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Friday, March 15, 2013

Stop Thinking: Getting Past Writer's Block

I've been stuck for a week now. I'm in the midst of a complete rework of my work in progress (WIP in writer lingo). Everything was going well...until I hit a specific fight scene. Unlike Council of Peacocks (out April 2013), this novel is pure epic fantasy. So my muscular warrior woman draws a battle axe to face an undead sorceror and....


I stopped.  I walked away from the computer and I haven't been back yet. Oh, I've working. Just not on that scene. While journaling this morning I realized why I walked away.

I started to think.

I've been fortunate enough to teach a writing class for the last six years. I've read the textbook often and I give great advice to my students.

Stop thinking.

The biggest reason for writer's block is that people allow their internal censor to question the quality of writing before it is even completely. It is essentially the same thing as looking at a 5 year old and saying "You'll never amount to anything. Just give up now."


There is no such thing as a perfect first draft. Real quality is created by editing and revising.

The only way to get a novel finished is keep writing. Even when you know it is bad (especially when you know it is bad) just keep going. Allow your first draft to be complete garbage. Just keep writing. Of course, I can imagine many people out there yelling at the screen right now: "it's not that simple."

But it is. Really. If you don't believe me check with any successful writer. The only cure for writer's block is sit your butt down and do the write. Henry Miller famous said "When you cannot create you can work". Don't kid yourself, writing is hard work. If you are looking for something easy you are in the wrong profession.

That doesn't mean you publish your first draft. That's silly. And lazy. But before you can revise and edit, you have to get the first draft done. So stop thinking about what you want to write. Just do it.


Amazon: M Joseph Murphy on Amazon: Paperback and ebook
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  1. I was just about to dive into editing, stopped by my blog, read your comment, jumped on Twitter, found you, and lost you.
    Found you (new avi? Rocks!), hopped over to your blog, asked myself why in my insane mind I was not subscribed to it, subscribed, and read this awesome post!

    Made me laugh. And I agree. Only that on my first draft I didn't get a Writers' Block at all. Maybe because I didn't care about the readers and wrote it just for me.

    Now that I'm revising and editing it (to the best of my knowledge), sometimes it doesn't feel like something I'm creating, but more like work.

    I guess that what we do. Writing has the fun and the serious.

    Everything ends up being a job. Only that a job can be loved.
    And who doesn't love writing.

    Glad I read this. Now, to the editing jungle of unclear words.

    1. Ah! A comment from one of my favourite people. Thanks. It made me smile.

      I agree completely. I know some people find editing fun. I'm not one of those people. I'm about to start final edits on Council of Peacocks (the novel not the blog). It is hard work. But anything of value takes hard work.

      I recently received a free ebook for review. It as horrible. No editing done whatsoever. The author apologized. He said he'd sent me the wrong version. I then go version after the "extensive" edits. It's still horrible. The story is there but the execution is horrible.

      I teach others how to edit. I almost edit tons of business plans and papers.

      Best advice I can give writers about editing: if it seems easy you are doing it wrong.
      Best advice i can give on first drafts: if it seems hard you are doing it wrong.


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