Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

“Writer’s Block” ~ Scourge or Challenge?


I’ve never suffered what’s called “writer’s block”.

I have, though, gone for long periods and not written a single word.

There is a difference between wanting to write and being incapable vs. having no intention to write.

I imagine it could be quite a challenge to think one can’t write (consciously) while actually having no intention (unconsciously).

I believe the reverse situation is impossible

It’s important to be clear about periods in a career when active production must retreat and the writing-self become submerged in the spaces of mind that mingle with archetypes and spiritual energies.

Now, having a clear need and desire to write yet experiencing inability to fill the page can be a torturous condition.

I had to go researching a bit to find potential remedies for writer’s block—as indicated, I’ve never had it

I found a rather comprehensive list of possible resolutions at Lifehack:

20 Ways to Kill Your Writer’s Block Forever

Do go read the whole article but here are the titles to urge you to click that link:

Don’t start with a blank page

Read more widely

Write what you feel like writing

Start anywhere

Use your lifeline

Don’t edit while you write

Create an “idiot’s outline”

Write without notes or quotes

Write something else

Review your past writing

Free associate

Do a mind map

Set a timer

Create a deadline

Reduce noise

Turn off the Internet

Try a writing prompt

Do more research

Change your location

Take a break

Do you regularly have writer’s block?

Have you never experienced it?

Do you have other methods you use to keep it out of your writing life?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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17 responses to ““Writer’s Block” ~ Scourge or Challenge?

  1. Jenn Thorson April 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I haven’t had specific writer’s block, where I couldn’t write if I wished. But I do a tremendous amount of writing regularly for my day job. It’s a different type of writing than the fiction I do in my free time. But because it takes a lot of mental resources, I do go through spurts where I just do NOT want to write fiction in my off-hours. I actually find I enjoy doing more visual arts hobbies during this time, where typically, I get my motivation back.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai April 26, 2012 at 12:24 pm

      Aha, Jenn!!

      Visual Arts—Excellent!!!

      Like

  2. martinaseveckepohlen April 27, 2012 at 2:36 am

    I never had writer’s block but I remember my time at university when I had to write assignments. These were the days of transition from type writer to computer. I sometimes sat in front of a white sheet of paper, looked at my stack of photo copies and another stack of books and wondered how on earth I was to put all I had read into ten pages. After reading the post at Lifehack I find that I intuively used most of the ways listed there. The best way for me is to get words onto the paper. They don’t have to be perfect, that is one important thing I learned at university. Words can be changed and often have to be changed, but first they have to be there. So I start writing any sentence that comes into my mind. It’s a bit like pulling the cork out of a bottle. The words flow and suddenly the first few paragraphs are written.

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    • Alexander M Zoltai April 27, 2012 at 3:12 am

      I love it: “…pulling the cork out of a bottle.”

      I spent many decades of my life writing very little because of an insane feeling that, if I couldn’t put it down right the first time, I shouldn’t put it down at all

      It wasn’t until my forties that I could “permit” myself to edit………

      Like

      • martinaseveckepohlen April 27, 2012 at 9:56 am

        This feeling wasn’t insane at all. Think about how solid a printed book looks, think about the veneration for writers and the printed word a good teacher, English in your case, German in mine, can raise in a young mind. Someone in this blog mentioned words scratched in stone recently. They couldn’ t be changed, they were finished and perfect (in a very basic sense of the word, of course). A printed book by a great author is perfect – who would dare thinking of the process, the growth of the text? – Only another writer.

        Like

        • Alexander M Zoltai April 27, 2012 at 11:21 am

          Martina,
          I meant insane in the sense of its etymological root-meanings: from L. patiens “suffering.” Ger. verrückt, lit. pp. of verrücken “to displace”, though I do like, very much, what you said

          Also, I tried to leave you a note on your blog last night (many times) and this morning but it kept saying the site was down for maintenance so, here’s the message:

          I added your site to my “Notes from An Alien” blogroll :-)

          Like

          • martinaseveckepohlen April 27, 2012 at 3:45 pm

            Thank you for adding my site to your blogroll. Do you read German?

            Like

            • Alexander M Zoltai April 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm

              No, I don’t read German but Goggle Translate does :-)

              Like

              • martinaseveckepohlen April 27, 2012 at 4:09 pm

                I see :-)

                Like

  3. Simone Benedict April 27, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Interesting post. Your comment about your inner editor is as well, Alexander. That little annoying but necessary guy needs to be given a timeout when the muse is trying to speak, I think. ;-)

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai April 27, 2012 at 12:04 pm

      Well, Simone, thanks for jarring my mind!

      Perhaps the decades of not letting myself write because I thought I wasn’t allowed to edit were actually an extended honeymoon with my Muse :-)

      Like

  4. Barbara Blackcinder April 27, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    Once again some more very helpful writing tips. In particular, “20 ways to leave your blockage.”
    Thanks so much Alex and Lifehack.

    Like

    • Alexander M Zoltai April 27, 2012 at 4:43 pm

      You are Very Welcome, Barbara :-)

      Like

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  6. Barbara Blackcinder May 3, 2012 at 10:04 am

    Here’s some more… I hope it is drawing to a conclusion soon….. :-) (I hope the formatting is messed up, I had some trouble with MSWord… )

    This is Chapter Eight
    Barbara Blackcinder
    Ch. – Words 400-500:

    “What kind of banker’s language is that?” I asked my friend who had brought me a sheath of papers to sign. He read what my finger was pointing at and reassembled what I had read into something I could understand.
    “You mean this puts all my assets in both my name, and my husbands?” I asked incredulously. I was instantly outraged and grabbed a fistful of his paper and nearly launched them across the room. Instead I reconsidered that he was one of few friends I had, especially in the banking industry.
    As I set them on the table he began unfolding them like he was trying to open a map. I felt sorry for the poor man as I watched a couple pages fall to the floor. I was also sorry that he was going to have to bring these back to the bank for reading by his bosses. Then I realized that it didn’t matter in any case.
    “I’m not going to sign anything like that.” I both reassured him with my intentions, but disappointed him by refusing to sign them.
    “How the hell did that get in there anyway? Don’t you and your bosses check the whole thing right down to the bottom line, before you send it out here?” I asked, just as angrily as I had when I crushed his paperwork. I knew I was alone around here, at least until I talked to my daughter. I surely wasn’t going to include my husband in the money won through the lawsuit. It wasn’t that he wasn’t welcome to some of it, I wasn’t trying to be greedy, but I wasn’t going to let him drain it as he did all of our finances in the past.
    “I don’t know,” the banker was telling me. “I don’t remember dictating that to my secretary.” He was flipping through the pages rapidly, acting very unlike a banker. When he finished the pages were all wrinkles and he had loosely stacked them into a tall sloppy pile. His face was sweating, his mouth hanging open, almost gaping at me when he looked up.
    “This isn’t the document that I worked up for you.” He stated, dropping it on me like a rock. His eyes nearly bulged as he looked at me with astonished look then began rifling through the papers once again. He stopped suddenly, his hand shaking as it held down some pages.
    “Can I have a glass of water?” he asked weakly. His vertically striped shirt was clinging to his round chest, showing his build as he sweated under it. But it was an expensive shirt and didn’t actually show through. His gold cufflinks were shiny as the held his sleeves onto the papers.
    “Who else could have given you these papers?” I asked as I turned to fill the glass. I held it low on the refrigerator to drop some ice chips into it as well. I didn’t really care if I let moisture from the glass drop into the pile now, they were totally useless to me. One page stuck to his hand as he reached for the water , dropping it under the table where my foot was.
    We didn’t know how it had happened, but someone most of the legal document had been switched except for the top page and where I was supposed to sign. It was clearly meant to by my friend who wasn’t expected to read through the whole thing after his dictation and its typing.
    He continued looking through it for another hour, marking and circling paragraphs and sections in some unknown pattern that I couldn’t understand. He also wrote in tiny letters that I couldn’t read, using abbreviations that only the banking world understood.
    “Do you have a safe here?” he asked finally. He had regrouped the papers into something that nearly looked like what it had when he set on the table for the first time. I thought that bankers must have tiny irons in their fingertips to make paper flatten almost like it had come out of the copy machine. But neatness was the least of my problems. I had no idea if my friend had a safe here or not. The legal paper wasn’t especially wide, but it was quite long. I began thinking of places that I could hide it short of finding a safe. The next question was if I did manage to find one, where would I find the combination for it?
    I held the papers while he was backing out of the door. “I can’t say for sure it was Mike that changed the papers, but I would suspect him first. At least he has the motivation to do something like this. He also tried something like this before also.” His teeth becamed gritted as he continued, his anger showing in his jaw. “He switched some small words, making it seem like it was a small boat. Later on when the contract was signed, his client drove off a fifty-thousand dollar yacht that he never deserved.”
    He was sweating again, but it only showed on his face. “That in itself wasn’t enough for the firm to punish him, and the law wouldn’t allow us to redo a signed contract, so the judge let it stay like that.” He pressed his hat onto his head and gave a final addition to the story. He stopped and looked right into my eyes
    “This is the same thing. The only client that he could possibly be working for would be your husband. Nobody else benefits from the changes made, and no one else pays for it but you.” He concluded as he pulled the door closed between us.
    I stared out of the window and into a field when I realized he hadn’t told me what he was going to do about the altered contract, or for that matter, what I should do as well. All I knew was that I should hide it somewhere, preferably in a safe.
    Standing in the center of an upstairs room, I looked at the street below. Someone had gotten a flat tire and a man had stopped to help them repair it. Neither of them looked familiar, the man doing the work had noticed the tire as he walked by.
    I looked up in the sky next, watching the pattern change in the clouds. I didn’t know I was going to miss the weather on the beach, the wild winds that blew most of the time from one direction or another. I thought of it while I watched the small car the size of a bicycle being picked up by one end. The woman lay in the leaves taking it easy.
    Suddenly I realized that I knew the man changing the tire. It was hard to notice at first, but I recognized him by his overall build when he took off his jacket despite the rain that had started falling. Her other encounter with him had been face to face while he was trying to force her into a compromise in his office. It was the bastard that had tried to swindle her instead of paying her medical bills.
    She was sue the rain had turned to snow as she watched him. Her blood was cold and she was too angry to do the simple act of backing away from the window. It was a real stab in her heart as she wondered why he was outside of her window pretending to be just passing by. She knew he had cost him his job, and a possible jail sentence if he tried anything like that again. The lenient punishment sat very heavily on her, but she knew the connection between the judge and the doctor. She had been too naïve to realize that she could have gotten the judge in deep trouble as well for not admitting that he was a relative of the doctor. Although she hadn’t known it at the time either. By the time she did his sentence had been confirmed and she thought that it was unlikely that anything would change. She just wanted to distance herself from the whole thing.
    She watched him carry the small tire to the trunk and place it inside. She knew that she could get him in quite a lot of trouble now though. He wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near her, and it was unlikely that he could claim that this incident was accidental. It was now the third time he had run into her. She had realized that the shooter at the other house had also been him now that she had seen him close since then. The fact that they met at a grocery store once on the island could have been accidental. Many people vacationed there, and he was operating a fairly large boat. Someone had told her that it easily had been sold for at least fifty-thousand dollars.
    She was shocked as she watched things begin to pile themselves up in her head. The boat tied him to the lawyer’s office, she was sure that her friend was going to connect the two of them, it was just too coincidental. It was clear that he still had some tight connections to people in the office, even without having a job at the bank any longer.
    It was shocking when she suddenly realized that she also knew the blond woman as well. She had just made the connection to the lawyers by herself. Down by the car she seemed to willing, and way too relaxed about having someone she didn’t know fixing her vehicle. The idea that this was a setup was confirmed then. She was the one that insisted that the firm ship papers back and forth to the island. Her friend had found an error even then and had personally come out there to give her the intended paperwork.
    Her blood became ice as she looked down at the floor. The enemy were once more within striking distance of her. Her throat was dry as she considered that her friend had probably unwittingly led them to her hideout. Her shell of safety had just been compromised once again and she could only watch them playing their game below here.
    Running down the stairs, she had decided to bring the system to its knees if she had to. It was their game, and they had everything going for them, but they weren’t going to leave until everyone had some of her money. It was money that they had caused her to take in the first place.
    Now she had another thought of how beautiful the whole plan had been. She began to follow the trail of evidence carefully. Her feet seemed heavy as she looked deep into the plan that must have started sometime last winter or longer. It was no longer a problem for her to make the connections that began when her husband began seeking to have the power of their money, and legally. It was a strange request considering that they both knew it was all his fault that they were going bankrupt.
    She remembered when he had gone outside of their usual lawyer and found a firm that promised him some kind of wealth for their services. I could see his mind working, and I had no doubt that they were animals all ready to bay. There was no moon around, but there was the attraction of money. It was something that they could understand much better anyway.
    The accident forced me to spend the summer on the island, but it was likely they had intended to put an end to my. I missed any attempt to kill me there, but it looked like they were finally getting around to getting rid of me. Until I was gone, the banker wouldn’t get his money, the doctor wouldn’t get his revenge, and probably some money as well.
    The warm spot I once had for my husband had already gone away completely. Just as his money was spent on his schemes, I suspected that any affection he once held for me was also long gone. I had been a cash source for him for far too many years. It was either set up this plan to create some money out of nothing , or lose any possible source of it. I’m sure he chose money instead of dying broke.
    There was also the life insurance policy that he had come up with out of the blue. Since we were practically out on the road anyway, I didn’t see any difference if one of us got some sympathy money if the other of us died.
    She ran out of the house with a video camera pointed directly at the girl and the doctor. Rising up on the ball of her foot, she angled the camera past her and down at him on the other side of the car. It was getting dark but she went around the car and the camera picked up his round face in very fine detail.
    The film had made a connection between the two offices, her first near loss in the doctor’s office, and the subsequent one that was now occurring for any money she would get from the settlement.
    They were shocked at her audacity and were still stunned when she returned to the house before they could even react. Of course, she didn’t seem the type to make much of an effort, and he had just been shocked at her behavior.
    She locked the door and called the police. It wasn’t her fault if it looked like the car had hit a pedestrian. Sirens didn’t take long before they were heard in the distance. Losing any pretense of not knowing each other, he jumped into the driver’s seat and they flew away from the scene. Of course she had gotten it all on film. Her stomach dropped though as she wondered if his rifle had been in the vehicle somewhere.

    Barbara Blackcinder.

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