Many writers I know suffer from that horrifying paralysis known as writer’s block. I can be lazy, uninspired and many other things, but I can always write. I follow the Stephen King School of writer’s block. Put your butt in the chair. The work will follow.
Still, I often prefer to describe my inactivity as writer’s block because it sounds so much more professional (ha!). Then I read words of wisdom from others on the subject. Here you go:
You might not write well every day, but you can always edit a bad page. You can’t edit a blank page.
I have to write hundreds of pages before I get to page one.
Turn off your cell phone. Honestly, if you want to get work done, you’ve got to learn to unplug. No texting, no email, no Facebook, no Instagram. Whatever it is you’re doing, it needs to stop while you write. A lot of the time (and this is fully goofy to admit), I’ll write with earplugs in — even if it’s dead silent at home.
Enjoy writing badly.”
Russell has only written one book … and it was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. In an interview with The Daily Beast, she talks about her daily struggle to overcome distraction and write…
I know many writers who try to hit a set word count every day, but for me, time spent inside a fictional world tends to be a better measure of a productive writing day. I think I’m fairly generative as a writer, I can produce a lot of words, but volume is not the best metric for me. It’s more a question of, did I write for four or five hours of focused time, when I did not leave my desk, didn’t find some distraction to take me out of the world of the story? Was I able to stay put and commit to putting words down on the page, without deciding mid-sentence that it’s more important to check my email, or “research” some question online, or clean out the science fair projects in the back of my freezer?
I’ve decided that the trick is just to keep after it for several hours, regardless of your own vacillating assessment of how the writing is going. Showing up and staying present is a good writing day.
I think it’s bad so much of the time. The periods where writing feels effortless and intuitive are, for me, as I keep lamenting, rare. But I think that’s probably the common ratio of joy to despair for most writers, and I definitely think that if you can make peace with the fact that you will likely have to throw out 90 percent of your first draft, then you can relax and even almost enjoy “writing badly.”
I am a big fan of outlining. I write an outline. Then a slightly more detailed outline. Then another with even more detail. Sentences form, punctuation is added, and eventually it all turns into a book.
I write while walking on a treadmill. I started this practice when I was working on “Drop Dead Healthy,” and read all these studies about the dangers of the sedentary life. Sitting is alarmingly bad for you. One doctor told me that “sitting is the new smoking.” So I bought a treadmill and put my computer on top of it. It took me about 1,200 miles to write my book. I kind of love it — it keeps me awake, for one thing.
A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.
Dan Brown: Brown likes to hang upside down in antigravity boots, saying the inversion therapy helps him relax and “let go.” He also keeps an hourglass on his desk, and every hour he stops writing to do pushups, sit-ups, and stretches.
So. On those days you just can’t get it together, hang upside down like a bat, turn your desk into a treadmill, cook and eat an entire lasagna – whatever it takes to get you’re ass back in the seat, your fingers moving over the keyboard.