Tuesday, July 5, 2011

When the Dog Days of Summer Come Early

Posted by: Cindy Spencer Pape
Yes, the title is a reference to a Gordon Lightfoot song. Yes, I'm that old.

So, oops, I was supposed to post yesterday. I've been doing this lately--forgetting to blog on my various groups. Which is a shame, really, because I find the group blogs a lot more fun than my personal one. Yesterday was a holiday here in the US, of course, and my husband and I went off to a local Renaissance Faire, so I have some sort of excuse, but really? I just plain forgot.

It's been that kind of summer for me. And it's only July. I really need to kick my butt back into gear. I got very little written last month, and I've got deadlines approaching. Also, when I don't write I tend to get cranky, and well...let's just say my family wants me to get back to work as well.

I think I see my brain laughing and sticking its tongue out at me from under my desk.

The problem with a creative career, like writing, is sometimes the ideas just don't want to flow, for any number of reasons. Sometimes it's when I have submissions out, and the waiting-to-hear nerves get the best of me, or right after a disappointing rejection. Sometimes it's because I'm stressed about something else in my life, like my husband's job or my kids. Other times it's seasonal, the heat of summer or doldrums of winter, but not usually this early in the summer. No matter which it is this time, (and truthfully, it's a little of each) I don't like it, and I definitely need to kick it.

My usual approach to this has been, 1) if I'm not on a tight deadline, work on another project. Sometimes switching gears will re-ignite the fuse. 2) MAKE myself sit in the chair, give myself a minimum number of words, and keep going until I hit that word count even if it's dreck. Often just the process of writing will get me jazzed to continue. My third strategy? That one seems to be sit and play minesweeper and whine.

Yeah, that's not such a good one. Bad author, no biscuit!

I think today it's going to be, "no fun for you until you hit 1K." And we'll see where it goes from there.

I'd love to hear how you manage to beat the writer's block blues. Leave a message below. If you're a reader who doesn't have to worry about that, just tell me how you're enjoying your summer. I'll pick one commenter at random by midnight tonight to receive a free download of one of my short stories (Ellora's Cave Quickies, TEB Lust Bites, or Wild Rose Press Mini-Roses.) Meanwhile, I'm off to get back to work.


  1. I used to just walk away from the computer, watch a movie, read a book and then come back to it. Now of days writer's block has green eyes, blond hair and is two years old. Hope you find a way over it. Your work is eagerly anticipated.

  2. I go back and self-edit. If I'm in a series work (which is happening more and more lately at the request of my publisher), I go back and re-read prior work in that series. If these don't work, I walk the dog, take pictures in my garden, read a book, or work at my editing job. Sometimes finding the right music helps, too. Lately, my blocks have been weird--I know what needs to happen in the story, know where the plot is leading, and even know exactly how a scene should be written but when I sit down to do it, nothing happens.

  3. I just walk away. take the dogs for a walk. Read a few pages from a "classic" novel (this one usually works for me) and when all else fails, I create a series of tweets about something that caught my attention. 140 charcters is easy and it gets the creativity flowing again.

  4. Because I'm also an artist, I get art block, too.

    The cure for both, is similar. For art block, I go wander around local art galleries or hang out at DeviantARt online. For writing, I pick up and re-reread one of my favorite books. Both fuel and jump-start my imagination.

    The problem is, lately, I've had very little time to do both.

  5. As a reader I envy your creative side and wish I knew what you were going thru. But my creativity stops at figuring out how I can make 3 year olds lunch different each day. No big plans for the summer except making sure my son has swim lessons this year. Good luck to all and thanks for keeping me happy in my never never land!!

  6. Writer's block. Ugh. I think the thing that helps me most is exercise (I love a hard core cardio workout) or soaking up the vitamin D. Summers are always hard for me because I want to be outside or playing with my kiddies. I write best when it's raining or snowing, not sure why, so sometimes I turn on the sprinkler outside and pretend like its raining. It works :)

  7. here is a solution that I've found works for me:
    put aside every single lingering WiP and editing project. Put a virtual blank sheet of paper in the typewriter and write a short story using no already written characters, scenes or set ups. The short format sexy story to me is difficult so I challenge myself with it when blocked. But usually, I have the opposite problem. Is there such a thing as Writer's Diarrhea? If so, that is my ailment---too many ideas, no time to get them all out!
    thanks for the great post and for your friendship Cindy!

  8. Some times you need a couple of days off to get the juices flowing again.

  9. I find making myself write works best. After some time slogging away, often the story takes over and the words start to flow a little easier. A bit like getting your second wind when jogging (not that I do much jogging!)

  10. Reading! then again, reading is my cure for just about everything ...

    Sometimes just giving yourself permission to sloth for a couple of days works, too.

    For me, I know a vicious case of writer's block mid-book means I've taken a wrong turn with the plot and need to delete back to the point where I feel like writing again. It's painful to lose all those words, but the book is stronger and I'm writing again :)

  11. When I get stuck, I have a few things I do, depending on what I feel like:work on a totally different manuscript--maybe I'll write a short story or jot down notes on an idea that's been tickling my muse; if that doesn't work,muck around with Photoshop, sometimes that loosens up the muse, just because it engages a different part of ye ole noggin'. If it doesn't work, then I'll Finish a book I'm reading--or at least a few chapters. If *that* doesn't work, I'll fire off an email to my trusted beta reader, or corner my hubby, and talk the problem out at them. Sometimes just saying it out loud to another ear helps get me unstuck.

  12. I do a The Thirty Minute Challenge. I set my timer for thirty and just write. I don't even think about it judgmentally. If I can't start out with anything, I will grab a dictionary and randomly pick three words on three different pages and start with those. Five minutes in, something starts to work and often times thirty turns into several hours and a short story. Once that's put out of the way, the old edit notes that have been rolling around in the back of my skull seem a lot easier to tackle. :) -Kara

  13. Thanks everyone! The winner was Kay Springsteen. Kay, you can email me at cindy at cindyspencerpape dot com to collect your prize!

    I appreciate all the comments!

  14. A day late ... which is kind of funny since you're post was a day in and of itself as well. When I can't seem to face the blank page I find myself surfing the web and um ... reading blogs. *sigh* Guess I should get off the internet and be productive.

  15. Read...until I come out of my funk. Sometimes that's a paragraph. Sometimes it's an entire series...


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...