Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Dear Writer's Block, It's Me, Dee

Because as it turns out, we're out of macaroni...

I have a confession:  I'm stuck on my story.  I've made it 3/4 of the way through a crappy first draft, and it's time to write an ending to the damn thing.  Really, really time.  I'm itching to go back to the beginning with some idea of where I'm headed and begin re-writing.  Maybe then my story won't read like a bungled version of Days of our Lives meet the Addams Family.  (Oh wait--that gives me an idea...)

Anyway--back to the present.  I'm good and stuck.  I don't really know why, though I know that this is the point where many authors have doubts and fears and want to turn around.  Most of their advice reads something like this:  keep going.  I'm not an idiot--I know I have to keep going.  That much is glaringly obvious.

But how?  What if I stare at the story, and the feeling of being stuck has overwhelmed the point of me having a clue of what I'm doing?  I need a plan.

I welcome suggestions, but until then, here are a few things I haven't tried yet:

1.  Writing a hundred words a day.  This, my common sense tells me, is a reasonable option.  Either I'll get into it and keep going, or I'll eventually, after a few months, have something done.

2.  Attempt to channel a spirit who will tell me what to write.  This has the added bonus of me not having to take responsibility for any of the words I write down.  Also, it could open up the new-age market.

3.  Writing out an ending on a piece of toilet paper.  I have a theory that I do some of my best writing on toilet paper and restaurant napkins.

4.  Glueing macaroni to cardboard in order to spell out words.  At least that would make me seriously consider what words I used before I wrote--the time, glue, and thought of starving children in Africa would raise the stakes.

5.  Dictating words into a tape recorder as I try to tell the story to my roommate's cat.  Maybe if I had someone to listen to my story, it would help.  Also, that cat is a tough critic.

Whew.  That got a few ideas out of my head.  Off to find a tape recorder...


  1. Writer's block sucks, but it is inevitable. My advice is to try a large amount of experimental drugs and see if you gain some sort of clarity. Other than that, it has been very helpful to me to have a reader, or a co-writer of sorts, who can kind of inject the material with some ideas from a different angle. I know it can be hard to get out of the frame of mind of what WE, the writer, were PLANNING. But that's exactly what the problem is. Obviously what we were planning isn't going to work anymore, and we are just not reconciling that in our brains. It can also be hard to share work, especially first drafts, but opening myself up to that has totally changed my productivity. Sometimes it just takes your friend giving you a few keywords or an idea for the beginning of a chapter to, like you said, get you into it and keep it going.

  2. Thank you so much for the advice! I will find a cache of experimental drugs at once--and perhaps use the walls to write my masterpiece on. I'm sure my friends will help in the endeavor. If they don't stage an intervention first.

    On the other hand, your second suggestion is wise, but also much, much trickier. I think it's hard to know when to step back from the game plan and recognize that the story needs to change. I appreciate the advice to have someone read it--I feel so embarrassed that my first draft has so far to go, I have to push myself to share anything. I'm glad having a writing buddy has helped you. I'm having a hard time finding someone I trust enough to feel that exposed with. How did you come across your reader-friend? What qualities should I look for in a writing partner?