Welcome to my blog!

I am a lefty. I write vertically, cannot use can-openers and was recently foiled by a right handed ladle (I will have my vengeance...) but more than this, I generally seem to approach life from a different angle. I appreciate that this may have nothing to do with being a lefty and may just be my own dysfunctionallity, but after earning the nickname 'Lefty-Flip' after a frustrating game of Guitar Hero, it seemed an appropriate title for this blog.

Monday, 29 August 2011

An Old Foe

Ah, Writer's Block, Writer's Block... We meet again old chum.

He strikes at the most inappropriate time, when I have a day off work, the house to myself and the cats are sleeping quietly... There He is shaking his head saying 'not today, no...put the pen away...'
But what's the best defence when this dreaded foe blocks your path? Charge on ahead, or take a break and try and find another way around?

For me it depends on what stage of writing I am at. If it's a first draft where I am basically in the process of pouring my brain onto the page, any kind of break in the process could mean an idea is lost forever. I recently had this stage described to be as 'The Mud Pie Phase' which I absolutely love.
When wading through mud pie, I find it is essential to push on through even if it means resorting to a list of bullet point ideas and in some cases, half finished sketches.
More often than not I end up with a cringe worthy section which sounds as though it has been written and illustrated) by a hyperactive eight year old 'and then this happened, and then they went here, and so-and-so does this...' but that's okay, because the bare bones are there and the ideas have been saved, and I can charge on ahead with whatever next scene is trying to burst from my head.

However, there comes a time when bullet points and doodles won't cut the mustard.
When your story is all laid out, and the plot developed what do you do next time you hit a wall?

Well the truth is, anytime I've ever hit a road-block is because I didn't know what I was writing about. I can't write dialogue for a secondary character if I don't know more about them than the reader will ever learn, and I can't write about the current events of a story if I don't know the details of the events that led them there.
I hate these times because it essentially means that yet again, I have not done my homework, a bad habit it seems I will never break. But with no teachers to give me a telling off, it's time for a spot of self discipline! And I am happy to say that my answer is much nicer than a spot of detention.

Times like these I find it is more help to take a break, of sorts anyway. The problems still lingers in the back of my mind, but it's on a back burner. I try and do something that requires very little thought, a spot of housework (oh yay) writing a post for my fledgling blog, going for a run/walk, or something nicer like taking a bath. Something where you can let your mind wander off on a tangent. But whatever you do, remember to take pen and paper with you!
Because when you least expect it, a wonderful idea will fall into your head giving you just the tools you need to knock that block out of your path, and you don't want to have forgotten them by the time you get home!

I am here this afternoon because once again Sir Writer's Block is telling me off for having not done my homework. History this time.
I don't know how my characters got to where they are, so I can't properly explain why they are doing what they are doing now! It is quite likely that no one need ever know this back story, it certainly won't make the final edit, but I  need to know it. And so does Sir Block.

So on that note, I am off for a run. Or, seeing as it looks like rain, maybe a nice bath instead...

PS when writing in the bath remember to take a Biro, not an ink pen...


  1. Love this post! Have you ever read anything by Marion Milner? She wrote wonderful books of self-analysis such as 'A Life of One's Own' (1934), 'An Experiment in Leisure' (1937) and 'On Not Being Able to Paint' (1950) (my favourite title ever!). She found out - just as you've done - that the very act of trying, when you're stuck, is what needs to be given up. She said, "the ideas I needed for my work would... come silently nosing into my mind after I had given up all attempt to look for them." (Love that 'nosing'...) Good luck with Sir B!

  2. I intend to give him what for later! Probably at 2am when I am meant to be sleeping!
    Thank you for the Milner tips - will be sure to check her out. Thanks also for being my first poster - more silliness to follow!


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