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Writer's Block? Or "Can't be arsed"?

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  #31  
Old 10-06-2011, 04:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Redlorry View Post
Why can't someone say I am too tired to write or I am too busy to write. Or I have no inspiration right now? Honesty over pretention.
Obviously -- you're not getting it. If I'm too tired or busy to write -- THAT IS what I say.

If I sit down day after day at my computer and despite my most sincere desire to write, nothing happens -- I say I have writers block. Sorry if the term isn't to your liking. Really, if you can think of a concise, less pretentious way of putting it -- I'll adopt it right away.

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  #32  
Old 10-06-2011, 04:21 AM
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Okay, then for me if I sat down to write and nothing was forth coming I would look at why.

Normally for me it is because I lack inspiration, I am tired, or my mind is engaged on other matters. In these cases I either give up or allow myself to write a jumble that will never see the light of day.

I don't use the term writer's block to refer to situations I can't write because I have always been able to identify the reason why.

Even if I did use the term, at work 'writers block' is not an option. If I fail to deliver because I can't write and can't provide a reason that my manager uderstandestands, redundancy or sacking become very real options for my employment.

Last edited by Redlorry; 10-06-2011 at 04:24 AM..
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  #33  
Old 10-06-2011, 04:31 AM
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Actually since talking to writers I have gained new insight into this. I know one reasonably successful writer, but not so successful that she can stop.

She's had three months and just can't write -- of course her publishers aren't happy, but she has nothing to give them. Like Joe says it could be a case of until it happens to you, you can't get it.

My only frame of reference is my ME fog - fog is a good term because it describes how I feel when it happening.

What Joe describes, no matter what the cause is, it sounds like a block, because something is 'blocking' the normal flow of information that would normally come easily. Nothing else has changed but for whatever reason it isn't happening.

Last edited by AnyaKimlun; 10-06-2011 at 05:03 AM..
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  #34  
Old 10-06-2011, 04:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Redlorry View Post
Okay, then for me if I sat down to write and nothing was forth coming I would look at why.

Normally for me it is because I lack inspiration, I am tired, or my mind is engaged on other matters. In these cases I either give up or allow myself to write a jumble that will never see the light of day.

I don't use the term writer's block to refer to situations I can't write because I have always been able to identify the reason why.
I’m a naturally inquisitive person and a problem solver. So of course, the first thing I try to do is figure out why. The thing is, I can’t really pinpoint a reason why it happens. Some of it has to do with the distraction of other responsibilities – but it’s deeper than that. If there was a discernible cause and course action I could take to fix it – then I’d do it. I’m not the kind of person who will easily throw up his hands and walk away from something.


Originally Posted by Redlorry View Post
Even if I did use the term, at work 'writers block' is not an option. If I fail to deliver because I can't write and can't provide a reason that my manager uderstandestands, redundancy or sacking become very real options for my employment.
I’m a creative director and graphic designer. My whole job is based on coming up with ideas – not just visuals – bigger concepts that involve headlines and images or broader concepts involving brand identity etc. So I get the whole paycheck thing. I’ve also seen people in my business freeze up and lose it -- and they are sacked. That includes writers – and I’m talking about writing that involves a lot of creativity. And it’s sad. People schlepping around portfolios full of work they did years ago – getting crappier and crappier assignments.

So far, the idea that I have to create or I don’t get a paycheck has worked for me – but the day may come when it doesn’t. I’ve seen people blow accounts because on a single presentation, they couldn’t come up with the goods. I’m not so deluded or arrogant to think it couldn’t happen to me – even if it was a one-time or temporary thing. And I’m betting the same thing can happen to professional authors – I’d love to hear a solid reason why you think it couldn't.
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  #35  
Old 10-06-2011, 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
She's had three months and just can't write -- of course her publishers aren't happy, but she has nothing to give them. Like Joe says it could be a case of until it happens to you, you can't get it.
Why don't you just tell your friend she needs ask herself WHY? I'm sure the answer will pop into her head -- and problem solved! Or maybe she should just tell herself "writer's block doesn't exist." The awesome thing is, there's no problem on earth that can't be addressed by a simplistic, one-size-fits-all platitude.

Last edited by JoeMatt; 10-06-2011 at 05:09 AM..
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  #36  
Old 10-06-2011, 05:19 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeMatt View Post
Why don't you just tell your friend she needs ask herself WHY? I'm sure the answer will pop into her head -- and problem solved! Or maybe she should just tell herself "writer's block doesn't exist." The awesome thing is, there's no problem on earth that can't be addressed by a simplistic, one-size-fits-all platitude.
Because when you have had an illness people describe as 'imaginery' most of your life you know sometimes there aren't nice neat answerrs ? And because for some reason people think you have chosen to be like that -- I mean I know you just don't really want to write, just like instead of going and doing a Phd which would allow me to do what I had wanted to do when I was six I decided to spend the next few years lying in bed drooling at the ceiling.

She isn't a friend as such, just someone I've met online. Her situation is she has been writing long enough to know all the 'fixes' there is nothing I can suggest to change it. It could be caused by tablets she has been on, illness, exhaustion, but none of that changes the fact she just can't get a single word out.

Last edited by AnyaKimlun; 10-06-2011 at 05:22 AM..
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  #37  
Old 10-06-2011, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeMatt View Post
The awesome thing is, there's no problem on earth that can't be addressed by a simplistic, one-size-fits-all platitude.
That's just it. 'Writer's Block' is a one size fits all answer for what in most cases can be explained. And I bet it's bandied about more by non-professionals that it is professionals. Because it's too nebulous and in the real world, logical or non-creative types just don't get it. It's whimiscal.

The closest I can get to 'Writer's Block' is lacking inspiration.

This is how I see it. My opinion. I am entitled to mine as you are yours.
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  #38  
Old 10-06-2011, 07:08 AM
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You sit down, you poise your fingers above the keys of your computer, and you write. You don't need paint, guitars, or any paraphernalia required for other creative endeavours. The only thing you need is a good computer with a version of Microsoft Word. Hell, Notepad will suffice.

Now you're sitting at the keyboard, trying to think of what to write, and something shiny catches your attention. Oh, Internet Explorer! You wonder if any of your friends on Facebook have commented on your latest post. While you're there, you spend thirty minutes befriending people you don't know.

Back to writing! you chide yourself. Okay, chapter one. What did I say was going in here again? A noise diverts your attention. One of your friends has just logged on to MSN Messenger. You spend ninety minutes talking to him/her. The night is over, no writing gets done, and the best panacea for your problems is that you encountered 'writer's block'.

What's the problem? You lack discipline. Most people who say they have writer's block usually preface it with an announcement that they just can't find the words, or their muse has gone to sleep, or some other excuse. What's the underlying problem? How can you write 1,000 words yesterday and suddenly be unable to write anything today? Because you aren't doing it enough. You shouldn't just strike when the iron's hot. You should be writing something -- if only a post on a writers' site -- every day. That gets your mind disciplined and averse to accepting excuses.

Bottom line: If you want to be a writer, you need to write. Not just when you feel like it. Not just when your muse is fully operational. EVERY DAY.

If you can't do that, there's always painting by numbers.
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  #39  
Old 10-06-2011, 07:23 AM
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That whole scenario is made up bullshit. Certainly nothing like my experience. Again – you presume to put yourself into the minds and lives of other people. Your experience and way of doing things applies to everyone.

You’re either refusing or you’re just not bright enough to take in and process anything that has been said. Really -- ignorance and arrogance is a bad combination.
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  #40  
Old 10-06-2011, 07:35 AM
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There is such a thing as 'speaker's block.'

I've known speakers who are talented and have spoken to a high level in all sorts of competition get up one day at local level and dry up.

Only did it myself once at a competition - and the judges actually came upto me and said my start was great and had I continued I would have won. It was probably due to having a baby just before but it didn't change the simple fact there was nothing there, and I couldn't think of the next word. I knew exactly what I wanted to say and had the whole topic planned but in the end I just sat down.

JoeMatt I could be wrong but I should imagine writer's block can be similar ? Sitting there, but those words are plain not in the mind to type onto the page >? or do they get stuck between the mind and the fingers ?

I've never really had writer's block except for when my ME is bad and I can't even speak properly lol
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  #41  
Old 10-06-2011, 07:40 AM
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No, my experience and way of doing things doesn't apply to everyone, Joe. On the other hand, it has helped me write a number of novels, become published, and achieve first-class honours in an English degree course.

Which is a perfect example of needs must when the devil drives. I had a 20,000-word dissertation to write, and three to four months to do it. If I had allowed myself to become afflicted with writer's block, I would have flunked the course. Which brings me back to my earlier point. When writing becomes a necessity, it trumps all ailments, real or otherwise.
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  #42  
Old 10-06-2011, 07:58 AM
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Maybe the reason it was no issue to you is because you have never truly had writer's block.

It is like me wondering why you think writing a dissertation or a novel is such a big deal, because i find both very easy to do.
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  #43  
Old 10-06-2011, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Daedalus View Post
No, my experience and way of doing things doesn't apply to everyone, Joe.
So you’re now doing a complete reversal? Because that’s exactly what you’ve been saying -- and dismissing what anyone else has to say about it. I think I’ve made a reasonable case for the existence of something most call writers block -- and I’ve backed it up with examples from my own experience, both as a writer and creative professional -- and it doesn’t have anything to do with screwing around on facebook.

And please -- you don’t have to lecture me on hard work and self-discipline. I started and ran my own profitable business -- and only left it (taking my biggest client with me) to take a much better position at a bigger agency with more high-profile clients. The only thing I’ve ever had to sell is my own creativity and hard work – and I’ve supported a family of four doing it and on a single income. Maybe one of the reasons I’m “not doing it enough” – do you think?

Writing is not a necessity for me – but it is something I take seriously and it is something I love. If I can’t get the words out it’s very frustrating – and it’s a very real problem. Someone offering “You sit down, you poise your fingers above the keys of your computer, and you write” as a solution is obviously making huge assumptions -- and is unwilling or not capable of seeing things from someone else’s point of view. It’s just not that simple.

Last edited by JoeMatt; 10-06-2011 at 08:35 AM..
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  #44  
Old 10-06-2011, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by AnyaKimlun View Post
Maybe the reason it was no issue to you is because you have never truly had writer's block.

It is like me wondering why you think writing a dissertation or a novel is such a big deal, because i find both very easy to do.
I've already said I've never had writer's block. I also never said writing novels was hard, but from some of the posts made on this and other sites, it seems people have problems with them.
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  #45  
Old 10-06-2011, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeMatt View Post
So you’re now doing a complete reversal? Because that’s exactly what you’ve been saying -- and dismissing what anyone else has to say about it. I think I’ve made a reasonable case for the existence of something most call writers block -- and I’ve backed it up with examples from my own experience, both as a writer and creative professional -- and it doesn’t have anything to do with screwing around on facebook.

And please -- you don’t have to lecture me on hard work and self-discipline. I started and ran my own profitable business -- and only left (taking my biggest client with me) to take a much better position at a bigger agency with more high-profile clients. The only thing I’ve ever had to sell is my own creativity and hard work – and I’ve supported a family of four doing it and on a single income. Maybe one of the reasons I’m “not doing it enough” – do you think?

Writing is not a necessity for me – but it is something I take seriously and it is something I love. If I can’t get the words out it’s very frustrating – and it’s a very real problem. Someone offering “You sit down, you poise your fingers above the keys of your computer, and you write” as a solution is obviously making huge assumptions -- and is unwilling or not capable of seeing things from someone else’s point of view. It’s just not that simple.
Homer Simpson ~ "If something is hard, it's just not worth doing".

That seems to be the mentality here. Someone asks how to get over writer's block. Tell me, then, how are the platitudes of 'go for a walk', 'read a book', and 'watch TV' any more helpful than telling the person to man-up and tackle their demons head on? Is walking around the house going to put words on the page? Going for a jog? Watching TV for six hours? Would that time not be better invested doing something productive like, I don't know, writing? Even if it's crap; who cares? You're teaching your mind to not give up when something becomes difficult.

Instead, people are saying to only write when they feel like it. Okay, that's your prerogative. Just don't complain about writer's block when the thread title has it spot on. Call it 'can't-be-arsed syndrome' instead.

Vis-a-vis the comment about not knowing whether professional authors are or are not afflicted with writer's block: They may encounter testing times where writing becomes extremely difficult, but I've yet to see a novelist of the last ten or twenty years who hasn't released a novel every second year. The obvious exception is Thomas Harris, but his is not a case of writer's block, rather perfectionism.
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  #46  
Old 10-06-2011, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Daedalus View Post
Instead, people are saying to only write when they feel like it.

Except I didn’t say that. I write plenty when I don’t feel like it – and very often something good comes out of it. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about not being able to write even when I do “feel like it” – when I really want to – and I still come up empty. And yes – I’ve tried to just pound out any old thing – sometimes for hours – and I’ve found it to be consistently counterproductive. You’re just guessing here and making assumptions based on your own experience -- and you’re getting it all wrong.

And obviously, this doesn’t have anything to do with just giving up or “not manning up” – ha ha – or I wouldn’t be still be writing.

Anyway – I can see you’re not letting any of this sink in -- so I’ll just go back the ignorance and arrogance thing. It certainly applies to you -- at least when it comes to this topic.

Later

Last edited by JoeMatt; 10-06-2011 at 09:21 AM..
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  #47  
Old 10-06-2011, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Daedalus View Post
I said I refuse to believe it exists. I didn't, however, say you should refuse to believe it exists. If you all want to tell yourself you can't write because some unseen force has 'blocked' your writing skills, knock yourselves out.

Hey, just the other day I encountered a case of painter's block. I stared at an empty canvas for days. The day before that, it was musician's block. I forgot how to play the damn guitar.

Try making a living from writing. See how long you believe in 'writer's block' then.
Thats the thing. People like to use labels for things because they're easy. Like Writer's Block. It's just a label used by people who have encountered difficulties getting their work done.

I have stared at a canvas for a while, trying to figure out how to fill it. And it was a paying job too. And I've also painted, drawn and written for money, though the last only token so I don't count it, so I do know what it's like to have to churn out creative work to a deadline and struggle to come up with ideas and good ways of portraying them.

I've also used avoidance tactics on my personal projects when I'm struggling to get a scene down or create the correct light effect in a painting. And at the moment I've got so many ongoing projects that I havent had a new story idea for four months maybe longer. I'd call all those things elements of what you like to call Writer's Block, something you don't believe in, like it's a pile of fairy dust that only exists for those that can see it.

Well I can see it. I just call it what it is - a struggle that gets dealt with when it gets dealt with and moved on from. It's not a big deal to me, and not something I need to deny, because I don't need to hold up my writing or painting prowess or progress as some kind of badge of honour. I'm more than happy to admit when I'm struggling.

People will either work or they wont.

And by the way, Sam. You sound like you think you're telling me something I don't know. But I kenned all about writing and its various foibles and enjoyables a long time ago. Maybe you should try talking down to someone who doesn't know any better yet.

Last edited by CandraH; 10-06-2011 at 10:41 AM.. Reason: typo
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  #48  
Old 10-06-2011, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Redlorry View Post
Why can't someone say I am too tired to write or I am too busy to write. Or I have no inspiration right now? Honesty over pretention.
Because it's easier to use a known label. But that also makes it easier for people to dismiss it as pretentious or non-existent because they "don't believe in it".

It's just a label. Either use it or don't but maybe if more people stopped making such a big deal about it on both sides of the fence, we all wouldnt have to sit around in here procrastinating our arses off.

I'm supposed to be editing, Miss Lorry!
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  #49  
Old 10-06-2011, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by CandraH View Post
I just call it what it is - a struggle that gets dealt with when it gets dealt with and moved on from.
You mean you were able to "man-up and tackle your demons head on?" Ha ha.
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  #50  
Old 10-06-2011, 10:31 AM
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Originally Posted by CandraH View Post
It's just a label. Either use it or don't but maybe if more people stopped making such a big deal about it on both sides of the fence, we all wouldnt have to sit around in here procrastinating our arses off.

I'm supposed to be editing, Miss Lorry!
I freely admit to procrastination. I don't need writer's block for that, ha ha.

Editing... oh yes... editing *sighs* me too.
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  #51  
Old 10-06-2011, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeMatt View Post
You mean you were able to "man-up and tackle your demons head on?" Ha ha.
Heh. I got balls of steel mister!

You know whats interesting? I just read the rest of this thread and Sam really is arrogant and ignorant so I'm with you on that. It seems like he's happy to dismiss one writing concept - writer's block - but at the same time buy into another one - you have to write a million words of crap before you get to the good stuff.

Funny how some people live in such a narrowminded selective little world.

By the way, I didn't say or mean that being unable to get past a block in creativity isnt valid. I hear you when you talk about having other issues get in the way and not being able to get your mind to do what you need it to - if only we were all able to sit down all day and just write, write, write, there'd be no problem. Just that in my case my struggles come from not having the time or the right headspace to do what I want. But I can go do other things and come back later because I have lots of stuff on the go at once, and thats what I meant by saying it gets dealt with when it gets dealt with. I think I'd probably struggle more if I was only working on one project.

Originally Posted by Redlorry View Post
Editing... oh yes... editing *sighs* me too.
I keep putting it off. I've been meaning to start the last month or so but other computer time jobs kept getting in the way. Now that my time is clear, I'm afraid to open the file. It's a big job - my first novel - so pretty daunting because I know it needs a lot of work. Still, I managed a short neswpaper extract earlier so I don't feel too bad. Hopefully I'll get more done tomorrow...

Last edited by CandraH; 10-06-2011 at 10:40 AM.. Reason: Thread moving fast.
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  #52  
Old 10-06-2011, 10:48 AM
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Originally Posted by CandraH View Post
Heh. I got balls of steel mister!

You know whats interesting? I just read the rest of this thread and Sam really is arrogant and ignorant so I'm with you on that. It seems like he's happy to dismiss one writing concept - writer's block - but at the same time buy into another one - you have to write a million words of crap before you get to the good stuff.

Funny how some people live in such a narrowminded selective little world.

By the way, I didn't say or mean that being unable to get past a block in creativity isnt valid. I hear you when you talk about having other issues get in the way and not being able to get your mind to do what you need it to - if only we were all able to sit down all day and just write, write, write, there'd be no problem. Just that in my case my struggles come from not having the time or the right headspace to do what I want. But I can go do other things and come back later because I have lots of stuff on the go at once, and thats what I meant by saying it gets dealt with when it gets dealt with. I think I'd probably struggle more if I was only working on one project.
I get what you're saying. And I do get over it. As you know -- I also go through periods where I’m fairly prolific. That’s what’s so dumb about this idea that this has something to do with laziness or a character flaw. People just aren’t that way – they don’t shift back and forth from having self-discipline to having none.

And I’ve shown self-discipline in other areas of my life with great results – that’s what it takes to go out on your own start a business and support a family. The idea that I would selectively get lazy just when it comes to writing -- something I love to do -- is absurd.

Last edited by JoeMatt; 10-06-2011 at 10:52 AM..
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  #53  
Old 10-06-2011, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeMatt View Post
I get what you're saying. And I do get over it. As you know -- I also go through periods where Iím fairly prolific. Thatís whatís so dumb about this idea that this has something to do with laziness or a character flaw. People just arenít that way Ė they donít shift back and forth from having self-discipline to having none.

And Iíve shown self-discipline in other areas of my life with great results Ė thatís what it takes to go out on your own start a business and support a family. The idea that I would selectively get lazy just when it comes to writing -- something I love to do -- is absurd.
Absolutely. The real world is so much more complicated than a simple "oh, you just cant be arsed".

But I think for some people things really are that simple. Like they cant ken anything outside their own experience so for them it really does just come down to laziness versus discipline. But what a blinkered way of looking at the world, forgetting about all the other factors like those you just mentioned - being capable of self-discipline in other areas and also capable of producing plenty of writing at other times. But I guess some people just cant see that kind of complexity in life. A shame.

And yeah, I've seen you at your prolific best. It's scary.
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Old 10-06-2011, 02:59 PM
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Does anyone think that some aspects of writer's block relate to self criticism? Obviously that's where the advice to write crap comes from, and sometimes it will work. (I hear you, JoeMatt, and recognise that that advice won't always help.)

Since I'm a newer writer, I've been highly uncritical of my ideas and have written anything I come up with (and quite often I do think its crap), but I've learned a lot so far. As I'm progressing, I'm finding I'm a bit pickier about what I want to write about, and some of my writing has become familiar to me - I'm discovering I want to write about things that are new and fresh. So I'm wondering if you've done a lot of writing, do you get blocked sometimes because you want to find something fresh and new to explore, which gets harder to come up with if you've been prolific before?

(Currently I'm not blocked - just frustrated by a lack of contiguous time, and overwhelmed by the mountain of things to learn.)

(I have trained and worked as an architect. Blocked creativity was never part of it. For us, our designs were always a response to a problem. The problem generated the creativity. But the quality of the creativity was infinitely variable.)
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  #55  
Old 10-07-2011, 01:36 AM
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"Writer's block" implies you must be a writer to get it. I wonder if that's the appeal? At the mo I'm just a girl who writes, but If I could get me some writers block, I'd be a writer with a block. Yes, I am all over it. Just after the next chapter I write
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Old 10-07-2011, 02:57 AM
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Originally Posted by fihr View Post
Does anyone think that some aspects of writer's block relate to self criticism?
Yeah, I think so. For some, writer's block is procrastination -- and most often that's not about laziness. Rather, it's more about perfectionism -- or being overly self-critical -- or a fear of failure or some combination of the two.
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Old 10-07-2011, 03:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Loz View Post
"Writer's block" implies you must be a writer to get it. I wonder if that's the appeal? At the mo I'm just a girl who writes, but If I could get me some writers block, I'd be a writer with a block. Yes, I am all over it. Just after the next chapter I write
Heh. Well, that's not the case for me. As Candra said, it's just a name -- and writer's block is as good as any. I don't even call myself a writer -- that's up to others to decide.
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Old 10-07-2011, 03:10 AM
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Originally Posted by JoeMatt View Post
Heh. Well, that's not the case for me. As Candra said, it's just a name -- and writer's block is as good as any. I don't even call myself a writer -- that's up to others to decide.
For all I don't really get into your stuff you are a good writer.
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Old 10-07-2011, 03:17 AM
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C'mon Joe. Such modesty can only hold you back. (...I am only a measly little worm, not fit to raise my head above the earth in the presence of greater beings... reminiscences from an old evangelical church background.) You are a writer, and you've been doing it longer than me, and I have no problem calling myself a writer. Since I write so much. I don't compare myself to the authors (published people) I admire, because if I did, I'd not write a single word, and in fact did not, for that very reason, until this year. Even if its crap, I'm still happier writing, and why not call yourself a writer, if that's what you like to do?
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Old 10-07-2011, 03:45 AM
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You can call it modesty if you want -- it just doesn't come out. I tell people that I write stories or that I'm working on a novel. At some point, when it will feels right -- I'll say it. It doesn't have any effect on my writing at all, so it's not holding me back.

Last edited by JoeMatt; 10-07-2011 at 03:47 AM..
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