Monday, November 25, 2013

The Truth About Writer's Block

Hi all. Today I'd like to talk about writer's block. It's no secret that Bryan and I are writers, as you might have otherwise surmised from our haggard, half-starved appearances in all of our photos. Or those wordy, papery things we churn out once every 6 months or so. Uh, "books" I think they're called.


Sure, we don't make millions of dollars, but we put a lot of effort into doing something we love. Hell, one in four of our fan letters aren't even death threats. So, we do enjoy it. But sometimes writing can be hard, even impossible. And barring incarceration, the reason for that 99% of the time is, you guessed it, writer's block. But writer's block probably isn't what you think it is, so we thought we'd explain.


First off, writer's block isn't synonymous with "literary constipation." The words are there, sure, but they're not just stuck in some mysterious rectal traffic jam. It's a mental game. Like forcing yourself to poop on vacation, in a strange and foreign toilet. So, here are the top reasons why we believe it happens. And yes, they will probably all be toilet metaphors.



1) Writer, Interrupted - Simply put, while you may have the best intentions of planting your ass at a keyboard, life has a tendency to intervene at the most inopportune times.


2) Fear - Fear is the biggest root of writerly procrastination. At least for those of us with a realistic perspective of our abilities. We know that once a project is done, it's eventually going to get read by actual people (who may or may not be our mothers), and the fear of that far-off judgment will keep us looking for anything to do but write. Mow the lawn? Sure. Change the oil on the car? You bet. Finish that troublesome manuscript in a timely fashion? Fuck no, I'm gonna go watch the mailbox for five hours to see if my Amazon order comes in today instead.


You could frame the stuff we churn out after 12 beers
3) Uh... well, we would have written a number three, but we currently are suffering from writer's block. So... there's that.

You may notice that "Time" didn't make the list. This despite the fact that it seems to be the most common complaint we ever hear from fellow scribblers. Because that's a bullshit excuse, and falls readily under number 2. If you really want to get it done, it will get done. My advice? Drink lots of coffee. Not only will it keep you awake at the typewriter after a long day at your soul-sucking job, but it's also a natural laxative. So, bottom's up.

Any other ways to beat writer's block, aside from lethally caffeinating yourself or drinking yourself comatose?

Cheers and stay productive, friends,

-B&B

Beer: White Rascal
Music: Passenger


81 comments:

  1. The ten that follow, not so much - priceless!
    I guess the only other way to beat it is to disillusion ourselves into believing what we are creating is pure genius.

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    1. I owe most - if not all - of my success as a writer to pure disillusionment.

      Delete
  2. Sometimes I just get unmotivated. "UNGHHH I HAVE A GOOD BLOG POST IDEA BUT I DONT WANNA DRAW ALL THOSE PICTURES UNGHHHH." And then I look at cats on the internet for a bunch of hours.

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  3. I've always heard that you just need to keep writing, stream-of-consciousness style until things start to pull together in your head. It worked for James Joyce. Hell, his stream-of-consciousness turned out what many consider the greatest novel.
    Me, I find a mild depressant works well. Or the avoidance of something else I don't want to do that leads to good writing.

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    1. I always wrote best at work, because there's something about writing when I'm not supposed to that fuels the most creativity. Now that I have writing time galore? Sorry, my brain says, not gonna happen.

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  4. Being able to deal with "distraction", or at least not be a dick about it, is what separates the good writers from the great ones.
    As far as coffee goes, I advice against it whether your mention of it was serious or not. Caffeine will get you dependent on it in no time at all. Stay away from those energy drinks for the very same reason (if not already for their acidly sugary properties.)

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    1. I stay away from energy drinks if only because they taste like battery acid and could probably strip the paint off a car. I don't want to see what they do to a person's insides.

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  5. The only time I seriously suffer from writer's block is on my blog. Thinking of something that is funny that hasn't been written about in my last 200 posts gets to be pretty difficult. I have no problem writing dramatic pieces, though. I'm just a really slow writer with sleep and other useless crap getting in the way.

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    1. I don't know what it is about blog topics that are so damn hard. We can churn out an idea for an entire novel in 10 minutes, but ask us for a blog topic and it can take hours.

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  6. So funny that the two lads head out to the bar to get their writer's block to end and just end up getting really drunk! This is a handy enough guide though in all seriousness, pleased to see the rude waiter back, he's my favourite character by far in the history of characters, I don't think I'm even joking!

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    1. Drunken writing is some of the best. It's also some of the worst, but whatever.

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  7. That is very true, if one wants to get it done they will find a way. Watch less tv, sleep less, etc. There is time, people just would rather whine and do the other things. For me, no writer's block ever at my sea. Always something to rant about, almost done posts for Feb now lol as for the foreign toilet, I'll avoid using that as much as possible

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    1. If you ever get bored of writing 6 months' worth of posts, feel free to write a few months' worth of posts for us, will you? This last minute shit we pull is not fun.

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  8. Time is not a valid excuse? I beg to differ. Try telling that to someone who actually works full time for a living....and has kids to deal with!

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    1. Hey now, you act as if we don't work. And time isn't an excuse. Even if it's just 1 hour a week, I'm sure there's 1 hour where you COULD be writing but you choose to spend it doing something else. Watching TV. Playing a video game. Whatever. I'd work 70-80 hours a week during election season and still write. If there's a will, there's a way.

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    2. But, but I'm a slow writer and an hour isn't long enough! Especially when the wife and kids hog the computer all damn evening!

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    3. Who needs a computer? You've got a pencil and paper, right?

      (Hey, no matter what your excuse I can give you a solution)

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    4. What Bryan said. I'm an extremely slow writer too but you have to put in whatever time you have. Also the more you do it, the quicker the words will come.

      Delete
  9. We are such tortured souls when you really think about it.

    I'm pretty sure the best stuff I have ever written was when I was off my face on opiates 24/7. I must admit that is the largest challenge as far as not doing drugs anymore.

    Write drunk. Edit sober. Or something.

    xo!

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    1. So what you're saying is opiates might improve my writing? I'm on it!

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    2. OBVIOUSLY, haven't you read Burroughs, or Hunter S. Thompson?? BRILLIANT.

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  10. When I feel bad about my writer's block, I usually just drink whiskey until I don't feel bad anymore. Then I go to sleep.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Sleep always makes me feel better. So does whiskey. Why have I never thought to combine the two?

      Delete
  11. My biggest writer's block issue is quality.

    I have intermittent delusions of grandeur. Once I remind myself that I'm not Shakespeare or James Joyce or Stephanie Meyer, then I'm fine. I mean, how bad could it be? I'm not going to accidentally write "Fifty Shades of Grey"...

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    1. But you could accidentally write a Snookie or a James Franco, and that's something we should all be afraid of.

      Delete
  12. I find that fear is the biggest cause of my writer's block. It's something I'm a little surprised I still haven't gotten over despite how much of my writing is now out there for the world to see. Even though I know people will almost always respond to something well, I still run and hide from comments on my work. I even have a few unpublished things because I put so much emotion into them and I don't want to see something I cared about so much be torn apart.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Any time you feel bad just remember that your collection of short stories has a 4.5 star review rating average on Amazon, while Twilight has 4 (and is lucky to have it), Fifty Shades of Grey has 3.5, and Snookie's book has 3.

      Delete
  13. Yup, sometimes you just get unmotivated in one way or another, been there getting over it now. I agree it's not time, there's time for everything.

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  14. I'm currently suffering from a bad case of writer interruptus. That's my worst kind of block, when life interferes. Typically, I just let it and tell myself I'm creating new material. Rationalization, rationalization, rationalization!

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    1. Absolutely. If it weren't for writer interruptus, our wacky blog post stories wouldn't happen.

      Delete
  15. I find that once I've gotten out of the habit of writing, it's so much harder to start; it becomes a chore. And if you've ever seen the state of my kitchen, you know I don't do good with chores!

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    1. I'm the same way. I have to write a little bit every day consistently, otherwise, once I fall out of it... so hard to get back into it. Writing is essentially like alcohol tolerance.

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  16. I find that the hardest part of writing anything (for me, anyways) is that little thing that some people like to call "The Beginning." STARTING to write something--anything--really sucks. Once I get into the groove, I do fine. It just takes me forever to get started. I have to seriously force myself to sit down and start typing. The opening paragraphs to my work always suck at first. And then after I've slogged my way through a rough draft, I can go back and obsessively edit and edit and edit the crap out of the whole thing until I feel like it's finally done. It's a messy process, but it works.

    Good luck with that hangover...er...I mean...writer's block. :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. P.S. I am currently procrastinating on writing a 15 page paper for my online class. You should totally feel special that reading this blog is what I do when I'm avoiding a project that I REALLY don't want to start doing. :)

      Delete
    2. That's what's great about having the two of us. I can just be like, "Uh, how about you start this one?" Maybe one day he'll catch on that he starts all of them.

      Also, I feel special for being part of your procrastination, but we accept no blame whatsoever if you fail your class. Or so our legal team* tells us.

      *me, in a top hat

      Delete
    3. You in a top hat? Seems legit...

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  17. I didn't realize that #1 fell under "writer's block;" I guess I have that after all, then, and the only thing I can think of to combat that...
    ...
    red rum
    red rum
    red rum

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    1. It totally counts even when it's someone else's fault. If I can blame writer's block on me not having enough focus to sit down and I write, I can sure blame my wife for asking me every five minutes, "Are you done yet? I'm bored. Let's go do something."

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  18. Whoa...you mean those characters of mine are imaginary? That explains a lot. I sympathize with people not being able to come up with something to write about. I find it's not that I can't think of things but more to the point that they would be of interest to anyone other than me. I agree with Gia as well..sometimes it's the time it takes to draw the cartoons that is a problem.

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    1. I dream of a day that we've literally covered every topic in the known universe, so that when it comes to comics all we have to do is pick one that's already been drawn (that's relevant), change the text, and slap it up on the blog. Sigh.

      Delete
    2. I totally love that as an option. I do pull previous "characters" out of the folder and place them into new backgrounds. I have a folder with quite of few of my characters in various outfits but then I still have to draw or use a background to tie it to whatever I am posting any given day.

      Delete
  19. Most of my block comes when I think of an idea and then realize that I hate it with the intensity of snorting Pop Rocks.
    Or I will think of a story and then anaylize the shit out of ponding why character A did that but character B didn't.
    These are all carefully crafted distrations ultimately as a result of Reason 2, Fear, of course.

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    1. Like that Seinfeld episode from once upon a time ago, there's nothing I hate more than waking up in the middle of the night, scrawling down a "genius" idea for a new novel or blog post, and then seeing it in the morning (and being quite excited about it) only to find that it's idiotic and not even funny.

      Delete
  20. I think of a word, any word. Toenails. Hmm, what are they used for? Nothing. We only have body parts because they evolved. Right? So are toenails going away? I hope soon. I'm tired of cutting them.

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    1. They're really good for scratching your ears. Or maybe I've been hanging out with my dogs too much.

      Delete
  21. Yeah, it does come down to fear. But you two are creative geniuses. (I'm mid-way through Graveyard and can safely say this. You do it all.) Some of the rest of us do experience rectal traffic jams.<-great phrase. Made me laugh. Coffee, chocolate, and chocolate coffee. Plus when I first wake up groggy, I write some of my best stuff.

    Cheers,
    xoRobyn

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Chocolate beer sucks, but chocolate coffee is my jam. I could drink that until my heart stops.

      And according to Kanye, we're not creative geniuses. We're mothafuckin' jeenyuses.

      Delete
  22. I've heard that one cure for clearing your mind and getting rid of writer's block is a coma. The trick is to make sure you come out of the coma at some point.

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    1. You don't even have to come out of it. I'm blinking this message in an elaborate dream sequence as we speak.

      Delete
  23. I agree, time is not an excuse. I have decided to stop telling people I'm sorry that I didn't post, because yes, I'm super busy and stressed, but I've found time before, I could find it again, instead of lying on the couch reading and surfing the internet to watch cute animal stuff.

    And I've had the beginning of an idea for a novel in my head for about a year now. You think in that one year I couldn't find time to at least start the first paragraph?

    But I like this fear reason. I can work with that one!

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    1. If you want that novel bad enough, you'll write it. If not, that's okay. Not everyone can just sit down and force themselves to write a novel. I'm still amazed that I have the attention span to finish writing a book, as I don't have much attention span for much of anything el... hey, look, a hilarious cat video!

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  24. I read something that said you should drink beer to get the ideas and then drink coffee to focus to write the ideas. I don't drink either. That could explain a lot since apparantly you drink both (but mainly beer).

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    1. That's pretty much it to a T, and don't tell anyone but (*shhh) we probably drink more coffee than beer. I mean, if I drank 3 bottles of beer every single day I'd probably call that alcoholism. But, granted, "A Coffee for the Shower" doesn't have the same ring. Also, that probably wouldn't work very well, from a functional standpoint.

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  25. So glad to learn the truth about 'writers block'. And here all along I thought it was some 'rectal traffic jam'. BTW - what an incredible line. I hope I can remember that. Ha!

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    1. Feel free to steal it for your own use should you ever decide to lower the level of class on your own blog.

      Delete
  26. As much as I hate to admit it, I believe fear is the one stopping me. I hate to admit it because I know you won't even get better if you don't do it anyway. I have a folder full of text documents with entire plots and twists and barely completed stories that I never end up writing about because I want to write about other things so that when I finally do get around to those ideas, they'll come out perfectly.

    But then I never want to write about the mediocre stuff so...

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    1. You could just write them as they are, for yourself, knowing that you can always edit them and get them in perfect shape when you ARE ready to share them with the rest of the world.

      Delete
  27. I'm glad I don't' get much much of a writers block. Couldn't say the same when I was in school

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  28. Fatigue is the biggest one stopping me from doing anything. Morning workouts are supposed to energize you for the rest of the day, not make you take a long nap when you get home.

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    1. I know the feeling. They (whoever the fuck 'they' are) say you shouldn't work out before bed, but I always do, and I sleep like a damn baby.

      Delete
  29. Some of the best things I've ever written have been after 12 drinks. No-one else can understand my illegible scribbles mind you, but I assure you it's gold x

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  30. I suffer from fear...people will actually see what I come up with and some of them have to grade it...oh dear god! And then there is distraction...I am currently watching old Doctor Who episodes...they are in black and white..everything plays on one stage...everything is better than actually creating things!

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  31. You sure do a good job when it comes to writting. I can get the worst blocks when writting a 3-5pages essay essay and found that opening a beer or two will help me with them. The issue is to stop drinking aftet those two.

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    1. Yes, after those two all productivity (and coherency) comes to a grinding halt.

      Delete
  32. I just got back from a 2 week vacation in Asia where there were many strange toilets. I'd rather have writers block.

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    1. That's true, no amount of literary constipation will ever leave you having to squat over a murky hole in the floor.

      Delete
  33. I suffer from it horribly on my blog. I am going to use a book as a prompt. You'll see it on my blog very soon. It's fibro fog from fibromyalgia. We need medical marijuana here in FL. I think it would solve my writers block. If not at least I'll be happy while staring at a blank screen!

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    1. Why do you think all of the writers in Colorado are so productive?

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  34. Astute observations, my friends. The life of a writer is always filled with something. It just doesn't always make it to the page.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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  35. writers block. **shudder**
    somedays i just cant do it and others see me waking in the middle of the night with inspiration. Luckily it is usually short term but when it happens and why is a mystery to me.
    who knows ? x

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  36. Worst is when you are ready and nothing comes

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  37. I'll take writers block over people making a racket when you are in a groove

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    1. Facebook post: "I wrote 6,000 words today! How cool am I? Give me a ton of feedback and your likes!"

      Kill that guy. We both know him. He needs to STFU.

      Delete
  38. In a creative writing class in high school, the teacher gave us only 60 seconds to write down everything that popped into our heads after a bunch of us were complaining of writer's block. That solved it. We all wanted to keep scribbling when the time was up.

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  39. Keep wearing that book, market it, and I'm sure all that dough will be flooding your way. Just stopping by.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Ugh the bitch that is writer's block. I always have words, I can always get something down, it's when I HATE what I'm producing that I want to throw my computer. For me it's like wanting a fine mist over my harden and power washer word vomit comes out instead. Like an old man suffering from prostrate issues, it's a matter of flow.

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  41. Writer's block is real! To the untrained observer it may look like I'm procrastinating by looking at funny pictures online, but I'm actually trying to overcome the strangest of phenomena that affects only those who call themselves "writers".

    I don't know what's worse, writer's block or a cock block.

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  42. Sacrificing young virgins to Cthulhu is how I alleviate my writers block. Of course it takes up most of time so I don't often have time to actually write, but at least I don't have writer's block.

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  43. I can only write in the morning between the hours of 4 and 7:30. After that I get hungry, then I get sleepy and after the nap then I get bored. Mind you this is only on weekends because during the week I have to get up at 4:30 to go to work and by the time I get home........forget about it! Beer Me!

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  44. I don't know how to get over writer's block but I do know that Starbucks always helps me!

    ReplyDelete

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