Writer’s Block, Schmiter’s Block

It isn’t that I never get blocked–I do. Often. For me, writing a story is often a lot like traffic gridlock. There I am, tootling along, on my way to my destination, sometimes on a deadline, and everything stops. Next thing you know, I’m sitting in stop-and-go traffic. Then I look out the window and see that the problem is some jerk who didn’t want to sit at a red light, so he pulled into the intersection behind a line of stopped cars, and now the cars with a green light can’t go anywhere because Jerkface is in the way.

Writing is like that. When I’m blocked, it’s usually because something is in the way. If I can figure out what it is, I can use my god-like writerly powers to reach down from the heavens and pick Jerkface up and put him in that great time-out in the sky.

Except during NaNoWriMo, I seldom write full speed ahead. I usually write carefully and slowly, and what I’ve already done nags me and drags me until I have it good enough to go on. Sadly, that doesn’t always mean it’s good, just that I think it is. I’m learning to cut most of my lead-in, even if I’ve written it to my satisfaction, but I have to write it to my satisfaction first. Then I can go on.

Eventually, there comes a point at which the story flows. After that, if I get blocked, I know it’s because I’ve taken a wrong turn. Somebody reacted inappropriately for no reason. I’ve told too much when the scene needs to be compressed, or I’ve glossed over a scene that needs to be opened up. I’m putting too much emphasis on something that distracts from what I want to emphasize.

During NaNo, I just make a note of this and write on, as if I hadn’t made that mistake. If only I could do that the other eleven months of the year! Maybe I’ll learn to do that, when I’ve been doing NaNo long enough. For now, writer’s block is my friend; it helps me write the way I write, until I learn a better way.

Does writer’s block torment you, or do you use it to help you write?

WRITING PROMPT: Put a character in traffic gridlock, as a perpetrator or as a sufferer.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Writer’s Block, Schmiter’s Block

  1. Misha

    January 29, 2011 at 2:23pm

    Oh my word! Someone who knows what I mean.

    The other day, someone was blocking for no reason and I suggested they go check if they didn’t make a character act out of character or if they broke a rule in their story’s universe.

    I think they thought I was insane.

    I might be, but that’s not the point.

    Usually, if I block for reasons not connected to my emotions, I check for the above errors. If I still block, I know that my creative mind has run out of thoughts, so I relax and wait for the rest of the story to form.

    I usually write full steam ahead so that I can out-write my inner censor.

    Anyway, just came by from Lee’s blog to say hi.


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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 29, 2011 at 4:40pm

      “I usually write full steam ahead so that I can out-write my inner censor.” — Brilliant! That’s what I need to do. Or maybe not. (Yes, I’m Libra–lol) I love the idea, and it works during NaNo. I think I could do it on a good day. πŸ™‚

      Thanks for coming to visit me. I just went and visited you. πŸ™‚

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  2. Mary Montague Sikes - Monti

    January 29, 2011 at 7:05pm

    Oops! Just noticed you’re a Libra! So am I and it sure makes me live with lots of checks and balances!

    Also, is there a way to delete the error in the previous comment. I copied something from Google Alert and not paying attention thought I was adding my normal url! Not!!! Sorry.


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    • Author

      Marian Allen

      January 29, 2011 at 7:14pm

      Fixed! πŸ™‚

      Yes, being a Libra means never having to say, “I’m certain.” lol!

      Permalink  ⋅ Reply

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