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Thread: When you get blocked do you push through it or move on?

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin LaurenSamantha's Avatar
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    When you get blocked do you push through it or move on?

    Hi,

    So I get blocked often and it tends to be because in the specific scene I am writing, I am struggling to work out what comes next, or how to write what comes next in the way I want to.

    At the moment I am currently struggling with the second half of a chapter because I have to fit a time transition in a short space and its taking a while to figure it out. However I do know exactly what is going to be happening in the next chapter from start to finish and it is already in my head bursting to get out.

    My question to you is, would you normally push through the writers block and attempt to get the second half of this chapter out or would you move straight onto the next chapter and come back to the previous one after?

    I know everyone's writing experience is different and there are no right answers, just want to get some opinions!

    Thanks, I appreciate it in advance.

  2. #2
    please distract me mccardey's Avatar
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    I sometimes think just stick a pin in it and come back to it later. Often I've found that the thing I'm trying to push is just the wrong shape, and there's a bit of tweaking that happens organically when you move ahead and then come back to it.

  3. #3
    Seashell Seller Layla Nahar's Avatar
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    I've learned that for me at least, forcing myself to write does more harm than good.
    すべての武器を楽器に
    Of all instruments of war, make instruments of music

  4. #4
    I got it covered Undercover's Avatar
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    I usually do a short summary, or some notes at the end of the previous chapter if I'm bursting to get the next chapter out first. And then go back. I wouldn't call this writer's block. You still want to write and know what you want to write about, so that's always a good thing! So what if you skip every now and then. That's what revisions are for.

  5. #5
    Mostly harmless SuperModerator dpaterso's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaurenSamantha View Post
    My question to you is, would you normally push through the writers block and attempt to get the second half of this chapter out or would you move straight onto the next chapter and come back to the previous one after?
    Gotta say, my definition of being blocked is different -- it means not being able to push through it, or move past it, or skip to the next part -- I'm blocked not just temporarily stuck at a specific section. It's not a hurdle, it's a brick wall. The road ahead is closed. I'm not offering an argument, just a different point of view.

    That said, well done for getting there, by whatever means, go you!

    Thoughts from other posters also noted and appreciated.

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  6. #6
    practical experience, FTW Magnus's Avatar
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    Sometimes, the best stuff comes out when I press on despite having "nothing." That feeling, that there's nothing there; it's not real. There's always something there, and odds are that you'll stumble onto it if you keep writing. I've regained my flow several times by sticking with it. But if I keep pushing and nothing happens, I'll let it go. I'll skip to some other project, do some writing exercises, read, or take a walk.

    Sometimes you just need to step off for a bit, but I think you shouldn't do it right away when you feel blocked. Don't bang your head against a wall, but don't give up at the first sign of a struggle, either. Writing is hard, and you're going to get stuck. I believe learning to work through it is absolutely central to having any kind of long-term success.
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  7. #7
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin LaurenSamantha's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone, this has really helped!

  8. #8
    Seashell Seller Layla Nahar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaterso View Post
    Gotta say, my definition of being blocked is different -- it means not being able to push through it, or move past it, or skip to the next part -- I'm blocked not just temporarily stuck at a specific section. It's not a hurdle, it's a brick wall. The road ahead is closed. I'm not offering an argument, just a different point of view.
    This is how I see it, too. I wish we had a better way of distinguishing between the two.
    すべての武器を楽器に
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  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW Max Vaehling's Avatar
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    I get stuck (blocked, too) for different reasons and it's vital to figure out which one it is. If it's really just a difficult beat but I have a good idea what it should be (the extreme form of which would be when I feel I've already written that scene in my head so writing it again feels redundant), pushing through can help. But often, my inability to get a beat down is actually a sign that there's something wrong with it and what I really need to do is go back and find a different path towards the next bit I'm sure of. Pushing through, in these cases, can lead to further story problems down the road, including actual writer's block. More often than not, it's safer to just skip the beat, witie the next sequence, then go back and see if I should give it another try, find a different way of getting the information across or - actually, more often than you'd think - skip the beat altogether and just incorpoarate the most important information somewhere else.

    The key to the latter - and, in a way, to the other two as well - is that after having wirtten the next bits you ideally have a better grasp of which information, out of the bunch you meant to get across in the difficult scene, you actually really need and which were just in the way.

  10. #10
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Whenever I experience what I consider writer's block, I try to change my scenery to see if that helps. If that doesn't, I stop writing for awhile. I know that's not a very useful technique, but I find it hard to move pass what I'm working on.

    -Dani

  11. #11
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    Prunes.

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  12. #12
    Seashell Seller Layla Nahar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
    Prunes.
    Ha! I was thinking of something exactly along this line...
    すべての武器を楽器に
    Of all instruments of war, make instruments of music

  13. #13
    Yes, I keep pushing, knowing it's just the first draft and can be altered or not used at all by the time the novel's finished.
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  14. #14
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I'm an artist as my day job and there's the same problem on that side of the creative fence. My philosophy HAS to be work through it, or else I can't pay my bills. I use the same techniques for pushing through with my writing.

    My mantra is "Done is better than perfect."

    Some questions I ask myself:


    Do I have a clear vision on what's happening in the next few scenes?
    If not, I switch to pen and paper and start sketching and writing what happens. Sometimes I won't put on my headphones at work and just think about my book all day.


    Am I excited about what I'm writing?
    If not, switch to a point I'm excited to write OR write short stories that will 1) give me a better read on my characters or 2) help me figure out the plot of the book.


    Do I just need motivation to start putting down words?

    Open up writeordie and set it to kamikaze mode. Force 3, 15-min sessions out as fast as humanly possible.


    Is this block health related?
    Perhaps I'm sick or dealing with anxiety/depression. Maybe I haven't been eating right or am dehydrated. Often the first signs of depression are losing interest in the things you previously loved. It might be a good time to focus on self-care or call your doctor.

  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW MerriTudor's Avatar
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    cpatten, thanks for sharing your process! I don't often even consider the last question, but I realize now that some times when I've been seriously stymied, I'm also physically exhausted or under the weather.

    I really like your mantra. One of my biggest blocks is wanting - no, NEEDING - to make it perfect. You're right: done is better!

  16. #16
    practical experience, FTW Asterism's Avatar
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    I'll usually edit the prior chapter to get back in the rhythm and see if the momentum keeps me going. If it doesn't, and I know the framework of the chapter but just can't put it into words right then, I will skip ahead and let my mind marinate on the right words.

  17. #17
    It's a toque, BF Jaymz Connelly's Avatar
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    I used to be the sort that had to write linearly - from start to finish, no skipping about. However, this latest story I'm working on, I just didn't have it for the first two scenes, so I cinched up my big girl britches and jumped over those scenes. And then I jumped over another couple of scenes, but I kept going forward, reassuring myself that I'd go back and do those scenes later. 25K words into the story, later has arrived. I went back and wrote the first two scenes, and they were better than they would have been if I'd tried to write them when I first started this story.

    And the good thing about keeping on going with the story, is that I gained a better understanding of my main character, so I knew exactly how he would behave when I went back to the bits I jumped over.

    So I say, if you haven't got an earthly how to write the second part of the current chapter, but you know exactly how to write the next chapter - skip the part giving you fits, and circle back to it later.

  18. #18
    Hardened drinker divine-intestine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LaurenSamantha View Post
    Hi, At the moment I am currently struggling with the second half of a chapter because I have to fit a time transition in a short space and its taking a while to figure it out. However I do know exactly what is going to be happening in the next chapter from start to finish and it is already in my head bursting to get out.
    When I get stuck at something I take a break from it. This might be going out for a walk or just doing something completely different to recharge my brain. Sometimes it's also good to write a different scene that will take place later (or not at all) in the book just to get the creative juices flowing.
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  19. #19
    I write CathleenT's Avatar
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    I've done it both ways. I'll try anything to move past. It's kind of a whatever works situation.



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  20. #20
    figuring it all out
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    The best thing to do is push through IMO otherwise you might literally never come back to that project due to getting locked in a sort of negative thought process about it..

    Also, something weird tends to happen when I'm in the middle of writing and I know what I'm writing is total crap, and I have a mini tantrum and give up.. aaaand then the same thing always happens, the moment I give up and stop trying and stop caring so hard, the words just come.

  21. #21
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    I generally press on, but not always with the book/story I'm in. I usually have a couple stories going, so I can jump in and out of those. If it's a short story, I can finish that relatively quickly and get a boost of confidence / energy from completing it and take that back to the problem story. It also gives me time to clear my head, if I'm stuck on something. I got stuck in a scene today, realizing I'm not sure how the plot should progress. I tinkered with it a bit, and then finally went on to a different scene.

  22. #22
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    Right now I'm on a rewrite and I just pushed through a sequence. I don't know if it would have been better to move on, because it certainly stalled me for awhile, and maybe if I waited for inspiration to strike it would have gone down easier. But I find the problem with skipping ahead is, even if you know the broad strokes of what's going to happen, it's impossible to get continuity in every detail. So skipping ahead is good for a first draft, but eventually you have to go through in order without backing up for any major changes.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Asterism View Post
    I'll usually edit the prior chapter to get back in the rhythm and see if the momentum keeps me going. If it doesn't, and I know the framework of the chapter but just can't put it into words right then, I will skip ahead and let my mind marinate on the right words.
    Or that might suggest you should go back further and go in a different direction. If the scene consistently isn't giving you momentum as a writer, it might not give the reader momentum either.

  24. #24
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    In my opinion, it's what works best for you. Some people need to push through for their own reasons, while others find it best to move on. Sometimes, I'll set the piece aside for awhile and know I'll come back to it. I do other writing in the meantime, and if I'm truly devoted to the piece, I always return. Inspirational reading and meditation also help. But, that's me.

  25. #25
    I aim to misbehave Myrealana's Avatar
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    It really depends on the type of block.

    Sometimes, I'm blocked because the current path is wrong and I have no idea how to fix it.
    Sometimes, I'm blocked because I'm on the cusp of something and I just can't quite get there.
    Sometimes, I'm blocked because life is being all "I'm your real life and you don't get to think about your fantasy world right now. NYAAAAAA!"

    For the first one, I put my WIP aside and work on something else. Eventually, the solution will come to me, at least it always has so far.
    For the second one, I push through, or skip ahead in the same work, knowing that probably 90% of what I write is going to end up on the cutting room floor, but that elusive nugget of truth might be in there somewhere.
    For the last one, I free write about whatever life has thrown at me.

    The key for me is to write something, anything. Good, bad, ugly. If I stop writing and play video games or watch TV or read or bake a cake, I lose my momentum, and it can be very difficult to get started again.
    -- Myrea
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