Archive for the ‘Writer’s Block’ Category


Writer’s Guilt

February 4, 2011

I’ve been taking a break from my novel lately. Partly, this is because I had the flu for a week. And partly, this is because we…um…(facial tick happening) we…uh…(eyes are darting around nervously) we really just needed a break.

Alright. You got me. I’m lying!

I’m not taking a break! I’m avoiding the damn thing! I’m running away. I’m In Hiding. I’ve put on my camouflage, I’m ducking and covering and sneaking past the computer on tip toe, shushing everybody: Be Quiet! Don’t wake it up!

And for that I am suffering a serious bout of Writer’s Guilt. Uhg.

Come on. You know that feeling. The I-am-supposed-to-be-writing-but-instead-think-organizing-my-socks-is-infinitely-more-interesting-and-its-not-just-so-my-hands-can-be-busy-while-I–mediate-on-my-plot-problems sort of feeling.

It’s avoidance, pure and simple.

Every writer knows deep inside when they need to take a break from their writing (to let the ideas settle, to gain perspective, to mull things over) and when they are out and out procrastinating.

Why? That is the question to answer. I know I love my characters. I know I love the process of creation. I know I want to finish it. I just can’t seem to get near it right now without feeling like a skittish filly.

Why? Perhaps I’m intimidated by how much work I have left to do. Perhaps my Inner Critic is overly active right now and I’m feeling sensitive.

Still, I need to jump back in. I need to re-read where I’ve been, get back in the vibe, maybe do a bit of free flow writing, just play and let the ideas come, the writing equivalent of jazz.

The remedy? Face my fears, I guess. JUST DO IT.

And I will. I promise. Maybe once this episode of Murdock Mysteries is over…

Oops. Nope. I better take care of this now.

My novel is barking at me. I better let it back in the house.

PS. Writers,  how do you overcome Writer’s Guilt?


Blah Blah Boring

September 24, 2010

I’ve a character in my novel who needs to explain a few things to the heroine. He needs to tell about what happened when he went to the Red Lion Inn a few days ago…its very important to the plot, so it must be done. This information must be revealed and he has to tell her . It can’t come across in flashbacks or a dream sequence or any other writer-trick, because the book’s written in the heroine’s voice, first person. He tells her the news and she tells the reader, and, of course, she reacts and converses back at him and tells the reader all about that, too.

Sounds simple?


It’s actually quite painful to write an explanation. Though necessary, the detail is tedious and it feels like it takes too long to impart. I’ve tried breaking it down into chunks, and delivering it via dialogue, interspersed with the heroines’ wry observations and her own lively reactions, but still it comes across like some kind of boring legal document, overloaded with detail after detail:

And so, in part a, subsection i, sub-subsection 1.0, the man then followed the other man down the street to the physicians.

In part a, subsection i, sub-section 1.1, the man waited outside the physician’s house for the man to reappear…

Either that, or I have a bad case of the “and then’s”, such as:

And then he followed him down the street. And then he waited outside. And then he saw a body being carried to a horse cart. And then…

ARG! How do I make this explanation less boring? Any and all suggestions greatly appreciated!


Drawing Blanks

June 21, 2010

I sat down to write today…to write anything: a scene in my novel, a blog, a tweet…and it was BLANK. Completely and utterly blank.

There is a moment of pure panic when this happens.

Even though I’ve been a writer for a very long time, and I understand the ebb & flow, the ying & yang, the highs & lows, the blocked & unblocked–how writing is circular, spiral, dashes and peaks & valleys but rarely a smooth, straight line–there is still a part of me that worries the writing is going to STOP.

Full stop. Never to return again.

Of course, just as I’m about to start wailing & bemoaning that ‘the writing is gone forever’…an idea comes to me….proving my fears unjustified…

At least until the next time….


(It’s not you, it’s me…) Taking a Break

June 14, 2010

Sometimes I argue with my writing—and it argues back.

When this happens, I know it’s time to take a break.

A relationship is meant to be fluid. Sometimes you can’t get enough of each other, you cling to each other like a vine to a trellis (oh my darling, never, ever leave me!). Other times, you are too easily irritated by each other (Writer: You’ve too many adverbs. Writing: And you’re breathing down my neck!)

Sometimes you just need space. Go water the garden. Let the computer/notebook bask in silence for awhile. Then come back and see each other with refreshed eyes. Maybe that will help you hold hands again.

Sometimes you just need a break.


[Frame It] to Keep the Writing Flowing

June 9, 2010

I’ve been working on a scene lately that is really fussy. I can’t quite get it how I want it.

It’s a funny scene. My novel is supposed to be a funny Regency Mystery…but there’s a fine line between a humorous homage and a spoof. I don’t want this to come across as some kind of Comedy Club Jane Austen Skit…

So I finally decided to apply the parentheses []. I often use [] when I’m writing, as an way to tell myself ‘this area needs to be revisited and reworked’. Sometimes I’ll use it as a way to mark details I can fill in later, perhaps after some research. For example:

Living in [location in London], they were often the last to arrive. OR

“I vow,” declared Lady [name], “That I read more books in two weeks than I usually do in a year!” OR

Before dinner, I practiced [name of Mozart music] to perfection.

Sometimes I put it around alternate phrasing, because I’m not sure which one I prefer. Such as:

My aunt [had retired for the night/was still at a dinner party]

This is the first time I’ve applied it to a whole scene, though.

For some reason, it’s only once I slap those suckers down, that I can let it go and move on. Got to keep the writing flowing!


Unblocked! Sound the Trumpets!

May 20, 2010

So I was finally able to decide: no Scottish brogue for Mr. H’s father.

How did I figure it out, you ask? What is the great method for discerning what should and should not go in a novel?

I have no bloody idea! It just sort of happens.

Yes, that is a weak answer. And I know there are instructional texts and courses out there that will tell one in great detail ‘What Every Good Novel Needs’. They might even propose some kind of formula: plot + character + eye of newt + turn twice clockwise = novel. Or some such thing.

But my main question seems to be: does it ‘feel’ right?

Honestly, I’m writing this thing by the seat of my pants. Intuitively. Mine is the ‘touchy feel-y’ approach.

And when I’m ‘in touch’ I can write. When I’m not ‘in touch’, I can’t–which is my definition of writer’s block.

Luckily, I got in touch today and the decree from on high was: no brogue. Progress! Yes!



May 17, 2010

Still can’t decide: Scottish brogue or no? In the scene or out? Can’t get a handle on it. My writing mind is as blocked as my sinus cavities. Stupid cold! Stupid writer’s block!

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