist date's. Good idea.

  11. I am not at all creative outside of writing. I'm pretty sure doing nothing creative for the first 8 hours of the day at my day-job is what makes my creativity burst at night, and because of this I haven't experienced writer's block in long, long time. :)

  12. I also like the idea of an artist date, I don't really do anything creative though I read too much and that really inspires me to write.
    I get ideas when I am walking and annoyingly when I am trying to get to sleep, my brain keeps running through stories.
    My best idea came from a dream, I always have very vivid strange dreams that I usally forget straight away but this one stuck so I wrote it down..