Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Fricassee

It's not often I sit staring at a blank screen when it's time to blog. While writing, yes. Constantly. But blogging never takes long.

Well, almost never. Because I've been staring for ever so long this morning, and this is all I've come up with.

Which leads to an excellent topic (I hope). What do you do when the Blank Screen looms? When thoughts have congealed, immobile, and inspiration seems to have died?

And what do you do when this sad state of affairs happens when you're writing to a deadline?

I used to fear just that -- writerly constipation with a looming deadline. I'm all over my self-imposed deadlines and, as yet, haven't missed a single one. But they are, in the end, SELF-imposed. The world will not cease to revolve if I don't meet them.

So today, share your methods for breaking through the blankness. Or a fuzzy-warm story of how you successfully overcame a particular bit of stuckage. Or a list of appropriate foods to consume while one is summarily stuck.

As always, I'm all ears!


  1. I am a believer of powering through the blankness. I usually try to write something unrelated to the project I should be working on - a blog post, a silly little story for my own edification, or even a long chatty e-mail. I find that once I get the gears meshing in my mind it's easier for the words to flow.

  2. I go on a LONG, LONG bike ride. Nothing like four hours in the saddle of a road bike, pumping up the hills, and screaming DOWN the hills to get the juices flowing.

    Another thing I do is CRANK the music. Yeah, find some of my favorites (P!nk, Adie Camp, FireFlight) and blast them.

    A little chocolate sometimes works as well!

    So, write on, my friend.
    Happy Friday. Thanks for this post.

  3. I step away to reboot my head. I might take a shower or go for a walk with the dogs. I try to do something that lets me clear my head then think along the lines of what I need to write.

  4. It depends. Last night, I was exhausted. There was no way I was getting words, since my brain couldn't string together any thought other than "Damn, I'm tired." In that case, I went to bed. It wasn't a block so much as a dead brain.

    Having said that, I know I need to write more the next few days to make up for it. So, I'll have to plow through whatever blocks jump up. And that's just what I do. I write. I give myself permission to write crap. Crap can be cleaned up. A blank page may be clean, but it's also still blank. So I write exposition and dialogue that will end up cut. I write backstory that doesn't need to be in. No matter what, I write something, because once I start, I can usually end up with at least a little bit that is worth keeping.

    And every once in a while, the stuff I think is crap when I'm writing it isn't half bad.

  5. "A blank page may be clean, but it's also still blank."

    That is exactly what I needed to hear today. I will be following this with interest because I suddenly have time to write and have spent this week dwelling on how uncreative and uninspired I am.

    Staring at the clean blank page.

  6. I do a bit of stream of consciousness writing. Usually some tidbit comes through that I can work with from there.

  7. I go to my blog and post, but usually, I never have a blank head as it's always full of well, yea, that.

    At the moment, I'm annoying my critique group by constantly posting on our private forum. No really, we're all talking writing and thinking about kidnapping an agent or two.

    Are there any agents out there that want to kidnap me?

  8. Because iron sharpens iron, I read.

  9. Not to be sychophanty or anything, but when I'm suffering from a bad case of the blanks, I go to your blog and read a few old posts. If that doesn't work, I do the same to David Farland's 'Daily Kick'. By then some writerly thoughts have banished the blankness and my fingers can at least start typing again. Thanks for the inspiration

  10. I have two techniques for fixing that.

    1) Do laundry. Don't know why, but that seems to get the creative juices flowing. When my hands stop folding because I'm staring off into space watching a scene unfold, that means put down the laundry and write out the scene.

    If by some miracle dirty laundry isn't available, proceed to Plan B:

    2) Start writing, "I don't know what to write. I need a scene where _______ happens, but I'm stuck. If so-and-so does such-and-such, then this'll happen, but maybe that will work if I make him blah, blah, blah, blah." Sometimes it takes a whole page of drivel and sometimes only half a page, but sooner or later I seem to hit on a really great idea. And then, of course, I can delete all that junk and write the actual story.

  11. I know there are many writers with this problem, but not me. Sometimes I stop and mull over a character, but it's rarely for long. My problem is length in between new projects.

    As far as blogging, right now I have a list of five or six topics I'm waiting to write.

  12. Basically, I just listen to Nike - just do it. Yeah, I write crap in the beginning, but fifteen to twenty minutes in, and I'm usually back on track.

    Don't stress too much over it. As long as it's something you love to do, things usually work out. When it becomes a 'job,' and an - I have to get this done or else situation - that's when the problems seem to arise. For me, anyway.

  13. I give myself a hook. I have to write a word, or a sentence. I doesn't have to be the right next word or sentence - but I just have to write SOMETHING.

    Two things help me identify that "something". If I've already started the piece, and I need to finish it, I'll list the missing parts and just pick one. If I'm staring at a completely blank screen, I'll just pick something - description, or brainstorm with a random word from the dictionary and how it relates to what I'm trying to write.

    Anything to force the words to flow. Then once I've written something, anything, then I write the next something.

    (And now I've got to knuckled down and start doing that....)

  14. For me, if I have a really bad day, I try to have some kind of insurance in place.

    If I'm having an amazing writing day, I go all out and write as many words as I can. My goal per day is 500 words, but every once in a while, I will go over 3000 in a day. That allows me not to freak out as much if I have a day when I can only put 250 or less words down. And that lessened stress and pressure helps me stay sane and keep writing in the long run.

  15. I run. Miles with no music so I can get into my head. Sometimes I draw. Sometimes I look through the dictionary to find a word that inspires me.

  16. I walk, bake or do something completely unconnected. Of course I can only dream of anything other than self-imposed deadlines at this point, so it really hasn't come into play yet!

  17. I refer to my writing style as "writing what I see." I play my novel out in my mind, seeing it the way I'd see a movie. It helps me from having to stare at the blank screen and think "what happens next?" I actually just blogged about it, if anyone's interested.

  18. Some good suggestions here. I find it can help to go back and read through the previous scenes. Sometimes I'm blocked because I've gone in the wrong direction, and I just need to cut a few scenes and go in a slightly different direction.

  19. I'm trying to figure this out. The thing is, when I power through, I never like the result as much as when it comes to me. But I also don't like just taking time away. I think the answer somehow lies in taking the time to imagine the scene, away from the computer, and then coming back to it. But I haven't quite got it yet.

  20. I have often found a day (but not more) spent munching on cupcakes, watching Hugh Grant movies, and wearing pajamas is very effective.