Writer's Block

Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,615MI6 Agent
edited June 2017 in Off Topic Chat
don_t-be-a-slave-to-writer_s-block.jpg

Writer's Block - have you ever had it?

Do you believe it exists or is it just a feeble excuse for inability to write?

How do you try to overcome it?

I write non-fiction articles, mainly on James Bond and I have had writer's block for a while now. I have plenty of ideas but it's getting them down on paper that is much more difficult than thinking them up initially.

It's usually applied to writers of fiction, but in reality any kind of writer can get it.

Let's discuss it in this worryingly blank space. :)
"The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).

Comments

  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 17,766MI6 Agent
    Try not starting at the begining. Just write something down regardles of where it will end up.

    Don't worry too much about the quality of the language or even the content. You can fix that later.
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,077Chief of Staff
    Yes, it's real. I've found the best way to overcome it is to not force things, and the ideas will start coming in unbidden after a while. May not work for everyone, of course.
  • The Domino EffectThe Domino Effect Posts: 3,109MI6 Agent
    I write for a living and can confirm that it's very real indeed. I agree with Number24 that it's good to just put down whatever's in your head and make it pretty later and I agree with Barbel that ideally it's best not to try and force it (see what an agreeable chap I am?). However, deadlines often mean that you have to write no matter how difficult that might be at the time. When in the right frame of mind I can bang something out that I am very happy with in a matter of minutes. Other times it will take hours of hard and painful grind to produce even a few paragraphs that I never truly like.

    Absynthe also works! :D
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,065MI6 Agent
    He's got the ideas Barbel. It's putting them down.

    Like meaning to clean your room, but you don't get round to it.
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,615MI6 Agent
    He's got the ideas Barbel. It's putting them down.

    Like meaning to clean your room, but you don't get round to it.

    Yes, that is largely the situation but I think with time I will be able to overcome it. :) -{
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,615MI6 Agent
    edited January 2018
    This video of Roald Dahl's working methods rings very true to me as well. I'm very good at these "delaying tactics" too when I feel in the mood for writing. I can't compare myself to Roald Dahl, of course, but it's nice and reassuring to know that the literary greats faced the same problems as us mere mortals, all the same!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnLqh3tLXW0
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,065MI6 Agent
    This stuff can also come about when a) You're a perfectionist, so you run thru in your mind what it's about, but when it comes to doing 'the big job' well you've already done it haven't you, it can't compete with your ideal draft version.
    Way round this? Remember that often as you write new stuff comes to you, so when you get it down chances are all sorts of new goodies will occur to you in transit, so your draft version in your mind is just that.

    b) Life has got on top of you. Putting stuff off is a way of exerting control, just as a messy room is your way of telling the world you can do as you please, just as anorexia feels to the victim like taking control of your body in a world where generally you just don't feel in control at all, just as morbid obesity comes from someone having their cake and eating it, really 'owning' their food, it's a feeling of control. Of course, you wind up with a messy room and not the means or wherewithal to sort it, stick thin and dying, or carrying around a few extra stone of weight each day year in year out; what started as a desire to assert control only ends up as an outward manifestation of your lack of it.

    c) You have put off the deed it is now in the part of your mind called 'on the backburner' as separate as fact and fiction, past and present. Also, let's face it, if you didn't do it last month, you surely don't need to do it this month and if you didn't get round to it last year, surely the chances are slim you will get around to it this year.
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,615MI6 Agent
    edited August 2018
    Stewart Lee - "On Not Writing":

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrXVaytvJtQ

    I thought that I'd include this video here as it's somewhat related to the topic at hand. It's very interesting to listen to, on making writing sound "not written"! Lee is my favourite stand-up comedian, by the way.
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,077Chief of Staff
    Interesting video, thanks SM.

    Most of my writing is composing music, rather than writing prose (I have two albums available on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, etc, with the third being almost ready) which is comparable if not exactly the same. I do get writer's block regarding lyrics but never have with the music- either a melody comes to mind unbidden or one appears while playing piano or guitar.
    Writing lyrics strikes me as Lee discusses in the above video: saying something in a way that hasn't been done before. I find myself dismissing a line if it resembles one I recall from elsewhere, and this leads to block. Sometimes all it takes is a spark of inspiration from a casual remark, but that can't be relied on.
  • IanFryerIanFryer Posts: 327MI6 Agent
    I enjoy weaving the real world into my writing about films, which can be a rich source of inspiration as movies do not take place in a vacuum. Thus I had some fun writing about the birth of Rock and Roll while writing about the Amicus movies (Milton Subotsky had been a successful songwriter and the Subotsky/Rosenberg partnership started out making Rock and roll movies).

    I'm writing about the 1973 film Carry On Girls right now, which took its inspiration from the real life protests of the 1970 Miss World pageant by Womens Liberation protestors. The research can be absolutely fascinating - presenter Bob Hope's act was so confrontationally sexist that the protest began early to disrupt his act.
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 17,766MI6 Agent
    What did Bob Hope do?
  • IanFryerIanFryer Posts: 327MI6 Agent
    Here's his intro, which I think sounds really misjudged and leering - I'm hearing it with 2018 ears, but even so - ugh!

    https://youtu.be/reCX3_OAkv8

    And here's one of the protestors looking back at the events she was involved with:

    https://youtu.be/RO9rPZ7Y_Vw
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,615MI6 Agent
    Another very useful video from You Tube: Writer's Block Instant Cure

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcKtcXbjwD4

    I think this is the only way around it and I've started writing a bit again as a result. Getting something down on the page is much better than a blank screen; you can always edit it later to better say what you want it to say.
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,697MI6 Agent
    I remember that it was always advised that a writer should
    Get in to the habit of writing something every day. Even if
    It's crap.
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,615MI6 Agent
    I remember that it was always advised that a writer should
    Get in to the habit of writing something every day. Even if
    It's crap.

    Yes, professional writers (i.e. not me!) must write every day. And even then, it can be years before they make a breakthrough! Then, when they do, they're called "an overnight success" after they've been writing every day for 10 years! :))
    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,697MI6 Agent
    I also think of getting in to the habit of taking one hour in each day
    For yourself. For exercise or sport if you want or to do an hour's
    Writing. Even if It's only ideas for further writing projects.
    Getting a deck of cards and write a word on the back ( obviously
    Bond related ) of each. Then with 52 cards, you have a subject to
    Muse over each week.
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • thesecretagentthesecretagent CornwallPosts: 2,151MI6 Agent
    I write for a living and have had it a few times, but thankfully not for long. Hemingway never 'drained the well' and wrote only for a few hours each morning. But he was usually drunk by two, so maybe that's a good place to start.
    I get it when I'm putting the end to a story, usually an action sequence, which needs momentum, but can easily be lost through distractions like family and promotion work. Then tiredness. I find it best to disconnect from social media, tv and pretty much everything else. Re-reading a proportion of the work usually unlocks it as well.
    Amazon #1 Bestselling Author. If you enjoy crime, espionage, action and fast-moving thrillers follow this link:

    http://apbateman.com
  • Silhouette ManSilhouette Man The last refuge of a scoundrelPosts: 7,615MI6 Agent

    Here's a cartoon the former Bond author Raymond Benson shared on Instagram yesterday.

    "The tough man of the world. The Secret Agent. The man who was only a silhouette." - Ian Fleming, Moonraker (1955).
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 1,106MI6 Agent

    Interesting thread. I don't ever have a 'block' I just have days when I can't or won't write. I am easily distracted. It does bother me. Like most writers, if my subject interests me, the act of writing it ceases to be a chore and becomes a joy. That, I believe, is the secret.

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