UK GLBT Meet 2011 – Beating Writers Block

ukmeetWell, I had a brilliant Saturday. I got up at 5am (ok, that wasn’t so brilliant) and got the train down to Milton Keynes. Lucy Felthouse and her Baker extraordinaire other half picked me up and we arrived at the Holiday Inn Express with plenty of time to spare…about 2 hours, actually!

It was brilliant to see so many people there, I think I could approximate that there were 40 or more authors/readers/publishers in that room and it led to a lot of interesting (and occasionally naughty!) conversation. We started with introductions and a few general questions then we all fell upon the mountains of food the ever generous folks had brought with them.

After lunch we had the panels, Total-E-Bound told us all about the advantages of eBook publishing and of being published with them (Well, I knew all those already!) We had Historicals explained by 3 knowledgeable individuals and found out some great tips for social marketing too. The last 2 panels were dropped but everything else went pretty much to plan!

It was all over far to soon and I was whizzing back up to the north West on one of those tippy trains virgin now have, it’s like being on a rollercoaster sometimes I can tell you! What will always stick with me about the day is the genuine loveliness of all the ladies and gents in that room. I think I could have happily spent the day just going round and chatting to folks!

Anyway, I did a little presentation on Beating Writers Block so I’m going to let you in on all the secrets I shared! I’m afraid you won’t get the full impact of the wonderful visual aids I had at the meet but I’ll try my best to make up for that with wit and photos stolen from the interwebs.

Take a Break

Go for a walk / Get fresh air / Think it out. Just get away from the computer for a bit and let the characters talk to you!

Different Style

Write long hand, Try a different medium. This can also symbolise just keep writing!

Exercise

Exercise! The blood pumps to your brain faster and you can think clearer. Regular exercise has been proved to improve brain power. I got some really interesting suggestions of what kind of exercises you could do with this rope…. ;)

Eat Something!

Eat! Sometimes we forget and eventually we run OUT OF energy. Break for food when you need it. I did emphasise I mean real food here, not just the *enter snack of choice here* you have by the side of your computer with you at all times!

Skip a Scene

Start at a different place. Skip the scene that’s blocking you and write something more exciting and enjoyable. *nudge, nudge, wink, wink*

Keep Pushing On

Write one sentence at a time. Just keep pushing on. Okay, it might not be your best writing BUT you can go back and edit. You’re just ‘breaking through’ your block.

Time Yourself

Time yourself. Give yourself 20 mins to write, having a time limit often helps.

Write with Friends

Write with your pals! Organise a group of people and write online together or even meet in the real world (now there’s a novel idea) at a library/cafe. When your time is up share your word counts! This is good for the more competitive writers among us!

Treat Yourself

Treat yourself.Set yourself targets and rewards for reaching it. A chocolate bar for reaching 1000 words, an hour watching your favourite telly show for finishing a chapter etc.

Relax!!!

Relax. Step back from the writing and chill out for a bit!

Something New?

Start something new or write something completely different even if it’s only a quick flash fic piece. A change can be as good as a rest so they say!

These were the ideas I came up with but the room of clever authors and readers came up with many many more, so if any of you clever folks want to share your hints and tips here please add them in the comments!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my recollection and my sort of presentation. You should all plan to come to the bigger, the better, the much more awesomer (hopefully there will be a panel on grammar I can attend) UK GLBT Meet next year!

14 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Hi Victoria

    I loved your talk on writers block, the ideas were really good (the chocolate is my favourite!!). I didn’t mention it on Saturday, but if I am trying to write a particularly romantic bit, I play romantic music and it helps sometimes!!

    Caroline

  • Hiya! I suggested going back to the start of the scene and writing it from a different character’s POV :-)

  • Elin -A special place, awww that sounds nice. :) I have a special time instead of space and that’s in the morning while everyone else sleeps.

    Jo -I love the character interview idea, I will tuck that away for when I need it! :)

  • Hi Victoria – thanks for such an enjoyable and infomative talk :D

    My contributions were to interview your characters and ask them what needs to happen next, or conversely, why they won’t do what you want them to do (always a fruitful one with my characters)

    Also, to make friends with your muse and ask them for help.

    And someone mentioned something about using random words/images as triggers, and I suggested tarot cards. I haven’t tried it (don’t actually own a set), but I’ve heard it can work well if you get a detailed set.

  • Hi, Victoria. It was an excellent talk. Thank you so much for giving it and thanks for reiterating it here. I’ll bookmark it for future reference. :)

    Alex has commented on the usefulness of Write or Die. I’m not a particularly fast typist but with it even I can manage 500 words in 20 minutes. They may not be excellent words but at least they are something to work on. Two or three 20 minute sessions a day adds up to a respectable word count that one can look at with satisfaction. Nothing succeeds like success.

    The other thing I find most useful is have a ‘special place’ to write. That isn’t quite a precious as it sounds. When I’m doing the general internet fun things, I have my laptop on the main thoroughfare through the house – a place where I KNOW I will be disturbed and so I find it very hard to concentrate there. Upstairs I have a corner of the spare bedroom with a clunky old PC and once I shut the door my mind is in a much better frame to settle down and achieve something. I really admire people who can write with their family all around them. I wish I could.

  • Chris – I felt more chocolate was needed. ;)

    Jenre -I’m so glad you enjoyed the bath bomb and it was lovely meeting you too. :)

    Erastes -Ah yes, a brilliant addition it was too!

    Serena -A nap? well if you insist… ;) Another great suggestion and it was lovely to see you again. :)

    Alex -Both brill suggestions. Write or Die still sounds a little drastic for me though. I don’t do well under pressure. *LOL*

    Clare -I’m so glad you’re writing again, yay! And great advice too. :)

    Jay -Fantastic! I’m so happy to hear these tips actually work, yay! Thanks for your suggestions too! :)

    See? I told you these UK GLBT meet folks are a clever bunch.

  • Thankyou for that, Victoria! Several of those (especially the “one sentence at a time” and “start something new” ones) came in very useful yesterday in breaking through a particularly problematic writer’s block that was beginning to look a lot like Uluru. Once the first crack appeared, the writer’s block proved surprisingly fragile. Yay!

    One of the suggestions I made was to use photographs or drawings to help you bring focus to your characters, a little like how crystal balls or tea-leaves are used in scrying. If you can visualise your characters more easily, you can visualise how they’ll interact within a scene and at that point you simply write what the characters do. I almost always have a couple of photos up on my screen when I’m writing. One key tip though: don’t go for anything too explicit. It’ll be distracting.

  • Great summary here and I *love* your pictures :).

    I suggested READING – not just for fun *g* but to re-inspire. When I was feeling low in self-confidence once, a friend recommended I read two things, one from an author I admire in the hopes it’d inspire me, and one from a book I had a lower opinion of (!) so I could tell myself “I can do better than that!”.

    The talk was very useful, and has given me a bit of a kick to start writing again after a quiet spell :).

  • Hi Victoria! It was great to meet you on Saturday, and thanks for the excellent talk :)

    I know someone else mentioned http://writeordie.com/ Write or Die, but I use it a lot too. It forces you to write the first 500 words in a set (short) amount of time, which I find gives me the kickstart that I need. After the first 500 words I revert to just writing as normal, because by then I’m in the right mood for it.

    I also use The Writer’s Brainstorming Kit by Pam McCutcheon and Michael Waite, which is a pack of cards with a word on each card, and a book that gives ideas for how each word could be used in either plot or characterisation. It gives you something you can use to nucleate an idea, like dusting a cloud to give rain.

    Alex

  • Thanks for a brillaint talk on Saturday, and a great summary here on your blog. My ‘contribution’ to the list was to take a nap, since that can sometimes either trigger a ‘dream solution’ (as often happens for me), or at least remove the fatigue you have been feeling. Freshly rested brains working better and all that. :-)

  • It was an excellent talk, and the brainstorming was great too. HOpefully we can put all the talks up on the new website.

    My idea was talking to someone else, not necessarily a writer, or even a human–I talk to my dad (who is human) and the cats (who think they are) and I talk to myself (the jury is out on that one) specially in the car, which often jolts something loose.

  • It was lovely to meet you! I’m glad you enjoyed the day as much as I did and I really enjoyed your presentation. Your bath bomb was awesome BTW :).

  • I note that the qty of chocolate has grown between saturday and today. Loved the presentation! Well, well done.

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