Apr 13, 2007

Donna's Writing Book of Wisdom: How to Avoid Writer's Block

by Donna Hatch

Other authors often groan when I confess that I seldom have writer’s block. They probably think that I’m either lying, or that I have some secret channel to the writer’s muse to bless me with inspiration for writing. That’s not true. I cheat. Here are some ways to coax the muse into visiting you.

First, write your story. Write every day, even if what you write is worthless dribble. Just put it down. Most people who want to write never get past the first few pages. Make yourself finish the thing! Give yourself permission to write utter trash. It can always be edited out later and no one ever need know it existed.

I made a goal to write at least 5 pages a day, not matter how bad my writing is. A friend who is published had reminded me to give myself permission to write total bunk without worrying if it was good enough. I didn’t have to show it to my critique partner, or my friend, or my editor. I could always review it later and edit it out and make it presentable before any one else saw it. So, yesterday, as I was in the midst of writing useless rubbish, I discovered something unexpected about my hero which will affect his personality and his motives throughout the entire book.

Now I plot a little; I at least know my characters, where the story is going, and what some of the major scenes are going to be (that’s a whole new topic). But while I was writing absolute trash that I knew I would totally edit out later – or if I didn’t, one of my critique partners would – this surprising back story, which will profoundly effect his characterization, popped up. When the thoughts are flowing and the internal editor is turned off (because I already know it’s really bad writing), something else wakes up. Call it the muse, or inspiration, or what have you, but giving yourself permission to write badly or to write scenes that are pure back story or scenes that have way too much internal dialogue, surprising and wonderful things can crop up. Like discovering something new and amazing about your hero.

So, lesson one in Donna’s Writing Book of Wisdom is to write. Just write. Sit down at your keyboard, or pick up your pencil or pen if that’s your preference, and write. It might be terrible writing. It might be boring or stupid or cliché. That’s okay. Write. And then don’t go back and read it until after you’ve written several chapters. Decide much later if you want to delete it, or move it. Then sit back and watch what wonderful things appear.

In the immortal words of Tigger, TTFN, Ta-ta for now.

Because I still believe in happy endings…


  1. Thanks for the pep talk and words of wisdom. It's almost like grace, isn't it? We have to put ourselves in the position for it to work in our lives. And our writing grace means that we have writing implement in hand....

  2. I fully agree with you,Donna. We do need to exercise our right to write. That's why the 100 words a day challenge is so good. Even a paltry hundred words daily do add up, and the daily practice is, perhaps, the most prized result. I've started writing word count on a little pocket calendar.
    Keep on writing, so I can read you.


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