Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Writer's block... I found my answer! How do YOU overcome it?

Firstly, when I heard about Peter Falk's death, I was gutted. It immediately dawned on me that he (& Sherlock) got me into the mystery scene as a kid. R.I.P. Columbo.

"Just one more thing..." (sorry, couldn't resist).

I've been doing a lot of research lately, intertwined with spasmodic spells of writing my current novel. However, I recently hit, what I call 'plot-block'. It's closely related to 'writers' block', but I tend to get this amid the intricacies of longer works. Whereas, with short stories an idea just pops into my head, soon followed by a title and, within an hour or so, I have something to mould into shape. The process with shorter works is so much smoother.

Anyway, last weekend I'd been looking forward to a couple of blank diary days, but when the time came, I just found myself struggling at a crossroads, not knowing which way to turn...

It was deeply frustrating, as I really wanted to crack on and get stuck in.  Remembering past writing sessions that flowed, I began searching in the kitchen cupboards for a tipple.  And there it was... in a box... the answer... an unopened bottle of Martell's cognac with '2000' emblazoned in multi-colour on the box. Three glasses later, and I wrote till five in the morning! 

I know it's somewhat stereotypical for a writer, drinking to find the elusive muse, but it worked for me.  So, I found my answer... if you write, then how do YOU overcome writer's block?

Ps. I'm booked into an AA meeting next Friday!


Charlie Wade said...

I've usually got at least 4 short stories or books on the go. If I hit a plot problem, I leave it and write something else until I think of a way round.

Dean Crawford said...

Amazingly I've never had writer's block before. However, I do find that a small tipple works wonders for creativity. If I ever did get blocked, I reckon a good walk / run to blow the cobwebs away would sort me out...

Paul D. Brazill said...

Like Charlie, I just write something else. Unfortunately, I can't write when I'm boozing g, or even have a slight hangover. So, I'm jealous!

Luca Veste said...

I suffer from 'Second paragraph block'. I'll write a good opening paragraph and that's as far as I get!

Sandra Patterson said...

Haha! Good post, Col. I find the trouble with writing under the influence is sobering up to discover it's all crap. Then I get even more depressed and blocked. But if it works for you, best of luck.

Col Bury said...

I've used that tactic before. Usually leave the novel to write a short.

I don't get it that often, but it bugs me when I do. It's great that you're 'block free'. I wonder if keeping fit helps...? Like the idea of a run to clear the mind. Sometimes a shower does this too.

I'm pretty useless with a hangover too. The key is to not have too much to drink, just enough to loosen the mind. Check out my short 'Respect' on TKnC - I wrote it after a lot of wine. You can tell, it's a tad aggressive! :-)

Hi Luca,
Welcome to my blog. Hopefully a few of the suggestions here can help you. Great interview with Neil White on your blog, BTW. Will read Nick Quantrill's when I get home from work tonight.

LOL. I know what you mean, but if you read it back when you're pissed up, then it reads well. Maybe I could write for, and build up, an audience of alcoholics, who really appreciate the work. Imagine the book signings! :-)

I recall reading that Stephen King wrote one of his bestsellers while totally bladdered. So, if it's good enough for the king...


Chris Rhatigan said...

Yeah, alcohol never provided much help for me. Caffeine or nicotine on the other hand have proved excellent.

I hit plot blocks sometimes too. It's not like the muse isn't working, it's just that I realize that the story has nowhere good to go. Since I write only short stuff it's no big deal--just move onto the next one or dig up an old idea.

Jodi MacArthur said...

Hey Col,
I totally understand you! I hit this several times when I'm writing a novel. I hate it. I mean HATE it. The ways I get around it are sneaky things. I find holes in the wall. I look at the character I'm writing and I consider a piece of his or her past, personality,nationality, religion, or something they are trying to hide or ignore. Let's say if he or she has a bit of Russian in them, I decide what part of Russia they are from and look up a part of the history. Often times that leads to quite the ride and I find many interesting things that lead to many interesting thoughts that leads to a weird quirky quality about the character that would never have been there before that gets me around or through the wall. If that doesn't work, I'll do this for another character, or the town or a made up town, or an insect or a weapon. Or a gang. Anything my mind can clutch at until I can find something and run with it. Often times, I will completely "Jump" the scene and go to another character or scene that interests me more, then I go back later and figure out how the two connect. Don't know if this helps, but this is how I get through it. And yes! A glass of wine or vodka helps loosen my mind if there's too much "me" inside of it. Cheers!

Col Bury said...


I don't seem to get it with shorts. They just flow, once the idea is there.

Oh, and I use caffeine 'n' nicotine too!

Tremendous suggestions! Hope you don't mind, but I'll be copy 'n' pasting your comments to Word. Really helpful - thanks.