Saturday, June 6, 2009

Hemingway on Writer's Block

Check out this idea from Ernest Hemingway on combating writer's block:
The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.
(quote from Ernest Hemingway on Writing, courtesy of WriteToDone and Lifehacker)

I've tried that a few times, stopping mid-sentence a few times. The only problem I've seen with it is I forget how I wanted to continue the sentence. I'm debating about even making some notes to myself on where I'm headed.

What do you do to keep the words flowing?


Encouraged In Heart said...

To keep the words flowing I've found myself do one of two things either get out in nature to clear my head or read for inspiration.

Was researching an interesting author Laura Jensen Walker (writes for women, AF vet, and funny too!). On her website she had some great quotes that I wanted to share with my S.A. buds!

“Best advice on writing I’ve ever received: Finish.” --Peter Mayle

“You have to throw yourself away when you write.” --Maxwell Perkins

“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time, or the tools to write.” --Stephen King


Jen said...

I love the quotes, Steph! The idea of throwing myself away when I write is strangely comforting.

When I get stuck, ideally, and this has happened a few times, I just write whatever stream of consciousness is happening at the time until I catch the trail back to my project.

Most of the time, I have to say, I just quit, set the work aside and let my mind fester over it for weeks before I have the courage to face it again. Not a recommendation.

Jimmy said...

Interesting points, and I disagree w/ Hemingway strongly. I can hold the idea of what I want to write, but I find it better to get it out ASAP. I can only justify stopping if I hit a rut and feel like I need a break or if I feel like I've written 'til I'm "full" (i.e. the ideas might still be running, but I've spent so much time and energy writing that I need to pull away).

Whenever I hit a rut, I try to keep bouncing ideas around in my head until I come up w/ something. If I don't figure anything out, though, I find it helpful to put it on the shelf rather than turn to various sources hoping to find an answer. The answers usually come when I'm not expecting them, so that's what works for me.