Writer’s Block? Talk It Out.

At last month’s meeting of the Long Island Writers Group, we discussed methods of breaking through writer’s block. One of our members mentioned how talking with someone about her assignment or writing, explaining what it was about, helped her overcome her block, because helping it make sense to someone else helps it make sense to you.

I agree. Just yesterday, I visited my alma mater, Hofstra University, to chat with one of my professors, who continues to be so supportive of me and Baby Grand two years after graduation. I mentioned that there was something about my main character, Jamie, that seemed to be missing and that I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

“Tell me what happens to her in the book,” my professor said.

So I did. I traced her path, from beginning to end, and explained in generalities her transformation and the ways she was different by the end of the book.

As I was talking, it was like the proverbial light bulb went off. I was able to visualize in my mind what I needed to do to make Jamie’s journey clearer in the reader’s mind and make her more relatable. I think in my rush to finish the book, I gave my main character short shrift when she deserved a longer moment in the spotlight, a proper ending to her story.

“You need to say that. Make the reader feel that. Exactly what you just said,” my professor said.

This isn’t the first time this kind of thing has happened. On many occasions, my husband will ask me what I’m working on, a freelance assignment, and I’ll tell him casually and in the process come up with a killer lede or an interesting angle that I have to run and jot down before I forget.

Talk it out. To someone else. Or even to yourself. I can’t tell you how often I’ll be talking myself through a scene while driving my car or in the shower, and I’ll suddenly have a breakthrough.

You’d be surprised at what you can learn about something you thought you already knew.


5 thoughts on “Writer’s Block? Talk It Out.

  1. Writing is such a solitary experience for me. I’m not sure I could talk it out with someone else, but talking it out to myself, or even thinking the scenes through, helps me see things I’ve overlooked in my headlong dash. I also keep a journal and when I encounter a writing problem I will sometimes “talk it out” on its pages. I envy you the relationship with your professor. :)

  2. Look, I need to understand what I can do to get through my writer’s block. I am working on a historical novel, one that is about my family, from 1870 (and before) to 1947. Our family made history in the West. We have places named for our family. All of this, after researching records, and analysis, makes me so involved in the process that it is hard to write, I have to do it, over several nights.

    One of the problems I have is that the Muse doesn’t visit until I have consumed enough Rum to knock down Captain Bligh. My writing is astute, very much in depth, correct cronologically, and correct historically.

    I am quite frankly getting tired of having to get completely plastered enough, to have The Muse visit.

    I am so damned greatful when I DO get a visit, and I DO write. What should I do?? My writing, stony cold sober is blah x 10.


    • Gosh, writer’s block remedies are different for everyone, just as writer’s block is different for everyone. It’s just a matter of finding what works for you and makes you happy in the end. If “talking it out” doesn’t help you, there are lots of things to try — reading, writing another novel, taking a walk, etc. Give some of them a try. Good luck!

  3. It took me awhile, but I did find a solution that does not include rum. (!) Music is my key. (no pun intended.) I bought CDs of sound tracks from films depicting that era, selected some from each for my “writing” play list, and lo and behold, I found I could write while drinking nothing stronger than a diet Coke. And, I did share the outline of the story with another writer working on a history text. I finished my book a little more than a month ago, and am shopping for an agent.

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