1. Ben414

    Ben414 Contributor Contributor

    Aug 1, 2013
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    Avoid writer's block and create a story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Ben414, Feb 12, 2015.

    I've recently started using two methods for avoiding my writer's block that have been working well for me, so I thought I'd share them. First off, these methods are primarily aimed towards allowing a writer to further construct his or her own story. While I'm not sure if all writer's block can be attributed to rejection/perfection paralysis or not knowing your story well enough, I think those things have caused me and other writers trouble.

    1. Ditch the computer for pen and paper. This may be more idiosyncratic to myself, but I often freeze up when trying to plan aspects of my story on a computer. I've read an author state that typing doesn't mesh well with how her brain works, and I think this may be the case with me as well. When I'm trying to come up with ideas, I want my process to be as free style as possible. Sometimes that means drawing impromptu arrows connecting ideas, or underlining things to keep them in the back of my mind, or writing on the side of the paper if it's less important, etc. Handwriting is more conducive to this than typing.

    In addition--and perhaps more importantly--I don't face the distraction of the internet being one click away.

    2. Limit yourself--both your topic and the amount of time you will spend on it. This method is geared toward people who have rejection or perfection paralysis. I recently read Coffee Break Screenwriting, which had numerous exercises that would help a writer write his or her story. The author recommended giving yourself only 10 minutes to complete each exercise, with the intent that your brain will be able to focus better when it has a time and topic limitation. Her first exercise, for example, consisted of thinking up ideas for: your protagonist, your protagonist's problem, your protagonist's activity, and what's at stake for your protagonist. The exercises can then progress depending on how far along you are with your story. You might be surprised how many good ideas you can come up with in 10 minutes.

    These two methods may not work for everyone and may not work every time, but they're something to consider if you're facing writer's block.
    Tesoro, lustrousonion and minstrel like this.
  2. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Jul 11, 2010
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    Near Sedro Woolley, Washington
    I like the idea of working with pen and paper. I often do this myself - it makes me feel more in control of the process.

    I wonder if that's a function of age. I grew up in the 60s and 70s - those were my childhood and teen years. There were no personal computers and no word processors. I eventually got a typewriter, but it was a bit scary because if I made a typo (which I did an awful lot) correcting it was a huge pain in the ass. Liquid Paper, usually. Eventually I had one of those eraser ribbons, but it still was a pain. It was damn hard to make a typed page look properly finished.

    At that time, it was simply easier to write by hand. Nobody expected anything beyond simple legibility, and I could do that. It also slowed me down and made me think, not only about what I wanted to say but the exact words I wanted to say it with, before I set the pen to the paper. My prose is still a lot better if I write it out by hand first before transcribing it to the laptop.

    But kids who grew up with computers probably think completely differently about this. They've never really had to use pen and paper. The computer is their pen and paper - it's as fluid an interface for them as pen and paper is for me. If you tell them to work with pen and paper, they look at you like you're from another planet - or from the ancient past.
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  3. ArnaudB

    ArnaudB Member

    Apr 12, 2012
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    I found the same thing true about computer and paper. It's very easy to get distracted while on the computer.

    Recently, I have gone back to paper and pen and it has gotten me over a block. Another important lesson was that... there aren't scenes not worth writing. If you can envision a scene then you should be able to write it, otherwise it's a lack of practice... which is solved only by writing the scene.

    A third lesson was that people read trash. Bad fanfictions is prominent, and it can be weirdly encouraging to see how people can read and love absolute garbage. If you're feeling bad about your writing, go read some bad fanfictions. It's so awful yet so many people love it that you shall no longer fear people reading you. Clearly among those abominations your writing won't be in danger.
    It helps.

    A fourth note on computer. I still use it as the quality is much better on computer. I have taken to organize the narration more than make it proper on paper, which saves me a lot of time actually. Writing on computer allows for rewrite and overall much better quality, but only when you've part to string together or rework on.
    It's, for me at least, much easier to focus on a scene while writing on paper.

    Also, music. Don't use music while organizing your scenes and considering what characters feel. Music is wonderful when you've things written out and need to put the feel in. But when you aren't sure whether to scrap a scene or which tone you should be using... then it's just distracting.
  4. NiallRoach

    NiallRoach Contributor Contributor

    Jan 7, 2015
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    The middle of the UK
    I'm kind of self limiting when it comes to writing; there's a point where I'll just have to stop for the day/week/month.

    On the computer note, I'm really not a fan of writing with a pen and paper. I find the entire process limiting. I can't fix clunky phrasing, I get twitchy as I approach the bottom of the page and my wrist starts falling off the bottom of the page, I never keep a notebook pristine enough...
    That aside, I genuinely enjoy the process of typing for more than I do writing by hand. The clicking of keyboard, if occasionally obnoxiously loud, is order of magnitude more satisfying to me in the heat of the moment, even if the finished product doesn't quite have the same "tada!".
  5. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

    May 11, 2013
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    Virginia, United States
    I use pen and paper as well, and I'm 26, so I don't think it's an age thing. I only use pen and paper for my ideas though. Once I start actually writing, I switch to computer. It's too slow to write the story by hand then transfer it onto the computer. But I have notebooks upon notebooks on novel ideas and free writing and all that. :)
    minstrel likes this.
  6. nastyjman

    nastyjman Senior Member

    Sep 27, 2010
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    I did an experiment with writing a whole first draft just with pen and paper. At first, it was tiresome, but the scenes and the dialogue inside my head were more vivid than typing it out pell-mell. When it came to revising it, I was met with another stomach turner--retyping. As I retyped everything, I found out that I was editing the same time, and the sentences were falling into place. My fingers stopped when I began typing a sentence that I felt was bad, like really bad. At that point, I rewrite it rather than retype it. After finishing the second draft, about 90% of the first draft was rewritten.

    Right now, I prefer writing my first drafts with pen and paper. The next draft is retyping/rewriting--anything that sucks will not make it, kinda' like a writing evolution if you will.
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