Thursday, June 26, 2014

Conquering Writer's Block by Jessica Therrien

I honestly don’t know a single author who hasn’t had writer’s block at least once in their career. Most of the time it’s a regular occurrence. For me it happens every novel, generally around the same point each time. I wish I had the recipe for some magical writing potion you could brew….wait….coffee anyone? For each author, breaking the block is different. So even if I did tell you to spin around twice and chug a Pepsi while holding your breath, chances are you’d just end up really dizzy and bloated.

What works for me is simple. I sit my butt down in front of the computer and force my fingers to type regardless of whether or not I like what I’m writing. Getting the content out is the hardest part. Like Anne Lamott says:

The first draft is the child's draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page. If one of the characters wants to say, "Well, so what, Mr. Poopy Pants?," you let her. No one is going to see it. 
Now, practically even better news…All good writers write them. This is how they end up with good second drafts and terrific third drafts.

If you haven’t read her novel, Bird by Bird, you’re in for a treat (especially if you’re a writer). It’s titled based on a memory she has of her brother who waited until the last second to write an essay about birds when he was a child. Her father, an author, told him to take it bird by bird. This philosophy has helped me in writing every single sentence in my books. Some days I take it sentence by sentence. Others, page by page. Writing 300 pages seems so daunting, but if you take it “bird by bird” ….well, you end up with a book.

What helps you get through the process of writing?


  1. I totally needed THIS reminder today! I'm now writing the first draft my sixth book, and I find myself trying to rein it in instead of letting this draft get all "So what, Mr. Poopy Pants" on me. :) I have to let it run like the wind...for now. Great post! Love that book too!

  2. Good stuff! Anne Lamott is one of my favorite writers because she is so genuine and down-to-earth. I absolutely love Bird by Bird, and it's one of the simplest but best pieces of advice out there.

  3. Great advice! I'm in the hating part of my wip and have no idea what to do in the middle. I'll keep this in mind! I have that book, too. Maybe I should read it. :p

  4. Bird by Bird is a great book. Great advice to push through and keep writing. I recently had to remind myself of this.

  5. Ha - getting your butt in the chair is the most important step! :)