Wednesday, August 24, 2011

RTW: Breaking the Block

It's a very busy blogging week! Today I’m taking a break from the Spark Blogfest to instead participate in another Road Trip Wednesday.

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on our own blogs.

This week’s topic: How do you beat writer's block? Do you go for a jog? Read a book? Go to a movie? Come on, share your secret - we're dying to know! 

I wish I could beat writer’s block with a jog – it would be good motivation for increasing both my story planning and my exercising! But whenever I try to go on a brainstorming jog, my mind gets too caught up in the rhythm of the run and I just end up repeating phrases in my head rather than really thinking about them. Apparently when my legs are running free, my mind just can’t. 

And as much as I'd like to claim reading or watching TV as a cure for writer's block, for me those activities are just enjoyable but guilt-inducing procrastination. :-D

So what do I do when I have writer’s block?

I go to the bathroom.

Um, yeah. I discovered this quirk in grad school. So many times I would be working away on an essay in a coffee shop and get stuck. Often I’d have to go to the bathroom (lots of lattes + smallest bladder ever), and miraculously the perfect sentence would often strike me by the time I returned to my table. Maybe it was actually the Epiphany Toilet from Scrubs:
Or, more likely, it was just the change of scenery and my moving around that sparked a new idea. 

This method still works pretty well for me, though usually only for small scale writing blocks. For the bigger stuff, like solving major plot snarls, I usually mull over the problem as I’m trying to fall asleep. (This is one of many reasons I’m a bit of an insomniac.) It helps to be in a relaxed state and not have the pressure of the laptop screen staring at me. Thank goodness for this guy:

My glowing pen lets me jot down my nighttime ideas without (1) blinding myself or (2) scribbling something in the dark that I can’t read the next morning.

So, those are my writer’s block busting secrets: bathrooms and glowing pens. Yes, I'm a bit strange. :-P

What about you?


  1. That glow pen looks awesome!

  2. Definitely :-D I vaguely remember getting it as a Christmas stocking stuffer forever ago. I hope I find somewhere to buy more!

  3. Oooooers, glow pen = great idea. I usually text myself my epiphanies that I receive while mulling over ideas while laying in bed (that was a LONG sentence). Because I do the same thing you do! And I can't problem solve while I exercise either. I can only make sure I'm still breathing. o_O

  4. That glow pen looks so awesome! I actually get a lot of my best ideas in the shower...which usually ends with my roommate knocking on the bathroom door because I always end up spacing out with the water still running.

  5. I find that cooking and eating help break the block. They both involve moving and thinking in different ways, while not being exhausting and boring like exercise.

  6. Going to the bathroom is the best tactic for dodging writer's block that I've read. I'm remembering that for the future. Thanks.

  7. Eating definitely helps break the block, but if I used that solution all the time I would gain 10 pounds for every story that I finished! Sadly cooking and cleaning don't usually break my block -- it would be nice to have that extra motivation to do them!

    And thanks cleemckenzie :-)

  8. Kris - Love the breathing comment :-) I do have my phone handy at night, but by the time I've acclimated to the blindingly bright screen I usually forget what exactly I wanted to text myself. Softly glowing pen for the win. ;-)

    Stephanie - I am often a shower idea person too. It was much better back when I didn't have to pay for water though...

  9. Hey, I'm popping over from the Spark Blogfest. I've always wanted an epiphany toilet! Love Scrubs :)