Charlie Jane Anders gives some excellent advice about coping with the different types of writer’s block. It’s an interesting list to begin with, because some of the types I never face and some I always face. I’m sure it’s the same for all writers.
1. You can’t come up with an idea.
This never happens to me. I have a million and one ideas. I have enough ideas for write books for about a thousand years. I also have enough fabric to quilt for a thousand years, but that’s beside the point. I’m always amazed when I’m either taking or teaching a class and one of the students says they don’t know what to write about. In fact when I first started teaching screenwriting I didn’t even discuss getting ideas. I just assumed that every student would be overflowing with ideas, as I am. Why else become a writer?
When people find out I’m a writer they often ask “Where do you get your ideas?”. I’m always perplexed by this question. This is like asking a long distance runner “Where do you find places to run?”. I just step outside my door and start running. I just open my eyes and my brain and the ideas pour in. Isn’t it like this for everyone? I guess not.
The only time I have trouble thinking of things to write about is with this blog.
2. You have a ton of ideas but can’t commit to any of them, and they all peter out.
Ahhh, see? This is me. Although I do commit to things. Often I commit about 75% of the way, which for a novel is a lot of work. Problem is that last 25%.
3. You have an outline but you can’t get through this one part of it.
I almost never outline. Stupid, I know. Bad writer! BAD!
4. You’re stuck in the middle and have no idea what happens next.
Yep, been there. Done that. Sometimes something DOES happen that I had no idea was going to happen. Often I’m as surprised as my characters when the plot twists. Lucky them, they just have to face whatever comes next. I have to deal with all the plot holes it leaves in its wake.
5. You have a terrible feeling your story took a wrong turn a hundred pages back, and you only just hit a dead end.
Sigh. I feel this way about my career too.
6. You’re bored with all these characters, they won’t do anything.
This rarely happens to me, although I am often bored with myself.
7. You keep imagining all the reasons people are going to say your story sucks, and it paralyzes you.
This is not really my thing. I don’t give a sh*t what people think. I realize this is a problem of course, since I’m trying to write books that people will want to publish and read. Maybe I should work on this. Get some therapy or something. Yoga maybe.
8. You can’t think of the right words for what you’re trying to convey in this one paragraph.
Nah. Because I was a screenwriter I often revert back to the simplest language. Simple is often the best.
9. You had this incredibly cool story in your head, and now you’re turning it into words on a screen and it’s suddenly dumb.
Oh yeah. especially if I thought of it and jotted it down late at night then tried to write it in the morning. It reminds me of that scene in Adaptation where he speaks into his pocket recorder thinking it’s brilliant only to despair at what he’s recorded minutes later.
10. You’re revising your work, and you can’t see your way past all those blocks of text you already wrote.
Oh, that I could get to the revision stage. I’m still stuck at 75% of the first draft. On three different projects.