Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Break on Through

It's bedtime. I've been busy all day and evening. So I am falling back on the BlogHer NaBLoPoMo prompt: 
Have you ever had extended writers' block? How long did it last? What did you do to break out of it, and do you have tips for other bloggers? 
Photo courtesy of Death to the Stock Photo
I don't know if I've had extended writers' block but I've definitely had extended writer's lethargy. When I was working on my dissertation, I sort of gimped along writing a chapter a year. And then my dissertation director got sick, really sick, hospital sick, no one would tell us what was going on sick. I didn't write at all then. I'm pretty sure it was the prayers of desperate graduate students that kept him alive. But when he was back in the saddle, I giddyupped. I developed a punishing schedule of writing in the library for an hour before work. Going home and eating dinner before returning to the library for 3-4 hours. Every day. Weekends too. I got out of the house and wrote. (In the house, there was too much to do, and that distracted me.)

A change of scenery may be in order.

You can also do a sort of stream of consciousness blather until you hit upon a germ of an idea. Then you take that idea and start over. No one wants to read the blather, really. That was always my favorite strategy when I was teaching writing. But that worked better for me than for most of my students because if there was one thing they didn't enjoy it was rewriting.

But there's lots of ways to get ideas. Read blogs. Read your comments. Answer people's questions. Explain something that you know better than others might. Dive into the controversy. Revisit old posts. Google "blog post ideas."

I think for a lot of bloggers, it's not so much having writers' block as it is failing to plan. Blogs started out as online diaries, so it was really a matter of posting when we felt moved. But things changed. Blogging became more professionalized and you had to keep up to be heard above the marketing. Now, if you plan to have a following, you need to plan. (As I have failed to do. Do as I say not as I do.) (Actually that's not entirely true. I meant to post my WIP, but I forgot to take a picture of it in the daylight. I could take a photo of it now but it will be crappy.) There are lots of good suggestions for blog planners online. There's even an app for that. True story. But it's a lot easier to get out here and write if you know on Wednesday you write about your WIP and Friday you post about old women's magazines. For example.


Lee said...

Extended writer's lethargy. A perfect description.

Maggie said...

See that's my problem, i don't plan, and sometimes i feel like others will not want to read my drivel, lol. Although if they are as nosy as me they might :-)


Margaret said...

Change of scenery and hiding away from other responsibilities is definitely important! Otherwise you can't get anything done. Taking breaks too is important. :D

The only way I keep going on my blog is to know that come Monday morning, my next blog post should be up. Otherwise I would have abandoned my blog long ago. Schedule is all that keeps me going!

Susan said...

Great advice from both you and Margaret . Now I just have to start using it.

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

I find that mild OCD is a great motivator. I noticed after about three or four months of blogging that I had made the same number of posts for each month after the first one. So now I am compelled to make that number every month.
Signing up for the SALs also helps give body and structure to my blog posts.