I’ve got to level with you about a few things.
First, I don’t get writer’s block. At least, I don’t get the conventional variety of having absolutely nothing to write about. (What makes it even easier is if I can’t focus on writing I can just go find something visual to do.)
Second, I thought of the best metaphor a while ago. It’s not quite age appropriate so I’ll omit some details, but let’s just say writer’s block and erectile dysfunction have a lot in common. Especially if you consider the woman to be the story, and her climax to be, well, its climax. On the other hand, the blue pill of ‘curing’ (rather, distracting) writer’s block works on the ladies, too, so it’s not totally perfect. But hey, that’s life.
The kind of writer’s block people are always complaining about is the one where nothing’s coming out. If you really can’t think of a single idea, why not go read a book or two? You can call it research if you’re reading within your own genre, or you can…you know…enjoy it.
About not being able to complete a story…have you reconsidered your approach? Maybe it shouldn’t start from x point or with that particular perspective; maybe the entire thing would be better told from a different viewpoint; maybe the ending you have in mind doesn’t go with the beginning. It’s important to never remain completely wedded to one ending (and more importantly one sentence or paragraph). This is one of the instances where I really, really can’t understand how believing in your characters is a good thing…more on that later.
So what odd variant of writer’s block do I get?
The kind where I’ve got too many ideas. A constant stream of thoughts may sound like a good thing until you have more than five unfinished stories, two blogs, a bunch of visual side projects, and a couple of books to read hanging out…plus an attention span totally inadequate for dealing with anything but playing The Sims 3.
The best way to deal with this is to give ideas some time to ferment. If it’s been 24 hours–maybe more, if you’re that good at focusing–and it’s still in your head, it might actually be worth thinking about. I’ve started the writing equivalent of a sketchbook, where I give random ideas a couple of paragraphs and come back to them once I have the time to take them further…it’s progressing alright. Sometimes I end up ignoring stuff and finding it months later, intensely confused by where it was supposed to be going. But is that really such a bad thing? It seems pointless to ‘need’ completion.
More on the “lives” of characters (and stories, perhaps) next time….