Blog: Writer’s Block

This week: writer’s block and how to overcome or avoid, guest post on LOB Blog, Gravity’s Rainbow and Kirk Douglas.

Writer’s Block

There is no sneak preview this week because I haven’t written anything. I have also broken my own traditional use of Film Titles again because writer’s block is such an important subject for all writers and I want to make this article as easy to find using search engines as possible. I have a few tricks to share.

To be truthful, I don’t think I am actually suffering what we call the ‘classic’ writer’s block; I simply need a short break from writing. I have written three complete novels this year, two short stories and contributed to three more as well as also editing the novel The Journals of Raymond Brooks and completing my term in a prominent IT role at a London Science Institute. It’s a lot for anybody to take on and only natural that I need a break once in a while. If you read Tip 1 you will see that I simply need to take it easy and get some input from my favourite sources; movies, books and simply thinking. The last for me is something I have always enjoyed. One of the great Greek philosophers once said, if you want to experience please without pain, try philosophy. My thinking more or less involves reflecting one what I have achieved recently including any mistakes I have made, thinking about what I want to do, thinking where all my endeavors fit into the world and my aspirations, and sometimes listening for that illusive ‘voice of the muse’.

There are several techniques I have learned to deal with and even avoid Writer’s Block:

Tip 1

Input or stimulation: I was once told forcibly by a Metropolitan Police officer that if one wants to flourish in any society you need to spend less than your income. In other words input > output. This lesson was most forcibly driven home to me by a few hours in a locked office with a female officer who accused me of verbally abusing her; a completely trumped up charge.

“We have a prison cell ready for you,” I was told. “You only have to make one more mistake and you will be in there.” And with my hair in a pony tail I had no doubt my experience would be very unpleasant. I was a busker at the time and my only crime had been to try and protect a fellow busker’s harp and amplifier while he went for a cup of tea. I was told to abandon it or be arrested. I foxed them by managing to carry my amplifier and guitar, his amplifier and harp, and his seat out of the station. The damage had been done though. It was only after I discovered the female police officer and I both shared a love of cats that I escaped the cell.

This has been a massive digression but it may  explain why this rule of input > output has stuck in my head so firmly. I have since found that you can apply the rule to any creative project just as effectively. Whether you are a painter, writer, poet or musician, YOU NEED STIMULATION. You cannot go on forever creating without getting input from the work of others. Be  it film. music, books or some other form of  art or what we loosely term ‘culture’ these days, you need large doses of it. You need a bare minimum you should get the same number of hours input per day as your output. ie if you write for 2 hours per day, you should get 2 hours stimulation per day.  I would recommend that you get about 30% more stimulation than output.

Tip 2

I have found that working on several projects simultaneously is very good at controlling writer’s block. If you get a bit bored with one, you simply switch to the other. I am not sure whether both projects need to be writing ones. Perhaps this works when combined with music too; it’s worth trying.

Guest Writer Post #68 on the LOB blog (Laurence O’Bryan)

I was invited by Laurence, writer of The Istanbul Puzzle to post on his blog and I have had a lot of traffic from it. Laurence said a few nice words about me which helped; you can never underestimate how important it is for writers to help each other, Thanks Laurence. The post is on the LOB blog.

Gravity’s Rainbow

I am up to about page 280 of this long novel. At 900 pages it is longer than Lord of the Rings! Thomas Pynchon probably breaks every rule of writing; some sentence have no capital at the beginning and others are half of a very long page in duration. Actually, I tell a lie; I think he does always use full stops which is a relief. There are some amazing purple patches of prose. Pynchon has a very easy and relaxed way of moving from one  vivid image to another and he has a seemingly endless font of images to share. I am sometimes reminded of Huxley and I do wonder if he was using some kind of pharmaceutical stimulation when he wrote this book! The book is, as I mentioned, very long and I don’t know how long it is going to take me to finish.

Kirk Douglas

My partner and I watched Spartacus the other day, She loved the premise: slave is the first to visualise the world without slavery and actually nearly achieved it. She hadn’t heard of Kirk Douglas so I have just sent her the link to  his blog: Apart from being the only voice from the golden age of Hollywood still talking, the old guy is still worth listening too. I know there has been some controversy recently in an accusation about him and Natalie Wood but I think it’s worth popping over and reading his blog.


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