Writer's block: how do you deal with it and find your creativity again?

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I know a couple of solutions, one I’ve talked about before and one I haven’t.

The one I’ve talked about before: Stop, step back, go all the way back to the beginning of the story, and start reading.

Writer’s block, in my experience, isn’t usually a failure of creativity, it’s a failure of implementation. It’s your brain telling you you’ve gone wrong somewhere. You’ve lost the plot, or you’ve made the characters do something they wouldn’t do, or something along those lines.

You deal with it by going back to the start and reading what you’ve written until you find the place where your brain tries to tell you “ yeah, no, this doesn’t really feel right.” You out your cursor there, highlight everything from that point on, and hit Delete.

Even if that means deleting thousands or tens of thousands of words. You wrote those words once before, you can write them again, better this time. I know it’s hard, but there’s no point in keeping words that aren’t working; there’s no value in them.

I found myself thinking about the second way whilst I was on a video call with Eunice earlier today: write with a co-author.

I’ve been blocked on our fifth porn novel for a while. We’re working on a scene where our protagonist, a young historical linguist who’s only just taken her first adult name (she’s incredibly young by the standards of the City, not even 40 years old yet), makes a crucial discovery after attending a drum circle that’s been running for 84 years continuously.

The details aren’t important, but the general overview is she applies historical analysis to the language of the City by using the 84-year-long recording of the drum circle as a proxy—a kind of toy language, if you will—for developing a technique to measure rate of change in informational schema over time, and from that deduces that a fragment of an unknown language in the archives of the Fiery One, the AI god of learning and knowledge, diverged from the language spoken in the City much, much earlier than the existing linguistic models suggest.

Anyway, talking with Eunice, spending several hours bouncing ideas back and forth between us, shook loose the block.

This is one of the reasons I love co-authoring, apart from the obvious that co-creation is my primary love language. When you’re working with someone else, you can each act as a sounding board for the other, talking about ideas to arrive at solutions neither of you might’ve thought up alone.

A lot of folks say writing is a solitary profession. I haven’t found that to be true at all.

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