"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by doing so some people have entertained angels without knowing it." - Hebrews 13:2

Monday, April 16, 2012

Writer's Block

A few weeks ago, I had a touch of the <insert deep, echoing voice> dreaded Writer’s Block.

For nearly nine days, I couldn’t write. I had no direction, no ideas, and no desire…not even a plot in my head. Blank! And right in the middle of a chapter to boot. In over ten years of writing, I had experienced one or two minor blocks before, but never one this long.

The root of this block was stress. As we know, stress can kill anything.

As I came out on the other side, I realized that the stress - Stress? Me? Nah, I'm not stressed!!! - was strangling my creative juices. The pressure wasn’t from one big thing. It was several small anxieties building up and was combined with a minor health issue—none of which had anything to do with my writing life.

Writer’s lives take on many forms, but we still deal with the everyday issues involving family, health, work, finances, and so on.

Prayer, meditation, and exercise, brought me out of the stress cave. It’s funny because when I finally sat down to write, I plunked down nearly 1 K in a very short time. Woot! I’m back! It felt good.

Have you ever experienced writer’s block? What did you do to find your way back?

Between you, me and the gatepost,



Victoria Lindstrom said...

Yes, I have definitely experienced writer's block. Stress is usually the culprit for me, too. If I can resolve the problem, I do. If it's something we just have to work through, reading helps a lot for me. Thanks, Loree.

Sandra Orchard said...

Glad to hear you've come out of it. I've experienced it a number of times. Brainstorming with a couple of other writers often helps me find my way. Sometimes, I just need to take care of all those other niggling things on my "to do" list for a few days, and then start fresh. Our minds are doing a lot in the background during that time, I think, which explains the burst of new words. :)

Sarah Forgrave said...

So wise, Loree. I'm in the process of pruning my responsibilities for this very reason. It's not a fun process, but I know my writing will be stronger as a result.

Julie Jarnagin said...

Ugh! Writer's block is no fun. Glad you're on the other side of it.

Brandi said...

Writer's block is a beast! Some writers claim it doesn't really exist, but I think otherwise. Stress does bring it on. Good that you got past it. I make myself sit down and write something, even if it's complete drivel, lol.

Keli Gwyn said...

It's so frustrating when the words aren't flowing. What helped me during my driest season was to keep on writing. I gave my permission to slap words on the page, knowing they weren't great and might well need to be deleted. The result was that I broke through that wall, and I got back to the business of writing. The surprise was that what I'd written during those down days was better than I'd thought.

Hugs to you as you work your way through this tough time, Loree.

Melanie N. Brasher said...

Oh yes, I've been there. For me the best thing is just to sit down and write whatever comes to my head.

Congrats on breaking through!

Jessica R. Patch said...

I sometimes have what I like to call, "Twisters". It's where I get stuck laying out the twist in my story. Usually, I have to take a break and then talk it out loud. To myself but I prefer to rattle to a live person. My twister untwists so I can write the twist. :)

Glady you're stress free (Big Ha. Ha.) But seriously, glad you're back at it!

Tracy Krauss said...

I'm not really sure if I've experienced it... I know I've had stress in my life, but then again I try not to impose too strict a schedule on myself when it comes to writing. Often I turn to a different creative medium like painting, or I read.

Charlotte Sannazzaro said...

You already know about the bout I had recently. That wasn't particularly brought on by stress, just by trying to force the story in a particular way. Then the stress of trying to figure out dried up my creative well even more!

I think sometimes we expect too much of ourselves - we can't write like machines all the time. We have to trust that the muse will returned when we are refreshed and ready. Great to hear you're on the other side!

Gwendolyn Gage said...

Yes, I am well-acquainted with writer's block. I usually turn on a sountrack or start writing whatever comes into my head, hoping that something will give me an idea. :-) It can be pretty hilarious...

Loree Huebner said...

Victoria: Stress is a culprit! I like that reading helps you.

Sandra: Brainstorming with other writers is a great idea. I did have a burst of new words and it was awesome. What ever made it happen, I'm glad it did!

Sarah: Yes! Pruning our responsibilities does help. Sometimes we are just overwhelmed!

Julie: Thanks...it feels good to be out of the dark.

Brandi: Writer's block is a beast! I did write everyday...but it was forced and didn't feel like my normal groove. It was the stress no doubt.

Keli: Thanks for sharing about your dry season. It helps to know that I'm not alone and it happens to everyone. Like I told Brandi, I did write, but it was strained. It feels so good to be back. Thanks for the hugs!

Melanie: Thanks for encouragement! AND a big congrats to you and your family! I'm so happy for you!

Jessica: Talking out loud does help with these "twister" things. I've had those before. Stress free? Yep, big ha ha!

Tracy: Turning to a different creative medium is an interesting concept. Getting some great tips here from everyone!

Charlotte: I remember your bout with the block. I do think we have certain expectations...we do just have to trust that it will come back.

Gwen: I'm a soundtrack fan! I do get inspiration from a great soundtrack. Music can help break the block. Great tip, Gwen!

Thanks everyone! Thanks for sharing your experiences, and your tips for busting the block! I enjoyed reading your comments - Victoria, Sandra, Sarah, Julie, Brandi, Keli, Melanie, Jessica, Tracy, Charlotte, and Gwen. You guys are awesome!

Beth K. Vogt said...

Glad you're back, Loree!
I've dealt with writer's block -- and with writer's fright too.
Writer's fright is a bit different, in that, I knew what I wanted to write and I had a good reason to get writing too: a contract. But I froze, not unlike an actor who knows his lines and gets onstage and ... freezes.
It was the worst of times.
I wasted valuable time -- weeks -- not writing. Finally my writers group verbally dogpiled me and said, "Write something. Anything. And bring it next week."
That was what broke me out of the fear that I would blow my lines -- that I would fail my assignment. Just writing something, no matter how bad it was.

troutbirder said...

Not really. But then I'm not doing real writing like you... i.e. book, magazine, newspaper column etc. I try to come up with a fun or interesting topic say once a week for my nature block and then a book or movie review for a TII post. Going thru a huge file of picture albums and now digitals I taken over the years often gives ideas and then if all else fails and I've been blogging almost five years there is always the go back and modify or just recycle an old post... :)

Loree Huebner said...

Beth: WOW! Thanks for sharing that bit on writer's "fright" - I believe that's very real. I don't think I've experienced that to the extreme as you, but I can see where it stems from.

trout: Sometimes I have block when writing blog posts. Like you, sometimes I do go through pictures to spark a topic. You have such wonderful and interesting pictures of nature on your blog...plus we all love your German Shepherd!

Beth and trout, thanks for stopping in and sharing your experiences. I loved reading your comments!

Shelley Sly said...

I've experienced this as well. I'm very easily stressed, so that usually does it. Also, if I write too much in too short of a time, I get burned out and get writer's block as a consequence. So I try to write 1-2K a day (on a good day) while not going overboard and burning myself out.

Deana said...

I just came out of one myself and for me it just took time. I was so worried that it wouldn't end and then last night while I was in bed it just happened. I got and idea and then poof, it was gone. Stress is always a factor for me with writers block. I think our lives definitely influence our writing life.
I'm glad you got past yours Loree!

Rhonda Schrock said...

I'm thrilled that you climbed out of it. So glad that Jesus knows we're made of dust and that His storehouse of creativity never runs low. I'm counting on it. :)

Lynda R Young said...

It's amazing how exercise helps the creative mind...and chocolate ;)

Jessica Nelson said...

Various ways. It's tough though. So glad you've come through it!

Loree Huebner said...

Shelley: Interesting that you can get the block if you get burned out from writing. I never thought about it that way. Thanks for sharing.

Deana: It's funny how the block can leave just as quickly as it came on. It's kind of like the flu...lol! Glad you're over yours too!

Rhonda: I didn't climb out...He lifted me out. I couldn't do it on my own.

Lynda: Yes, exercise and chocolate definitely helps! I'm "running" to the kitchen now to hit the last of the Easter "chocolate" candy ;=D

Jessica: Thanks for the encouraging words. I'm reading your book. I find myself smiling - knowing you wrote it...how awesome!

Shelley, Deana, Rhonda, Lynda, and Jessica, thanks for chiming in.

Cynthia Chapman Willis said...

I'm so glad you came through this and put it behind you. I've only experienced a block once, during a time of such stress and anxiety that I simply couldn't concentrate. It was frustrating because I wanted to escape in to my writing. Happily, there is always reading.

Melissa Tagg said...

Loree, sorry I'm commenting a couple days late. :) I haven't had writer's block too horribly lately when it comes to fiction, but oh, sometimes it kills me when it comes to my blog. :) My best antidotes: prayer, caffeine, talking to people. The best stuff can come simply from talking to people! :)

Stacy Henrie said...

I think it's very tough to write if there are stresses going on, whether it's family or health, etc. Sometimes it helps me to just sit down and write anyway - though I find editing easier at stressful times than drafting. :) Other times a break is the best thing I can do.

Loree Huebner said...

Cynthia: I'm glad it's over. It's a strange thing, and you have no control.

Melissa: You are never late! I will try talking it out next time. I really didn't talk to anyone about what was going on - you're just kind of numb. Thanks for the suggestion.

Stacy: I agree, sometimes a break works. That's what did. I took a step back for a few days.

Cynthia, Melissa, and Stacy, thanks for stopping by and sharing. You guys rock!

J.L. Campbell said...

Happy you got that licked. I haven't experienced writer's block yet, but that could be because I don't write all the time. Maybe the time I spend doing other things help me to have a fresh perspective when I'm ready to write.

Carol Riggs said...

I'm glad you got out of the "stress cave"! Good for you. At the very least, your temporary writer's block made you aware that you were under stress, so that's a good thing to be aware of. Sometimes life is more stressful than others, that's for sure. I can usually tell when my dreams started getting reaaaallly weird. Hasn't affected my ability to write yet though. *knock on wood*

Loree Huebner said...

J. L.: It's awesome that you've never experienced it. Keep that fresh perspective! Loved learning about Port Royal today!

Carol: LOL! I have been having some strange dreams lately! ACK! Stress!

J.L. and Carol, thanks for your comments today! It's always nice when you drop by.

Terri Tiffany said...

Yes! Right now and thank you for telling me stress can do this as I think that's my reason. I hope you are writing again!

Loree Huebner said...

Terri: Stress is a beast! I am writing again and it's been going great! I hope you get over yours soon! Thanks for stopping in!

Julie Musil said...

Loree, I'm so glad you came out of it! Yes, stress is a HUGE roadblock for so many things. I find that when I'm trying the least (with writing), that's when ideas pop up. I just have to remember to step aside and go do something else.

Loree Huebner said...

Julie: It is funny how we get the best ideas when we aren't really trying. That happens to me too. Thanks for stopping in! Great advice!