Monday, January 6, 2014

Battling the Writer’s Block Monster

by Charlotte Boyett~Compo

Copyright © 2013 Charlotte Boyett~Compo 
Originally published by 1st Turning Point, 2009
Last Updated: 10/24/2013

Charlotte Boyett~Compo

Writer’s block is defined as a condition professional fiction and non-fiction writers develop when they have an inability to create work.  Sometimes the blockage is a few hours, but it can become a juggernaut that rolls into many years of frustration-the end result causing the writer to abandon his or her craft altogether.
Listed as causes of this blockage of creativity are running out of ideas, writing oneself into a corner, or the work attempted being beyond the writer’s scope to actually write it. In other words: biting off more than you can deliver.  A good example of that last reason is a romance writer trying to write outside his or her comfort zone in order to take advantage of the latest market trend.  
I have always maintained that there is no such thing as writer’s block.  To me, the inability to write comes from outside forces over which I have very little control.
The telephone rings.  The doorbell chimes.  The dog wants in and the cat wants out.  Your significant other has a hankering to eat supper now instead of the usual time.  Your MIL is on a rant about something and finds it necessary to drag you into her arena to battle the problem.  You have a cold, a toothache, a headache, your period, or the hot flashes are particularly heated.  It’s raining.  It’s snowing.  Your significant other is snoring.
All those are distractions and-let’s face it-distractions come with life.  Annoying, disruptive situations pop up when we are least prepared for them.  Such things push the writing aside in order for you to get a handle on the interruption.  The writing isn’t the main thrust of what you need to do so you sideline it while you solve the problem at hand.
Some writers have a different kind of writers’ block that is tied in with their mental processes and that’s the hardest obstacle to overcome.  You can put a sign on the doorbell.  You can unplug the phone.  You can take your laptop to a parking lot to get away from pets, significant others and interfering in-laws. Physical conditions are harder to control, but once the flu has run its course or your tooth has been filled, and/or your period passes, so too should those disruptions.  But what about the problem that is within your brain?
Writer and neurologist Alice W. Flaherty in New Yorker Magazine hypothesizes that a writer’s ability to produce work comes from specific areas of the brain, and when that area is disrupted, there is a blockage in the creative flow.
Nothing causes blockage in your thought processes like something that overwhelms you emotionally.
I have never had writer’s block until this year.  I’ve written over 70 novels and not once in all the time I’ve been writing professionally have I allowed the doorbell, the phone, my mother or my pets to sidetrack me from doing what I lived to do: write.  The death of my beloved husband of 43 years effectively did what years of disruptions, nuisances, and distractions had failed to do.
The major depression that has me locked tightly in its embrace is proving to be stronger than I would have imagined, but I am getting help from a therapist who-ironically enough-is also suffering writer’s block while doing the NaNoWriMo competition.  Misery, as they say, loves company.
Don’t try forcing the work to come.  It will arrive on your doorstep when the time is right.  Lashing out at others or turning the frustration inward will only cause the blockage to tighten, drive deeper in your subconscious.  Step back.  Put the work aside and out of mind.  Get a handle on the distractions or the problems that are causing them.
Another option is to take this time while your creative brain is locked up tight to focus your energy on promotion and marketing.  These are often more left-brained tasks, or they take short bursts of creative energy instead of long runs of storytelling.  Spend time building or improving your website, expanding your social networking web, writing non-fiction articles for newsletters or other author’s blogs or websites.  Don’t let this writer’s block shut you down entirely.
Once the distractions or problems blocking your creativity are settled, hopefully your Muse will be satisfied and will once again lead you through the story writing process.
Charlotte "Charlee" Boyett-Compo is the author of eighty books, the first ten of which are the WindLegend Saga. She was married 43 years to her high school sweetheart, Tom, until his untimely death in April 2009. She is the mother of two grown sons, Pete and Mike, and the proud grandmother of Preston Alexander and Victoria Ashley and great-grandmother to Amber Dawn.
A native of Sarasota, Florida, Charlee was adopted at birth and grew up in Colquitt and Albany, Georgia. She says of her heritage: "I was born in Florida and raised in Georgia so that makes me an official Sunshine Cracker!" She has also lived in Alabama, South Carolina, New York, Illinois, Nebraska and now lives in Iowa where she enjoys the changing of the seasons.
Her signature Reaper novels have a huge loyal following and currently she is at work on new erotica novels for Ellora's Cave and New Concepts Publishing. For synopses, excerpts and over 900 reviews of her novels, visit her website at You can write to Charlotte at

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