Writer’s Block? It’s okay to take a Break… Really.

Half of the planted garden

Half of the planted garden

Is Writer’s Block a real thing? Yes, and no. As authors, you walk that strange little tightrope if you complain you haven’t been writing because you have writer’s block. If you do, you’ll usually get one of two responses. The “Oh, don’t worry, go read, draw or take a break and it will all come back to you in due time,” to “Seriously, that’s such a lame excuse, just write and stop being such a pansy, whiny baby.” Now, maybe other writers really don’t call us whiny babies, but we feel that way.

Tulips growing around the house

Tulips growing around the house

I guess the question is, “are you writing to pay the bills, or writing for fun?” I write for fun. Sure, I’d like to pay the bills and do this full-time but at the moment, even with seven books in market and another on the way, my editing, covers and formatting cost more money than the royalties I’ll bring in for that book in a year. I’m not complaining, it just is what it is.

But writer’s block. Is it real? I think it is. I think it’s like your back hurting or being exhausted. Sometimes I think our brains simply need a break. It’s like working out the same muscle over and over. If all you do is squats, or ab work, you’re going to burn that area out. Sometimes you just have to break up the exercises to allow other areas to get trained. So for me, when I’m struggling to work on a novel, before I stress out too much and pull my hair out (yes, I’m not immune to this as I’m at this point right now still stuck on chapter five of the Kelsey Porter series, and have been stuck for two sort of frustrating weeks), I suggest doing something else to occupy your mind. Draw something, go on a vacation, go to a museum, garden. Do something that’s interesting and makes you happy. There’s nothing worse than allowing ourselves to get stuck within our own minds and making ourselves crazed. Writing is fun, but it’s hard work. It’s REALLY hard work and anyone who thinks differently has never done it.

dahlias

dahlias

While I struggle through book #3 of my series, I put together all my horror short stories into an anthology that is being released next month. It’s called Ricket Row and is at the formatter now. Once that got sent to the formatter, since I still struggled with the book, I put together all my science fiction short stories into another anthology and now I’m editing THEM. While I’m not necessarily writing, I’m editing and still creating. I won’t lie, I wish this third story was coming easier, but at the moment, it isn’t. I pull it up, and think about it nearly every day, but it is what it is.

So instead, I try to keep myself busy. I do these editing projects above, I garden (I put out my entire veggie garden the past few days) and I planted tons of flowers and bulbs. These things make me happy. Things are growing and I feel like I’m creating.

So I leave you with this… when you struggle, take a teeny step back. You’re not giving up, you’re simply resting your brain. Do something to “find your happy.” I guarantee you that your writer’s block will end at some point. Just give yourself the permission to let it end at its own pace.

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31 thoughts on “Writer’s Block? It’s okay to take a Break… Really.

  1. Just what I needed. I’m in the same place-stuck in the middle of a WIP. Think about it constantly, just planted a (small) garden, editing other pieces, waiting…

    Thank you for this post.

    • You’re welcome. Just keep letting the story mull in your head and play it out a few different ways. It’s taking a bit of a long time this time, but I’m sure it will come, eventually! Thank you so much for commenting.

  2. I agree entirely. The best thing to do when you have writer’s block is to give yourself sometime to rest. Forcing yourself to stare at an empty page will just make you frustrated, whereas taking a break will allow you to come back to your project with fresh eyes.

    • And I also don’t believe just putting words down is the right thing to do, unless it will get me to the next chapter, which is not the case. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

    • Sometimes I’ll even write a completely separate chapter about a side character in the book – something about them as a youth – or some scene that will never be in the book, but gives me a reason to write about them. Take your time, it will come. Thanks for commenting!

  3. I have discovered that thoughts begin to move freely if you do something else for a while. Something creative, and can be anything. I get useful ideas doing the weirdest of things…
    Love this blog…

    • Nothing’s weird if it works, right? I just sort of sit and muddle around and think about it. Sometimes I try to research something about the book to see if it spurs an idea. Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

  4. I find that taking a short break, walking around, making coffee often helps me sort out a tangled set of sentences. But if I’m stuck on a chapter for a week or more, it’s because there’s something in it that just doesn’t work. At that point, I start that section over and write it from a different perspective.

    I wrote on my own blog over a year ago how a friend helped unblock my writing, http://ow.ly/Lturp. It was a simple comment that added up to: just tell the story.

  5. Writer’s block is real for me. There are times I just get too burnt out and I have to take a break. My brain hurts and I just need to do something that is not writing related. So much of my time is thinking about writing even when i’m not writing, so when I got bogged down with all the thoughts, I must decide to set it free and do something fun. Think about something else. Great post Elyse! I think most writers can relate to this.

    • I hope so. I’ve been reading some comments on writer’s sites where people are so unkind – chastising a writer for being lazy, and they should just write. Fact is, sometimes you need a break.

  6. If you watch the Olympics – swimming competition. Each of them stroke like crazy but still, from time to time, they surface to get a gasp of air. So it is with writing. You need to take a breath – new oxygen will regenerate the brain. Keep up the good work. #3 will happen.

  7. I believe we are doing research when we stop writing and go do something brainless, like watching TV. My favorite is watching Animal Planet. Suddenly I learn something about a strange animal and it morphs into a scene in one of my sci-fantasy books. I jot down the scene so I won’t forget, and then go for a drive with hubby. Now I appreciate how the wildflowers looks as we pass them on the road. Great! I have a scene for the historical journal I’m writing for the next mystery. Research done. Scenes jotted down and my mind starts reeling off dialog in the WIP scene that seemed to drag. A little fun can definitely help jog our brains. 🙂

    • I so agree with this! Love how you call it “doing research.” Sometimes I’ll go and read a book sort of about the topic I’m writing about, or will visit someplace relevant – so happy you commented. Thanks for sharing what you do!

  8. Writers block is a tricky thing. I often take a ‘break’ from what I’m writing to write something else. That tends to help me refresh more than anything. If I stop and watch something I fade way! ha!

  9. Good post, Elyse. I think that if you’re able to write something besides your WIP, you don’t have writer’s block. You’re just stuck on a point in the story. Writing something else is a good cure, at least for me.

    • Yeah, I guess it’s not quite complete writer’s shut down. I just go and work on something else, though I wish the current WIP was progressing more. The anthology was something I had always thought to do and so when this happened, I simply said, why not?

  10. I write for both. Luckily, when writing for fun, I don’t get writer’s block, because I’m writing non-fiction about my life. I do find it hard to always crank out humor. There are just times when an idea sounded funnier when I thought of it, than I’m able to articulate on the page. In those cases I take a brake. I still have drafts of blog posts from two years ago, waiting for the “funny” to come to me. LOL!!! But I have experienced writer’s dread when it comes to writing for a living. Sometimes you have to just force yourself to sit down and start writing, because deadlines don’t go away. BLECK!

  11. If I could step away and take a gander at the beauty around me more, I would. I’m trapped by the whims and fancies of a workaholic slave-driver… I do manage to step AWAY from the big screen occasionally, and I’ve got fun, embarrassing photos to prove it. BAHAHA! Great post lady!

  12. Writers block is very real. Sometimes I just sit and wait for words to come. But other times I can’t even get myself to do that. And it really is OK to take a break. Great post.

  13. Pingback: Why you Must Monitor Comments to your Posts on Social Media Sites | Elyse Salpeter

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