Breaking through mental barriers – a writer’s view

Following a couple of interesting posts at Mad Genius Cub, the writers blog, by a couple of my fellow authors there, I decided to put up my own approach to dealing with writer’s block and other mental barriers.  You’ll find it over there.  Here’s a brief excerpt.

This morning I’d like to offer my own approach to the problem – which is pretty straightforward.  I take the literary equivalent of a roto-rooter to the blockage, and bore my way through it by brute force.  If one avenue of approach is blocked, I abandon it and take a completely different one, then turn back from that road and bore my way into the problem from another angle.  That’s worked twice for me so far, and looks set fair to work a third time later this year.  Let me explain.

I’m a combination of plotter and pantser when it comes to preparing to write a novel.  I work out the initial plot and structure in my mind, and frequently set it out in point form in a document.  However, this is never set in stone.  Those blasted characters turn out to have minds of their own (often of fiendish deviousness), and can head off in different directions almost before I’ve realized that they’ve left the straight and narrow path I’ve worked out for them.  I then have to go haring after them, screaming “Come back!  You’re my creation, dammit!  Where the hell do you think you’re going?”  Sometimes, they listen.  More often than not, they don’t…  (Sigh)

Sometimes I just plain get bogged down.  I can’t make the plot or the characters go where I want them to be, and all my efforts feel flat, uninspired, and frankly boring.  A couple of weeks of this, and I’ll be climbing the walls in frustration.  I’ve learned, in such situations, to make that frustration into a spur for renewed creativity.  I simply shelve what I’m working on and tackle something completely different.

There’s more at the link.

I think the basic approach – redirect your energies to something else, then come back and tackle the problem with a renewed and refreshed mind – applies to almost any sort of activity.  Go read, and see what you think.



  1. Playing music every day for a week, then putting down the instrument for a few days and picking it back up, always seems to open up new possibilities and ways of playing. This seems to be in the same line of thinking. Our brains just need a vacation , or a chance to digest.

  2. I've always wondered how writers are able to stop train of thought, put it away and then pick up again like it is nothing. Thanks for letting us in with how you accomplish this.

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