Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Opposite of Writer's Block

Scott D. Parker

What is the opposite of writer’s block? And, after you define it, what do you call it?

Writer’s block is when a writer stares at a blank page and doesn’t know what to write. Nothing comes to the mind, nothing comes out on paper, and, in the end, the writer is stuck.

The opposite of writer’s block is when a writer stares at a blank page and sees too many things. Everything comes to mind, everything is a fork in the road of a character, there are too many ideas. As soon as the writer gets an idea, this Opposite of Writer’s Block takes hold. Okay, says the writer, my character robs a bank. How? This one, simple question can create dozens of ideas, any one or two of which are good. Let’s say the writer picks the third one, a really good idea. Then what? This fork in the character’s road is a choice. The writer chooses “left” and writes away, but he never quite gives up on “right” and starts pondering the story if he had chosen “right” instead of “left.”

I think you see the dilemma. In no time, the writer is creating alternate universes for his characters, dozens of choices, multitudes of twists and turns, all the while he isn’t making prose. Or, if he is, he’s not making progress.

Now, some of you would say Just pick something and go with it. That’s sound advice. But what about all those forks in the road?

The opposite of writer’s block. What is it called? Because there are times when I suffer from it. I want to name my ailment so I can start curing it.

NOTE: Tomorrow, Do Some Damage is a year old. I have to say I've really enjoyed meeting new readers and carrying on conversations about writing, mystery fiction, and whatever else. We've all had a blast and I hope you, our Readers, have enjoyed the trip as much as we have. Here's to a great sophomore year!


Rusty James said...


And I don't know how to cure it.

JackiAnne said...

You've identified a malady I've been suffering from for quite some time. Maybe we should hold a telethon to raise money for research and a name. There's got to be a cure, there's just got to be!

Kathryn Peterson said...

I suffer from this as well, and sometimes I think it's even more crippling than Writer's Block. At least with WB, you can just force yourself to freewrite for awhile. Sure, you may produce junk, but every now and then, a gem might appear. With this, you write a bit, think, "no, that's not right, well, what if--or maybe I can--" It's exceedingly annoying.

sandra seamans said...

I call it bliss. When I'm writing, all kinds of ideas pop into the story. When I get to the end of the first draft, I can see what works and what doesn't, then edit. All those things that don't work get put into a file for another story. That leaves me with a file of ideas for the times when writer's block rears its ugly head.

Nothing you write is ever wasted. Besides when you take one of those side roads - sometimes it where the story is supposed to go. Not sure if any of that helps.