Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mental Blocks and the Insecure Writer

Today is April's contribution to Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group.

What makes me most insecure as a writer this month? Getting stuck in a scene or chapter and not having a clue how to get past the problem. In fact, it happened to me two weeks ago. I needed to rewrite a chapter using a different POV and the difficulties in delivering all the necessary information to the reader in this new format were kicking my butt. I sat and thought about it for a long while and piddled around with the words on the page, but nothing happened.

Eventually I did what I always do in these situations. I just sat down and started banging away at the keyboard. I don’t bother trying to reason my way out of the mess. I just try things. Randomly, if need be. Moving sections around, adding stuff here, taking stuff out there. Rewriting sentences over and over again until I’m sure I’ve tried all possible permutations. A brute force approach. Just hammering away at the WIP for days (or weeks) until I finally hit upon the right answer (usually by accident) and then everything falls into place and the world is right once again.

So far this technique has never failed me – assuming I don’t stop until I’ve solved the problem. But hammering away at your WIP based on a blind faith that there must be a solution and that you will find it is a surefire way to feed your insecurities. Especially after a week or two.

Just so you know. I solved my problem about three days ago, so my sleep patterns are back to normal.


  1. Haha, I'm glad that works for you! Brute force :)

    Usually, I go around the problem and come back to it when my brain has figured it out on its own. Avoidance, haha ;)

  2. Sometimes, all we have is blind faith :-)

  3. Aha! I found you. So now I know where you hang out and that you bang away at the keyboard just like I do when I can't decide how to fix a problem. Sometimes I think my brains are in my fingers. As soon as I'm done typing this, I'll cross them that you send your pages soon and that I finish my taxes soon because I had an unexpected brainstorm while out walking this morning. I can hardly wait to revise my chapter 6.