Others have said: It’s OK. You can take a break.

Loafing is the most productive part of a writer’s life.

James Norman Hall

Every now and then, I stumble across some published author’s quotes about how there is no such thing as writer’s block, because real writers sit for hours and write.

I don’t agree.

I see myself as a real writer. It’s a little hard to miss, when writing takes up such a significant portion of my thoughts. Not to mention my time.

But I get some nasty writer’s blocks.

In fact I think my current record is three months of wanting to write but failing to, because the words wouldn’t come.

At one time, this really bothered me, because I’m supposed to be a writer.

Until one day I realized that there’s a very good reason for my blocks: there’s something wrong with the story that my mind registered, but that I didn’t pick up. Yes, I know that sounds really weird, but I’ve seen it time and again.

So what’s the best way to combat a block? Some people say that you have to write through it. I’m not saying they’re wrong.

But, if you’ve tried writing through it and only find yourself mired deeper in your block, leave the story alone. Try writing something else. If you find you can’t write anything, take a break from it. Do something else.

I prefer to do something creative, but that does not take as much thought. For me that’s usually drawing something related to the story with which I’m struggling. If that doesn’t work, I try my best to avoid poking at the problem, so that my muse can sort out the problem in peace.

But remember not to be discouraged. Because giving up on it all together lets your mind work on something else rather than on the story.

So yes, while annoying, blocks might just be part of your writing process. In such a case, loafing really can be the most productive thing that you can do.

What about you? Do you find that you have to take a break or else you get stuck?


24 thoughts on “Others have said: It’s OK. You can take a break.

  1. I totally agree. I beat writer's block by doing the washing up. Seems to work every time!

    It reminds me of a quote from the movie 'Bright Star' about John Keats. Charles Brown says:

    “If Mr. Keats and myself are strolling in a meadow, lounging on a sofa or staring into a wall, do not presume we're not working. Doing nothing is the musing of the poet.”

  2. I don't think I've had an actual writer's block, but sometimes I need to step back from a project and work on others. Most of my writing happens in my head before it ever appears on paper.

  3. When I feel mentally blocked, I get up from the computer – sometimes for an hour, or a day or two – never longer than a week.

    I find that just removing myself instead of forcing it, makes it work out…the words and scenes come easier. It's just enough time to clear the head and see where the words needs tending, watering, and weeding.

  4. I think I've tried everything under the sun to deal with writer's block. But I do think it's important to get up and do other things…sometimes I get so consumed by the things I haven't done in my writing, when all I need to get inspired is to get a little perspective by actually living a little.

  5. I'm just coming off some writers block. I found the best thing for me to do was to edit something else and get away from the project. I'm not sure if I'm a write through it kind of person.

  6. This reminded me of something I read that Orson Scott Card said. To paraphrase him, writer's block is an indicator that there is something wrong with your story.

    Ergo, if you get stuck, pedal back and see if something's off.

  7. I take frequent breaks and try not to feel guilty about it, because I end up over compensating later. It all seems to work out, but I tend to not write more than I write, which I dislike about myself and am trying to change.

  8. I most definitely need to take breaks. Some of mine are life-imposed, but that's okay, too. Ann Patchett wrote that there is no such thing as writer's block. I totally disagree. There are many blocks to writing–both in the mind and in life. As writers, we simply need to do as you suggested, Misha. Thanks for the post.

  9. Life sometimes forces me to take a break and I don't like it. If I get stuck on a W.I.P. I just work on something else…I just write something…anything. And Happy New Year!

  10. Sometimes we have to process and ideas need to compost awhile. There's nothing wrong in that.

    We all need breaks now and then, whether it's just thinking things over or switching projects.

    Happy 2012!

  11. There are times where other parts of life take priority of my writing (alas this is true) and I have to focus on those bits before I can give my full attention back to my WIP. A good break is always, always a great things for your creative mind and soul. Walks, a day off or a weekend helps. Depends what you can give time wise but when the muse is not in the house, sometimes you've just got to find her.

    Happy New Year! I hope 2012 is everything you wish for!


  12. I've found I sometimes have to let a story sit for a moment and ruminate a bit. But while it's ruminating, a good book is a nice distraction and sometimes helps to 'click' the inspiration on for what may be needed to right your writing ship.

  13. I too have been in a severe writing pit; this block I underwent was the largest I have ever experienced. I put away the trilogy I was working on and started a new book.

    I feel working on another project is the best way to clear the cobwebs and catching up with our reading is another great way to beat the blues.

  14. Very timely post…am glad to not the be only one taking a break from “proper” writing. I read, create some poetry, catch up on my photography, go back to people watching and then came back to writing. It works. Happy new year with lesser blocks. 🙂

  15. I definitely encourage taking a break from time to time. Writers block is something that I come down with a lot lately, so it's always nice to get a recharge. 🙂

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