Lynn Tyler Blog

Dealing with Writer’s Block

Finding a topic to write about is always quite difficult for me. No, don’t get me wrong. My head is full of people demanding that I write their story. They are so demanding, in fact, that sometimes they keep my up at night. But I digress.

After many minutes staring at a blank computer screen, with that blinking cursor taunting me, I finally thought I would write a blog post about…Writer’s Block! Fitting, right?

Now, many people ask me how I deal with writer’s block. There is really no simple answer to that question.

First, I am a heavy outliner. Sometimes my outlines are half the length of the book. I find that by outlining so much of the book, I rarely run into true writer’s block. I know what’s going to happen and when.

Outlining has given me a distinct advantage in my writing process. I used to try and write by the seat of my pants. It seems so much more romantic, doesn’t it? But I found I would write myself into a corner with no conceivable way out.  Without a way to believably way to advance the plot, without using the “it was all a dream” plot device, I ended up with multiple half-finished books cluttering up my hard drive.

Now that I outline my books, I can see those plot holes and fix them before I get into the nitty gritty.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally lose focus on whatever manuscript I’m working on at any given time. I get bored easily and sometimes the process of writing a believable story, developing characters and even advancing the story arc becomes overwhelming. My solution was to have multiple projects going on at the same time.

I used to try and only work on one story at a time, figuring that I would get that book done much faster. Recently, however, I’ve discovered that by having multiple works in progress can keep me productive. If one book is giving me problems I can simply switch projects.  Once I return to the original project, I am refreshed and ready to go.

For the odd time that I do truly run into writer’s block, I simply let things…simmer. The answer usually comes to me at the oddest times, like when I’m changing a diaper or cleaning the bathroom.

Naturally, my question today for authors is: how do you deal with writer’s block?

9 comments

  1. Hi Lynn!

    Another Siren author here 🙂

    I have to say I share some of your methods for preventing writer’s block, mainly having multiple WIPs going. I tend to let the voices guide me rather than outline, though. Once I start writing, the story usually tells itself–while I only had a vague plot in mind…BUT–we’re all different, and you have to do what works best for you.

    Switching WIPs works really well when I’m feeling stuck and the characters get quiet. Then I’ll be in the shower, exercising, or driving to the grocery and just the right plot twist will pop into my head. The biggest help??? I write almost every day. It keeps the ideas flowing and the words coming.

    Great post!

    Mellanie Szereto

    ** My newest release (yesterday!) is The Sextet Presents…Playing in the Raine: A Toy Story ~ available at Siren. http://www.bookstrand.com/the-sextet-presents-playing-in-the-raine **

  2. Hi, Lynn!

    Sometimes if I just read through what I’ve already written or read parts of another story I wrote it can help get me in the mood. If I have the right music on and some coffee that can really motivate me too. 🙂
    I agree with making outlines. I usually do, though I have just used mental outlines before as well. The first chapter can be tricky sometimes. The words often flow, but unless the characters were in a previous book, I’m still discovering who they are at that beginning stage, so outlines work good for that. I can see where they will end up, who they will become and figure out why they’re like that (aside from the fact that I made them that way. Lol).
    My newest book, Fleeing Temptation (Temptation, Wyoming 2) wasn’t difficult getting to know the characters since one of them was a side character in book one. Plus I had fun writing Hilary’s character, since her logic is sometimes flawed and humorous.
    Sometimes I can make myself write and get into it if I have writer’s block and other times I just have to take a break for that day and do something else. I find the quality of writing is better when my little heart goes into it.

    Zoey Marcel

  3. *waves hi*
    I used to fly by the seat of my pants, too. Used to let those characters back me into a corner I could never weasel my way out of. Yes, I’ve also got lots of unfinished stories on my hard drive. Enter plotting/outlining. They’re never set in stone. But they are a loose guide so those characters don’t get too out of control.
    As for writers block. Funny what talking a walk, or doing the ironing can achieve! And don’t forget that notebook at the side of your bed, because amazing plot arcs always pop into my head just as I’m slipping off to sleep. Darn it if I can ever remember them, no matter how amazing. So that notebook is crucial.

  4. I take a shower…a long shower because whatever I’m stuck on is normally solved when I’m covered in suds. For some reason, that has always been the case. Not great for the water bill but great for writing. I remember being stuck on some plot issue in Spanish Heat so I jumped in the shower and twenty minutes later, I had the answer. Try it! At the least you will smell very, very nice. Thanks Lynn.

  5. I haven’t been writing long, but so far, my best remedy for writer’s block is to take a short break then reread the last couple of chapters of my current book.

    When that doesn’t work, I’ll start writing ideas for other books, or I will even write scenes that I may opt to use in the book. It really just depends.

  6. Hello, Lynn,

    Funny, I used to work with outlines but I’m doing so less and less these days. I find that when I know exactly what is going to happen in one of my books, I start to get bored and lose the fire. On the other hand, I AM a very linear writer – start at the beginning and write straight to the end – so I’ll usually have a plan for the next chapter, at least, before I start.

    I rarely get writer’s block in the “blank screen” form,but sometimes I get stuck in that infinite loop, writing, revising, deleting, swearing, writing, revising. I find that a spell with Write or Die (http://writeordie.com) sometimes helps in those cases.

    ~ Lisabet

    “Imagination is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”

    Visit Lisabet Sarai’s Fantasy Factory
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