PDA

View Full Version : Writer's Block (Severe Case)



DwayneA
11-14-2008, 05:05 AM
I have a severe case of writers block. I can't think of anything. In fact, I can't think of anything at all! I've read books, but I'm still stumped as ever as how to write one.

Where do the authors of books I've read come up with this stuff? How do they come up with great scenes and find the best way to write them? How do they create characters, conflict, plot, everything? How come what's so easy for many is so hard for me?

I feel like I can't do anything write(get it?)...er I mean right. But then again, I've hardly ever been able to do anything right. Nothing I do is ever good enough to win me praise of those around me.

It's not fair. Everyone around me at home is successful and happy. All my former classmates are successful and found their path in life. But me? I'm miserable, unfulfilled, and still as lost as ever. Is this how far a former honor student has fallen? I'm twenty-six years old, and yet I'm still living at home with my parents delivering newspapers every morning for a living. Many times I think to myself, "Life sucks and I really blew it!"

In times like this, I wish I was never diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (which is something that makes people think differently). That's what turned my life in a new direction. Now dad and my younger brother always saying things that make me feel worthless and useless. Many times, I've considered suicide. Even today, I still think about it. My life is going nowhere and neither is my creative writing no matter how much I read.

Which is such a pity because I have some really great ideas for stories. Yet I have no idea how to write them. That's how severe my case of writer's block is.

scarletpeaches
11-14-2008, 05:15 AM
All of the following is written under the condition that I'm not one who believes writer's block even exists.

That said, on with my reply.


I have a severe case of writers block. I can't think of anything. In fact, I can't think of anything at all! I've read books, but I'm still stumped as ever as how to write one.

You managed to write this post, though.


Where do the authors of books I've read come up with this stuff?

Same place you do. Life.


How do they come up with great scenes and find the best way to write them?

They don't. They come up with crappy scenes and then rewrite.


How come what's so easy for many is so hard for me?

First of all, who said it was easy?

Secondly, they manage it because they get the first draft down on paper, no matter how shitty it may be. As Stephen King said, you can't edit what you haven't written.


Nothing I do is ever good enough to win me praise of those around me.

Well. Though such a tone speaks to me of problems quite separate from writing, why should the praise of others be what motivates you to write? Hell, if praise was what kept some people going, Dan Brown would have given up years ago. Oh wait, he has! Yay!

Now, where was I?


It's not fair.

That's life, my friend.


Everyone around me at home is successful and happy. All my former classmates are successful and found their path in life.

O RLY?


I'm twenty-six years old...

Could be worse. You could be thirty-two.


...and yet I'm still living at home with my parents...

Oh man, you got me there.


...Now dad and my younger brother always saying things that make me feel worthless and useless. Many times, I've considered suicide. Even today, I still think about it. My life is going nowhere and neither is my creative writing no matter how much I read.

It honestly sounds to me like writing is not the problem here. Outside matters are clearly getting you down so much that writing just doesn't seem important. Seriously. Concentrate on getting the other stuff dealt with first and the writing will flow.

I mean, in my case, writing always makes other shit better because I figure, "Even if that's all I have, it's enough." But if you find you can't write when the other aspects of your life are weighing down on you, ignore the writing and work on them first.

Then your head will - hopefully - be clear enough for you to see a way of getting the ideas from your head onto the page.


Which is such a pity because I have some really great ideas for stories.

So write them.


Yet I have no idea how to write them.

Nor do I until I write them.


That's how severe my case of writer's block is.

Hmm.

Puma
11-14-2008, 05:47 AM
Hi Dwayne - Have you ever told a story to a friend, maybe about something funny you did or something that happened? Writing a story is very much like telling a story to a friend - except the friend is your word processor and you write the story instead of tell it.

You say you have ideas for good stories - that's usually the hardest part - having a good idea. So why don't you try telling your friendly word processor one of your good ideas? There's always a beginning to get the story going, then the main part of the story itself, and finally the ending. Start with a little story - maybe something that happened when you delivered papers this morning. Then try another story but make it a little longer. If you can get one little story down on paper, that's a major accomplishment - enough to get past your idea of writer's block. Then, when you go on, break the big story you want to tell down into little pieces so it doesn't seem like such a formidable task. Everything we do starts with one small beginning step - but you have to take that first step - it's worth it. Puma

jvc
11-14-2008, 06:10 AM
Everything we do starts with one small beginning step - but you have to take that first step - it's worth it. Puma

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

kuwisdelu
11-14-2008, 06:26 AM
Dwayne, I also have Asperger's. (Incidentally, one of my middle names is also Dwayne.) First of all, don't let your father or brother get you down. They don't know anything. You say your diagnosis was what turned you on a new direction. May I ask why? What did it change?

I've been there before. Almost every time I manage to finish something, I' feel as if I'll never be able to write again. Or if I do write again, it'll be crap. Lots of times, I'll look at my old stuff, and wonder "how did I write that? I can't write like that now..."

Don't give up. How long have you been trying to write? Remember, everyone's allowed to suck. It takes time and practice to get good and really figure out what works and what doesn't. It's been said it takes a million words before you start writing anything good.

If you've got great ideas, that's more than I've got most of the time.

cherubsmummy
11-14-2008, 06:26 AM
Write it all down. All your thoughts, feelings, fears and dreams. Your Asperger's feels like a burden, but your perception of the world, your different way of thinking is something that makes you unique. Readers like to see things from a different angle.

Journal. Give parts of yourself to your characters. Don't compare your writing to that of other authors, but to your own work.

Emma

October
11-14-2008, 09:01 AM
If I have writer's block (it exists, I swear!), I think up the goofiest ideas I can and run with them. For example, one time I wrote about a dill pickle spear that got in a sword fight with a butterfly knife and won. The point is to get yourself thinking in different ways.

Also, stop worrying about it so much! When you're stressed, nervous, anxious, or all three, your creative side can't function. It's scary not being able to think write, I know. You just have to be patient and keep working. It'll go away. Also, your family's stressing you and that doesn't help.

I find I get writer's block whenever I feel the need to impress or dazzle. Sometimes it's because I'm having a perfectionist moment. But I've got OCD, that's not too uncommmon with me.

Here's the trip: you've got ideas, you just can't write them. That's not so much of a writer's block. At least you have ideas. Try smushing them together. Put a time machine in your historical romance, or have a Mongolian desert appear in your rainforest setting. Asperger's makes you think differently, so I bet you could come up with rad quirky stories. Just keep trying. I'll poke you if you want.

HarrisLiteraryscamsu
11-14-2008, 09:05 AM
Dwayne.
Judging by the quality of your writing, Iíve half a mind youíre pulling our legs.
If thatís not the case, let me just say that trying to write is like trying to sleep; the very effort brings on frustration.
Iíve written four novels, tons of stories, and poetry so morbid youíd have to wonder why I didnít simply end it all. In every case the process was the same: rather than proceed linearly, Iíd write whatever scene or snippet turned me on at the time, knowing from long experience that the bridges would perforce construct on their own. So I think the key is to enjoy the real-time creative process and not worry about the big picture. Your life, and your art, are a single event, not an interminable series of speed bumps. Donít watch the road.

michelle25
11-14-2008, 06:08 PM
I don't have too much to add to what the others said, but I wanted to comment on the 'fallen honors student' thing. I know what that's like. After school, I moved to L.A. and fell in with the wrong crowd. As a result, I'm back with my parents now and I'm 27 and it sucks. But I'm doing what I can to get out of this. I'm getting vocational counseling to help me figure out something to support myself (because let's face it, writing won't right now!) I'm sure you'll think of something. Good luck - I know it helps to be in good company, so that's why I felt compelled to respond.

NeuroFizz
11-14-2008, 06:45 PM
(From experience) Sometimes the feeling of being overwhelmed by writing is due to looking at the horizon instead of looking at what is in the immediate foreground. Pick a specific scene that will be part of your story. Don't look beyond that scene. Act it out in your mind, then get it on paper. Don't worry if it is perfect, or even "right" at this point. Once that scene is done, do the same with the next scene. And the next. Even if these scenes never appear in your story, or are so heavily edited they don't much resemble the original version, you're writing.

I agree with Scarlet in part about writer's block. I have two comments on it, one partly sarcastic and one partly humorous. Take them exactly as intended.

1) Writer's block is just an excuse. One must look inward and find out what is being excused.

2) If writing becomes a pain in the a$$, make sure you can locate your pencil.

Red-Green
11-14-2008, 07:07 PM
1) Writer's block is just an excuse. One must look inward and find out what is being excused.


Quoted for truth. If you want to write, but find you can't, you need to look at why you're keeping yourself from writing. Because whether you're aware of it or not, you are making a choice not to write. 9 times out 10 it's fear of failure.

I have ten years' experience teaching college writing courses and every semester, I see a few students fail because they're afraid to try. Their logic works like this: If I try and fail, I am a stupid loser, but if I fail because I didn't try, well, it's just because I didn't try, not because I'm stupid. Most of them don't even know that's why they won't try.

I'm not saying this applies to you, because I don't know you, but you need to look at why you're choosing not to write.

KikiteNeko
11-14-2008, 07:35 PM
I don't believe it's easy for anyone, no matter how talented they may be....

Polenth
11-14-2008, 07:39 PM
It sounds like you're hoping writing will solve the problems in your life. But by hoping that, you're putting too much pressure on your writing.

The solution might be outside of writing. Is there anything else you can do to improve your life? Something like charity work could be good. It'd give you something to be proud of, and you'll be making a difference in the world. I think once you realise you're not worthless, the rest will come.

scarletpeaches
11-14-2008, 07:40 PM
I don't believe it's easy for anyone, no matter how talented they may be....

Maybe not easy exactly, but fun? Hell yeah!

tehuti88
11-14-2008, 08:49 PM
I feel like I can't do anything write(get it?)...er I mean right. But then again, I've hardly ever been able to do anything right. Nothing I do is ever good enough to win me praise of those around me.

It's not fair. Everyone around me at home is successful and happy. All my former classmates are successful and found their path in life. But me? I'm miserable, unfulfilled, and still as lost as ever. Is this how far a former honor student has fallen? I'm twenty-six years old, and yet I'm still living at home with my parents delivering newspapers every morning for a living. Many times I think to myself, "Life sucks and I really blew it!"

In times like this, I wish I was never diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (which is something that makes people think differently). That's what turned my life in a new direction. Now dad and my younger brother always saying things that make me feel worthless and useless. Many times, I've considered suicide. Even today, I still think about it. My life is going nowhere and neither is my creative writing no matter how much I read.

This is kind of scary, because, aside from certain personal details (I haven't got Asperger's), it's a lot like my situation. I was great in school, but now I have terrible social anxiety...am 32 and live with my parents, haven't ever had a job or relationship or even friends, really. Haven't done anything useful with my life, no matter how hard I've tried. I don't have much difficulty writing, the main difference between us, but writing is seen as something that's really unimportant, where I come from, if it's not making money. I hate bumping into old classmates because there's always the question, "So what've you been up to lately?" Er...am I to say, "Living at home stuck in the house afraid to go outside lest the neighbors see me! And writing a lot. You?" Needless to say, there's always an awkward silence, then they move on, never to speak with me again.

Plus nobody is even remotely interested in what I write, anyway, so the one thing I think I'm good at doesn't matter much.

So in some ways, we're in the same emotional boat...except that I'm writing and you're not.

I don't believe in writer's block. I believe in things that make us not want to write, or unable to write, on some level, but there isn't some sort of magical block that forces us not to. Like has been mentioned already, if you're blocked, there's a cause, and you have to find what it is. Some people are blocked because they feel they'll never write anything good enough, so why bother? They WANT to write, but darned if the words will come. They just sit down and freeze. (I'm kind of the opposite--if I sit down and tell myself I have permission to write total crap, I freeze! I have to write GOOD stuff. Hence why I don't bother with NaNoWriMo, I'd be too focused on writing well to bother writing a lot.)

I've been getting "blocked" a lot lately for many personal reasons, among them an overwhelming feeling of futility--sure I can write, but why bother?--nobody's going to care about any of it. (As somebody who wants to connect to others via my writing, this is a huge issue.) I also get blocked when I'm uncertain about plot points and feel I might mess the plot up.

In your case I strongly suspect you're so worried about not having anything important enough to say, or about not writing it well enough the first time, that you're frozen. I think that might be the cause of your block. But I can't tell you how to lift it, because it's difficult, and sometimes it never goes away. Sometimes all you can do is force yourself through it.

It's something you'd have to lift on your own, but at least know you're not the only one.

KikiteNeko
11-14-2008, 10:41 PM
Maybe not easy exactly, but fun? Hell yeah!


I wouldn't say I always have fun writing, either. It wouldn't be very diciplined writing if I did.

scarletpeaches
11-14-2008, 10:42 PM
Discipline and fun aren't always mutually exclusive...

kuwisdelu
11-15-2008, 12:03 AM
I just want to add I believe writer's block isn't always all in one's head. And even if it is, "just writing" isn't always the answer.

Lots of times, I find when I *force* myself to write, the results just aren't that stellar, and I end up trashing it. It's always better if I wait until I'm actually able.

That's not to say when I *am* able to write, it always comes easily. It doesn't. It's still hard. I'm just saying there are definitely times I know I just can't work, and times when I know I could, but it just takes a little more effort.

I find trying to write during the former gets me nowhere. Except sometimes drunk.

scarletpeaches
11-15-2008, 12:48 AM
...Lots of times, I find when I *force* myself to write, the results just aren't that stellar...

Welcome to the club. As the man said, 'the first draft of anything is shit' and I reckon what believers in writer's block call writer's block is actually the normal process of self-doubt.

Hell, even I write crap at times. I know, you read my posts, look at my photo and wonder how that's possible. But I do.

The difference is, I don't stress over it. That's what rewrites are for. But you won't have anything to edit unless you get the first draft down.

There are just differing degrees of shittitude to 'em, that's all. Embrace your inner shit. Let your shit flow free.

Um.

Or something.

kuwisdelu
11-15-2008, 01:09 AM
:Shrug:

It's just how I go about working. Some things are salvageable. Some things aren't. If I know I'm going to write the latter, I know no amount of editing is going to save it. Instead, I'll wait and write the former. I don't allow myself the shit that can't be polished. It works for me.

KikiteNeko
11-15-2008, 01:30 AM
:Shrug:

It's just how I go about working. Some things are salvageable. Some things aren't. If I know I'm going to write the latter, I know no amount of editing is going to save it. Instead, I'll wait and write the former. I don't allow myself the shit that can't be polished. It works for me.

I'm with you here... I can't move forward until I'm at least fairly happy with what I have. Last week I spent two days deciding exactly how a paragraph would go. And when I finally had it as I wanted, it felt like a huge accomplishment.

CaroGirl
11-15-2008, 09:54 PM
Why do people always assume other people are happier, more successful and more fulfilled than they are? Plenty of people who appear that way are absolutely miserable, they're just better at hiding it. And they're being dishonest with themselves and those around them. At least you're honest in your dissatisfaction with your life. That's the first step toward changing it. Set goals. What's the first thing you want? A better job so you can move out on your own? What's the first step toward getting that? Take that step. And so on. Before you know it, you've baby-stepped your way to a more satsifying life for you. And people with goals, who are actually working toward them, are more content to focus on other fulfilling pursuits, like writing.

Don't worry about the state of other people's happiness. Worry about the state of your own.

Linda Adams
11-15-2008, 11:20 PM
I have a severe case of writers block. I can't think of anything. In fact, I can't think of anything at all! I've read books, but I'm still stumped as ever as how to write one.

Age may have a lot to do with it. I started writing when I was eight. Stories were easy to do because it really didn't matter how good they were or if they could sell. Then I hit adulthood, and the playing field changed--because I wanted to sell them. Suddenly it was a whole lot harder to write and to come up with ideas because all my experience was childhood. I wanted to do bigger things, but both my writing experience and my life experience wasn't quite there.


Where do the authors of books I've read come up with this stuff? How do they come up with great scenes and find the best way to write them? How do they create characters, conflict, plot, everything? How come what's so easy for many is so hard for me?

It comes from everyone's different experiences. Creating characters comes from the people you meet along the way, a meshing of the different personalities to create whatever you want for the story. Scott Adams, who does the comic strip Dilbert, got his idea for the character of Wally from a person he knew. One of my main characters is loosely based on the senior leaders I've met in the last few years. The police officer and fireman are more like the soldiers I knew.

Ideas for plots come from a wide variety of sources. I have one I'm considering now, and the idea comes from a setting--a place I've been. Aother idea I'm playing with comes from family history. The one I'm working on now originated in science fiction conventions I attended when I was a teenager.

I'd suggest at least trying to get out and do things that build your experiences. Maybe visit museums, historical houses--anything that might be worth a look. You really don't know what you might find. I went to a Civil War museum and found a solution a problem I'd been having in my book, which is neither historical nor about war. Save the brouchures from the places because they may have information in them that you'll find useful.

Read the newspapers every day. Anything catches your eye, clip it and put it in an idea file. You might drop in on the advice columns since they have a wealth of information on what people do to each other. Hit magazines, too, and do the same thing. Don't forget non-fiction books, too. The library is a great resource for a lot of this without spending a lot of money.

You might try volunteering somewhere (like the zoo, or the library). It'll give you an opportunity to build your experience and meet many different people.


I'm twenty-six years old, and yet I'm still living at home with my parents delivering newspapers every morning for a living.

When I was in the National Guard, I already had ten years in the service. I was shocked to see how many people were in the Guard unit that were about your age and working at McDonalds. So many of them did that the leadership often didn't think that some people actually worked in jobs where they couldn't take time off.

MentalChaos
11-21-2008, 08:23 AM
I had approached one of my colledge professors years ago regarding my self-inflicted "Writer's Block", and how I could pull myself out of it. His words are reflected in many of the above posts.
"Write; no matter how bad it sounds, no matter how difficult it is, simply write. Don't stop for anyone, not even yourself."
Sure, the words weren't poetic or epic, but they had an impact. What do I do when I feel held back? I write exactly what is in my head, and that IS what they call a journal or a diary :)

DwayneA, I'd like to hear how you've overcome this obstacle!

Clair Dickson
11-21-2008, 11:09 AM
Sounds to me like you need to take some control of your life and get out on your own. There are two ways to deal with what your father and brother are saying-- prove them right or prove them wrong. Which are you doing?

I work with alternative students-- I have quite a few that have been mistreated and kicked out of the house for working a job or trying to go to school instead of watching their sibs or for being the step kid that the new stepmom/dad didn't want. Some did *nothing* wrong. Some of these kids will move in with friends and not bother with school and not bother with getting a good job, and continually bemoan the situation they're in and how life sucks. But SOME of the kids, will work really hard in school, graduate way before they were supposed, work as many hours as humanly possible, plus extra on weekends-- I've even had some that were homeless while doing this, as in living in their car-- and they rise above the shit they were handed. Your situation makes me think of these two types of kids-- some are victims of circumstance and some are triumphant over diversity.

Writing is not really your problem-- life is. I think you need to take control of your life. You're twenty-six-- it's time. Diagnoses or not. No more excuses. And truly, it's time to stop blaming your parents for YOUR choices in life-- like not getting a job or moving out. I mean, they "won't" let you-- what are they going to do, wrestle you to the ground and tie you to your bed if you pack up your clothes and try to leave? Seriously? They can't stop you from living your own life at this point-- only you can do that.

I want to see you succeed, that's why I'm saying what I am. You can do it. And only you can do it for you. I think, once you get life straightened out, you'll find writing enjoyable and easier. (And, really, stop thinking everyone's life is better than you. You *know* that's bullshit. Want some stories, go peruse some of the threads here on AW where writers on this board as for prayers as they go through difficulties with job losses and eviction or suggestions on how to go cross-country to get an ailing relative and other difficulties. Everyone's life has it's own problems.)

KikiteNeko
11-21-2008, 08:18 PM
In times like this, I wish I was never diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (which is something that makes people think differently). That's what turned my life in a new direction. Now dad and my younger brother always saying things that make me feel worthless and useless. Many times, I've considered suicide. Even today, I still think about it. My life is going nowhere and neither is my creative writing no matter how much I read.
\


I have a friend whose sister committed suicide. It was over ten years ago when she was 13.. And now, looking back, it seems like such a waste. It might have felt like her world was ending and it was a big deal, but now she's dead and her family just has to go on. She faded out into the woodwork, and it's a total waste of human life, when she would likely be out in the world doing something she loves and not even THINKING about the torment that once consumed her life.

People have a power to overcome. You can do it, you just have to accept that it's never easy. I lost my dad, who was the one person to always support me. And my mother often tells me that I'll never make any money at what I'm doing... We all have our trials to overcome. We all have doubts. We all have writer's block at times here... Writing is rewriting, writing is being rejected, writing is sometimes writing five books before one makes it to print. Writing is sometimes writing poetry and hiding it in a trunk, and having it published after you've died of old age. But it's never what you expect.

Revelationz
11-21-2008, 10:05 PM
First of all, let's get the bad thing out of the way. You are really putting lots of pressure on people here by saying you're suicidal.

But, don't feel bad. Life can always be worse. Lots worse. How? Just look at the rest of the world. You could always be in Iraq or Somalia.

But, hey, I'm 26 too. I also live at home with my parents :( Yeah, it sucks. I have my HS diploma, I have Associate's Degrees in Business Admin and Criminal Justice, but I still can't find a fucking job.

But, I still get out there, fill out applications, and have aspirations. I bug the shit out of potential employers for a job, and I write something every day. But, lets take this a step at a time.

Have you ever considered going to college? It really broadens your knowledge and experiences, plus it can makes you more employable. While all I have is an Associate's, I do have hopes of getting a job and saving up so I can move to where I can go to a university and get my BA. College opens a whole world up to you. If you can, try it. You'll meet some hot chicks if nothing else.

As for the people surrounding you, fuck 'em. Sometimes you just have to say fuck it. Seriously. Even if you're laughing right now, I'm serious. You can't worry about stuff too much. There's some things that you can fix, and some you can't. What you can fix, work on it. What you can't, fuck it.

For your writing, just write. When I have ideas I want to get out there, I write the ideas themselves down. Then, you want to take the ideas and toy with them. How can I play out this idea in an interesting way? How can I present this so people will enjoy it? What setting do these ideas fit best in?

Many of my ideas have to do with religion, politics, and science. But, you can't just put them on paper and turn them in to get published. You have to entertain with them. You gotta have characters and a setting. You can't just plop them down BLOOYAW! At least not in a story. You have to craft them, mold them into form. First and foremost, you have to entertain. People like to learn, but they want their information in an entertaining way. There are exceptions, but not many.

Read over Uncle Jim's stuff in the "Writing Novels" section. His stuff has helped me a lot.

But, you have to realize that success and independence doesn't come out the sky and lands in your lap. The people around you who are successful worked at it. For most people, success doesn't come easy or free, even if they make it appear so. Life is struggle... at least one worth having.

You can't look at everyday as a curse, though. Every single day is a new, fresh start to get out there and improve your life, and the lives of others. To make new acquaintences. To discover something new. And, if you're a writer, to create new worlds.

I'm not really sure what else to say. God bless you, and I pray that he nudges you in the right direction. Don't pass up opportunities. Don't be afraid to try something new. Live your life, and write if that's what's in your heart. Just know that writing isn't easy either. Even though many peopel don't see it as a real job, it is. It's a career. The ultimate dedication if you are indeed dedicated. It doesn't come easy for me either. God knows I've been writing for years now and haven't been published yet. But, I'm not giving up. I will either get something published, or die with a laptop in my deathbed. Either way, in those last days, I'll know I never, ever GAVE UP.

God bless, and don't give up.

Soccer Mom
11-22-2008, 01:48 AM
This has gone way beyond what belongs in a writer's forum.

Dwayne, I wish you well, but the truth is that a thread here cannot really fix what you obviously feel is broken. I encourage you to seek professional help. IF you wish to talk more about the issue of writer's block, I encourage you to start a thread in the conquering challenges forum.

Best wishes