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Discussion Starter #1
Every once in a while, the ZONE, as Edward P. likes to call it, gets evasive. So what do you do to find it again? Hopefully authors will share some of their techniques and tricks here. I could definitely use some new methods. I'll share the one I use most frequently.

This is akin to a word web, except it has no topic. I start with a made up word, like "zympocyz." Then I set a timer for 60 seconds and scribble as many words as I can around this made-up word. Try to use a timer that chimes, dings, bongs, or whatever so you don't have to concentrate on it. When your mind tells you, "I can't think of any words," it has just given you six words to write down. The first couple of times doing usually result in a small list. After using this method a while, you'll find your list of words growing.

Once you have spewed forth 60 seconds of random words, start organizing them into sentences. When I first started doing this, I would render a bunch of unrelated sentences. Now, I can usually come up with something vaguely connected. After about 15 minutes or so, I find I'm back in the creative ZONE and can return to working on the stories I'm writing. Every once in a while, this technique give birth to new twists for my stories.

A second method I use, for milder cases of ZONE-out is to start typing: Once upon a time... and let my fingers continue typing. The "Once upon a time..." thing can be deleted later.

Hopefully, this will be helpful to someone. I'm looking forward to seeing what other authors do to regain the ZONE.

Thanks for reading,
Tanner
 

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Great thread!

I try to take a line from a song or a quote that's in my head or just a random sentence that sounds vaguely ominous and go from there.  It's very much the same approach you take, sounds like.

My first Markhat story was built around a line from a Billy Idol song (from the album Neuromancer) -- "..and I'll make for the Kingdom, if I can."

So I asked myself "What kingdom?  What's it like?"

Other times I get mad and I swear off writing forever and I pitch a brief silent fit and then I grab the first file I see and start editing it.  That helps too.



 

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When I hit a dead zone, I figure my story has gone off track and I have to read and probably redo what I've just written. 

When I was a paralegal, I found when I couldn't think of the right word to put in a sentence, it was because there was something wrong with the sentence itself.  I'd scrap the sentence and start over again.  No sense trying to fit a round peg into a square hole by bashing it with a mallet. 

 

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When I feel stuck, I put down one simple sentence after another until I get into the flow.

***'Jack opened the door and walked outside.  The air felt cold against his skin.  He pulled his coat tight around his chest then started down the steps to the parking lot where Jill was waiting.  She looked so small behind the wheel of her father's Lincoln, and for a moment Jack wondered if he was making a mistake.  Maybe Ben was right, maybe she was too young to handle what was coming.  Jack didn't know, and it really didn't matter anymore.  What's done was done.  Besides, everyone had to grow up someday.'***

Something like that.  One sentence after another.

Hope this helps.
 

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I have to admit that I completely subscribe to the "Allow Yourself to Fail" method as coined by the screenwriters of The Lord of the Rings. Whenever someone in their writing team had writer's block, they simply kept writing until the story took the shape it needed to (even if the first few attempts failed to do the story justice). I think many writers are afraid that if they simply wrote whatever comes to mind that they will lose their story. However, the "Allow Yourself to Fail" writing method isn't any different from brainstorming which is why it not only helps a writer to overcome writer's block, but it also allows the writer discover new story paths that were previously invisible to them. A story doesn't have to be perfect the first time around. That's what rewrites are for.

 

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If I truly feel blocked, I stop writing. I get on the scooter or sneak the Spouse Thingy's motorcycle and go for a long ride. Since I have to focus on what I'm doing--because frankly, dying will not really help writer's block--the walls come down and the words sneak from the back of my brain to the front. By the time I've gone 50-70 miles I can usually get back to work.

If I can't ride, I find getting away from the desk and either writing elsewhere (I write quite a bit from the Border's coffee shop) or simply taking a walk and talking it out (to myself...this is where one of those nifty blue tooth ear thingies comes in handy...you can talk to yourself and no one laughs) does quite a bit to work past those blocks.

But for me, forcing it by sitting there writing whatever doesn't work. I either have to completely get away from it, or I have to go somewhere else (and intentionally not think about it in transit.)

It's a good excise for a ride :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I've never tried writing at a coffee shop. Of course the closest one to me is about 55 miles down the road at a Barnes & Nobel. I might have to do that sometime though. I know JK Rowling does most of her writing in something similar.

Thanks for the replies. There are several strategies I intend to try here when next the evil block knocks upon my door.

Tanner
 

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For me, writer's block is an illness that can vary in severity from the common cold to cancer.

I don't try to deal with it. I just ride it out. There are reasons it happened: either I've hit a spot that resurrected things in my psyche I can't cope with at the time (it's all about exorcism); or I've yet again considered the many other books that already encumber the world and wonder if it's worth trying to buck the heap; or I'm going through some crisis or other.

Eventually these afflictions abate or go into remission, and alll's well. In the meantime I just focus my creativity someplace else, making or doing...and I read the best books I can get my hands on, because beauty for me is key to the cure.

CK

 

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LOL!!! That's a great shirt! ^^^^

It helps for me to take a secondary character and write from his or her POV for awhile. Sometimes I cover something I've already written from the narrator(s)' perspective, other times it's something completely different, sometimes unrelated to the story at hand.

If I get REALLY stuck, I go for a drive on the interstate at night. It nearly always helps to unblock me. I think it's the steady rhythm of the overhead lights glaring on the windshield.
Or else I take a shower. I don't know why, but my muse always finds me when I'm in there. If some kind soul would invent an inexpensive waterproof laptop, I'd be all set.
 

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When I get stuck, which is the worst thing in the world when I know where I want to go with a story, I can sometimes walk away from it and read a book. It may clear itself in a couple days and with just a flash the tale will get back on track. Then there are the times when nothing works and I switch to writing just for me. Not working on my main series or the other stories that will eventually be published, just writing on stories for fun that I can't do anything with really. I think the popular term is fan-fiction but I find that working on one of those helps to get my brain thinking about the main tale I was trying to write and then I can get back to.
The worst thing is when I get blocked on writing fan-fiction. ::) Then there's nothing I can do but wait it out and read.
 

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I no longer have the slightest writer's block, thank goodness. But I did, when I first started out--and suffered greatly. Maybe this little insight will help. I know it clarified things for me.

Many writers try to create and edit at the same time. But these are two very different functions. Creation is random, uncritical, more like play. Editing involves objectivity, discrimination--an entirely different set of premises and mental muscles.

If you will just let it flow without being judgmental and defer the editing till your words are down on paper, you will experience a wonderful new freedom.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Psychoanalysts have long known that when patients really learn how to free-associate without inhibition, they are nearing the end of their treatment.

So try to free-associate on paper. You can always fix it--or trash it--later!
 

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I busted through a 5-year bought of bloke about 8 years ago by studying screenwriting. Helped me TONS! I think it was studying something different that helped me, took away a lot of the anxiety of creation by allowing me to focus on formatting for a while. I wrote two screenplays over a few months, then I switched back to short stories and eventually novels and have been writing ever since.
 
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