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Friday, 21 September 2012

5 Ways to Boost Writer’s Block

Say what?

Yes, you read that correctly.

Recently, up until this morning in fact, I’d sunk into a long stretch of writer’s block. It spanned so many days that I believe I crossed the threshold into Writer’s Depression. I have no clue the medical validity of this condition, but it was certainly the WORST case of writer’s block ever experienced, in the history of writing. Which, if you do the math, is like, forever.

I dwelled, mulled, pouted, and ranted. I worried, I stressed, I moaned. I avoided my computer, afraid of that blindingly bright blank white screen.
Ah, alliteration - you have returned my long lost friend.

The internet is full of tips to bash writer’s block, heck I even posted my own twist on how to get beyond the block. But it’s harder to find pointers on what not to do, when toiling through days and days of wordlessness. (Apparently you are moved to create new words, too. Strange, strange affliction.)

When creatively stumped, do not do as I did. Please learn from my experience and do not follow my:

5 Steps to Flame Writer’s Worry:

 (Remember, do not follow any of these tips. No matter how tempting.
I know I’m often wrong. 
But this time, please trust me.
Just don’t do it.
Resist the urge.)
1.  Tell yourself you are a one hit wonder. You’re an impostor. A poser. And when the literary world, whoever those people are, finds out you’re a hack; you’re toast. All copies of your book will spontaneously ignite, erasing all traces of your writing from the face of the earth. Perhaps even the solar system. Don't limit yourself to one measly planet. Go galactically huge, or go home.

 2.  Definitely worry about everything else, while you're at it. Time to bring out the big gun; awfulizing. Look into every corner of your life, don't miss anything. Dig deep.
  •  May I suggest beginning with your job? I think they may be on the brink of firing you. Just sayin'.
  • Your kids? They are certain to flunk that math test/English essay all because you failed to pack them the most nutritious lunch each and every day. Since kindergarten.
*I promise this will get easier with practise. Awfulizing, really snowballs once you get into the swing of things.

3.  Keep your fears bottled up for as long as possible, until you explode over something trivial like your messed up coffee order at Tim Horton’s. This is sure to make you feel like you are truly losing your faculties. (You can substitute a Starbuck’s for Tim Horton’s. Where you freak out is your decision.)
4.  Meander through your favourite bookstore or library, spending long hours staring at all the books. Pay particular attention to the genre you write. Examine those titles. Really consider how many novels are already published. Hundreds? Thousands?

Let your mind shout, over and over again,  

“Does the world really need one more vampire/zombie/coming of age/romantic-comedy, just like mine?”

5.  Avoid Word – or whatever word processing program you prefer. Don’t challenge your negative self-talk. It’s easier to give up and not risk failure. Further strengthening your conviction that you are the worst writer in the history of storytelling. Again, my math tells me that's like, forever.

What do you think of my list?
Drew said it was a bit dark, especially for me. It lacked hope and I had forgotten how much I liked hope - until just recently.
Coincidence? I think not.

So, fuelled by hope, I close with:

2 Highly Recommended Writing Tips: 

1.  Share your fears and concerns with fellow writers. They get you. They are your peeps. Remember, these are the folks that didn't call you crazy when you told them about the awesome conversation you had with the characters from your book, on your drive to work. And yes, you were alone in the car.
2.  Go easy on yourself. If your WIP is sucking the life from you, do some easy writing exercises, or heck, write a blog about your issues, turning your post into some sort of cathartic therapy – wait a second. I think I’m onto something.
3.  And if all else fails - a bubble bath and a glass of chardonnay will do wonders for your spirit. Let your mind drift and daydream. Note: I said ONE glass of chardonnay. We are encouraging hope not a hangover.
And yes I know I said 2 tips, but come on, anyone could benefit from a little R&R. 
Plus, I've never been very good at following an outline.


  1. Honestly Jodi, this is your piece in like, Ever! I loved, loved loved it and might print and post it up here by my computer. Place of honour. And p0ersonally, I love coining new words--I didn't realize it was an affliction, but now I understand the funny looks my family gives me. ;)

  2. Oops forgot the 'best' between 'your' and 'piece.' :}

  3. Christina, this is why we are fellow Anitas. :) So glad you loved it. Funny how the worst of times can make us value our more sane moments.

  4. Here's a comment from your guest blog:
    "Great writing! Love that word “awfulizing.” Outlines…don’t like those either. But your blog post here is wise and funny. *Thank you.* "

  5. You've verbalized some of my own great fears. They work, I tell you. I identify with all. One of my favourites is hanging out in a bookstore and deciding the world doesn't need another book - esp. mine. Then there's the fluke thing - anyone can get one book out there. (Just like anyone can ride a roller coaster once.)

    So glad to see your sense of humour back in great style!

    1. How did I forget the ole' fluke fear? Of course, getting Spaghetti published was only a lucky break...:)