writer's glug

Found a new blog today, QwertyRash, thanks to its owner leaving a comment on one of my entries. In browsing through the archives I found an entry on bloggers/writers block. Chris talks of two kinds of block: being bereft of ideas, and experiencing "writer's glug":

where you have the ideas but writing feels like walking through deep mud – quite laborious.

Perfect description.

I don't often feel bereft of ideas (can't remember a time, in fact). On the other hand, I do sometimes feel rather uncharitable towards those ideas I do have. It's a dark feeling, casting through your mind and hating everything you find. But I find it's mostly mood-related rather than any intrinsic fault in the ideas themselves, and during my writer's loathing moments, as it were, I remember that I'm simply not being rational and I move on. Sometimes that means writing (anything, including a journal entry), more often it means exercising or watching a video or reading something. Anything to break the mood.

But writer's glug is a harder beast to grapple with, I think. Because it usually strikes me at the weak moments: when I'm writing that agonising middle third of a novel, where nothing makes sense and you can't hold it all in your head any more and you're pretty convinced your doubts are not doubts but in fact rational assessments… we've all been there.

Chris gives some good points as to the other reasons why writer's glug might strike: stress and conflicting priorities, focussing too much on the writing and not giving yourself enough downtime, etc. I know I'm guilty of all of them, at one time or another!

My own trick for combatting the slog is to offer myself a treat: to work on the laptop in front of the television, for example. It means I work much slower than normal (on the other hand, I don't tend to surf the net so much), but it also means I get some work done where I might have done nothing instead. It only works for a limited time, however: pretty soon the couch and TV is more a habit than a treat — but luckily by that time, writing back at the desk is the treat.

7 thoughts on “writer's glug

  1. Actually, I've found that putting myself in a position I really don't want to be in (for example, sitting on a railway station in the middle of the city at 11:30 at night with a 20 minute wait before the train comes surrounded by mildly scary people) is a really good way to become suddenly very FOCUSED on writing. Anything to distract myself.

    I don't think I recommend this method. Heh.

  2. I don't think I'll be trying that method any time soon, thanks all the same! Although I have noticed sometimes white noise is really helpful for focus; other times I find it too rattling and distracting. Sometimes the entire 3-hour train trip can go by and I'll emerge with pages reamed with revision notes; other times I have to quit, five minutes in, because I'm too jagged to concentrate. No idea what the defining factor is either way.

  3. Hmmm…could be a new reality tv show here, though. Extreme Writing. Surround writers with scary people, or dangle them out windows, or put them in the middle of a toy store near Christmas. Prizes for the fastest novel, runner up prizes just for surviving, or for writing anything other than "oh dear god i'm gonna die i'm gonna die."

    No. Better not give Hollywood any ideas. Or "concepts," as they say in tinseltown.

    And I find myself wondering what term we should use for when a writer has just gotten bloody bored with what they're writing. Writers mehs? No. Hmmm. Must think about this…

  4. For goodness sake, we don't need yet another reality show! (Isn't there already one for writing? I have a memory of blogging about that a while ago, an Idol-style setup.)

    As for the topic boredom? I quite like "the meh's" as a mood. although i'm more likely to come down the mean reds than the meh's.

  5. Later, after my lame joke about reality tv shows, i remembered the old Monty Python skit with the BBC show with a novelist writing his novel, with the frequent updates from the overly excited reporter. "The — we have the first word. THE!" And then they turn to the experts to comment in the studio…

    I'm leaning towards "The Bloody Frellin' Dear God Choke Me With My Own Intestines I'm So Frellin' BOOOOOOOOOOORED" blues. 🙂 But that may be too pithy.

  6. Thanks damseklfly – glad you liked. 😀

    Gregory – I think I read once that if you find your writing getting boring, you should kill one of the characters. Or at least throw in something totally out of left field – as after all, life is stranger than fiction.

    It may inspire the idea you really need, or reinvigorate you. Maybe boredom is a form of being bereft of ideas? hmm… otherwise, how anout writer'szzzzzzzz

    Tess – lmao!!:D I find something less dangerous (altho sometimes only marginally so) is writing for avoidance… eg "Can you put the dishwasher on?" "No sorry, am writing" Then you've actually got to prove it too!

  7. For me, boredom is an indication I haven't thought through the idea properly. It's my way of telling myself to stop and really look at what I'm working on, because I've missed something. Sometimes it means the story is unworkable, too thin to be a story without more cooking time. Sometimes it means I've neglected an important issue, or the structure is unbalanced.

    On the other hand, sometimes it simply means I've been working/thinking/breathing/sleeping on this project so darn long I really, really need a break from it.

    I'm quite good at the writing for avoidance part of things, especially to avoid housework or odious social outings. Living up to that, however…

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