Wait! Wait, don't put me to the torch! Let me explain, because this will improve your writing. Just give me a few minutes of your time, and I will teach you how to destroy this plague. It also involves a certain degree of life advice, which may sound weird now, but, it'll make sense later. So, first, let's quickly (and objectively) define what writer's block is. Just so we're all working on the same page. Writer's Block is when someone experiences a creative slowdown, typically to an absolute crawl or outright termination of the ability to write anything at all. It has afflicted professional authors, cartoonists, and others who do this sort of thing for a living. So, what do I mean when I say that it's an excuse? Because it's, obviously, a real phenomena. Well, what I mean by it being an excuse, is that, simply saying "I have writer's block" and then succumbing to failure is an unhealthy way of approaching any problem in life. For example: Just because a TV Show writer may fall into writer's block doesn't mean they're suddenly off the hook for writing next week's episode. Imagine if you applied this sort of logic to a job, or schoolwork. "I don't feel like going to work today" means you're fired. "I can't figure out this math equation" means you get a failing grade. Therefore, throw away the self-defeating attitude of "I have writer's block." Remove that sentence from your vocabulary, it no longer exists, because we're going to adopt a healthier attitude to this problem. We're going to try and fix it! Except, well, that definition is pretty vague and pretty broad. It includes a lot of potential things. So, let's break this down objectively, like a scientist. The first rule we will assume for anything writer's block related shall be applying the law of equal and opposite reactions. That is: Every effect, has a cause. Therefore, writer's block must be caused by something. So to solve a problem, we must first know what the problem is, and acknowledge it. Here's a list of the more common causes of writer's block that have affected me personally, or people I know. #1: Emotional issues. This afflicts everyone several times in their lives, throughout their lives. Emotional issues, depending on severity, will affect people in a myriad of different ways, but as a rule of thumb, emotions affect every facet of a person's life, including their hobbies. Which, yes, includes writing, of any kind. Solution: This is extremely complicated and there is no universal answer to this, because it is usually entirely dependent on context. As a rule of thumb, though, you need to address whatever it is that is fucking you up internally and resolve it. Whether that's to gain more discipline and strength over your emotions, or to remove problematic aspects of your life that cause you emotional turmoil, you won't be able to focus properly on any hobby if you're suffering emotionally. You cannot master anything until you have mastered yourself, and that includes your emotions. It's part of growing into a functioning adult. #2: Lack of inspiration. Usually as a result of exciting distractions or when the allure of a newly started role play has worn off, one's interest peters out and all the excitement you had is gone. After that, it's hard to convince yourself to write anything, because nothing comes to mind. Solution: You dun' fucked up. Discipline yourself, gain control, don't let yourself be easily distracted. Remove distractions, and focus on the story in front of yourself. Don't let excitement blindly lead you everywhere: Figure out your consistent interests, and join role plays that reflect those interests. You can figure out your interests by seeing what kinds of stories you consistently enjoy in other media, like games, films, and books. Role plays are group activities, you are making a commitment to the group that you will regularly produce content for the story with that group when you join one. You wouldn't seriously join a soccer team, or a hockey team, and then bail on everyone without warning a week later because you just didn't feel like kicking a ball, or skating... Would you? #3: Too many distractions. We live in a multimedia age where your cell phone has more processing power and applications on it than NASA's super computers had when they were calculating mankind's first trajectory paths to reach the moon. It's very easy to be excited by a role play--or, hell, to be planning on doing anything at all--and then losing yourself in the massive amount of noise that is generated by the things around you instead. This is a problem. A problem you need to remove to the best of your ability. Solution: More discipline (more on that later), and removing all the distractions located in the spoilerbb below. A list of distractions (Move your mouse to the spoiler area to reveal the content) Instant Messengers: Constant visual/auditory attention grabbing. Your focus is turned from writing a story to responding to your friends. "It's just a quick question" you think to yourself as you think of a witty reply. Two hours and a few hundred messages later, the story page is still blank, and you've forgotten what you were trying to write. Music: Some say it helps, some say it hinders, but let me teach you something about the way human brains tick. Whenever the brain hears spoken words, it tries to understand them, taking valuable brain power away from whatever other things you're thinking about, like writing. Ergo, songs with lyrics, are probably your worst enemy. You want pleasant sounds, something to put in the background, something that melts away life's distractions around you while you zone in on whatever it is you're doing. So you probably want something more like this, or this. Something with minimal to no lyrics, and which is primarily a series of continuous sounds, something that'll keep you calm, and steady, and focused. If music of any kind distracts you, but you still need sound to mute out the outside world, try this. Whatever it is, ensure you don't have to constantly press "repeat" on it, that will distract you too. Video Games: Games. GAMES. Probably one of my biggest vices personally, especially if a new game has come out. Why? Because it's easy. You load a game and you think "ah I'll just play a few minutes" and before you know it, it's 3 AM and you're writing a guide about writer's block... Completely unrelated, obviously. Anyway, the best thing you can do for yourself is shut off Steam/Origin/GoG/Battle.net/et cetera, and keep those programs closed until you're done writing. If you are absolutely totally excited about a new game and can't stop thinking about it, let everyone know you have a new game you are absolutely dying to play, and then go completely ham and binge/obsess over it for a couple of days. Get it out of your system. Go ahead, do it, and then come back. Better to binge for a couple of days and work it out rather than struggling against temptation for two weeks straight and writing nothing because you can't stop thinking about it. You may also want more discipline, but we'll talk more about that later. Sugary Foods/Tons of Caffeine: Really, anything that will wire you up into an energetic state is bad for writing. Writing is a thinking man's activity. You sit in one place for a long time, and think of a scene, series of actions, lines of dialogue, et cetera. Sugar and caffeine wake you up, they make you alert, they push you to do things physically. Writing is mental. Stop drinking energy drinks, soda, eating candy, or other garbage like that a couple hours before you start writing, or you're only going to torture yourself. YouTube, Netflix, Movies, Television: These are bad for all the same reasons that instant messengers and video games are bad. It combines both of them into one category. Close your YouTube tabs, shut off Netflix, turn off the TV, and don't put in the extended blu-ray edition of Lord of the Rings. Hunger & Other Bodily Woes: Don't try to write while your bladder is full. Don't try to write while starving. Don't try to write when your body is physically giving you signals compelling you to act on its woes, deal with the woes first. The brain is only as sharp as the body allows it to be. #4: You don't know what to do with a device, object, piece of scenery, et cetera. This usually happens when attempting to describe something you're unfamiliar with. You stare at the page, and you don't know what to do. Instead of writing anything, you choke, and nothing gets done. You beat yourself up and start blaming it on our good old friend, writer's block: The nasty whale of the sea has struck again, and has taken your leg from you. Yarr. Solution: You will encounter this all of your life. You simply... Did not know. You lack knowledge. If you're trying to describe how something works but you have no idea how it works (ex: guns) look them up on Google and YouTube and Wikipedia, and spend the day learning about them. Come back to the post the next day, now armed with more knowledge than you had before. If you know how they work, but just don't feel confident describing it and that's what's stopping you, go down to the "perfectionist" entry, which is #6. #5: Trapped in a scene. So, you managed to get past the opening choke, and are in the midst of writing an exciting scene with players around you. Suddenly, in the middle of the scene (or perhaps the end of the scene), you come upon a terrible realization: You have no idea how to progress this scene! It was all going perfectly before, but now, you don't know how to fix it. You aren't sure how to resolve the problem you just created. Solution: What you've just done is write yourself into a corner, and now, you don't know how to get out of the problem you've created for yourself. Whether that problem is that you lack any motivation for your character in the scene, or you created an obstacle too humongous for them to reasonably overcome. The solution to this is to go to the OOC and ask for help from your partner (if it's a 1x1), or fellow players/the GM (if it's a group RP). If they have no idea how to solve it either, ask them if it would be okay to go back to an earlier point in the story, or if you can have a "miracle" occur where your character suddenly finds a way to resolve the problem even if it's hard to believe (ex: a deus ex machina device). Learn from your mistake, and plan future scenes better next time. If you aren't planning out how scenes will go (at least some rough guideline about them), you uh... You should probably start doing that. Narratives don't spontaneously come into existence, you have to create them yourself. At least have some idea what the current scene is going to be about--what the objective of your scene is (more on that below). After all, if you have no idea where you are, how are you supposed to know where you're going? #6: Perfectionism. Everything you write is terrible, so why bother writing at all? There's always someone better than you. You'll never be better than Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings... Solution: You are your own worst critic. All works have flaws, all stories have errors, all people make mistakes. Atop that, entertainment is a purely subjective point of view: Some people will love what you write, others will hate it, no matter what you do. There are people out there who hate Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. So don't worry about it. Don't worry about what others will think of your work, or how imperfect it is, simply write it. Create it. Do not let the fear of failure rule over your life, you will become a stronger, healthier person for it in the real world, and it will allow you to improve your writing too. You cannot learn how to walk without falling down first. #7: Limited by Character. You create Loner Joe, the world's most underrated Avenger. Except, why would Avenger Joe care about any of the people around him? How can you justify him doing anything at all? You just trapped yourself in a scene again, but this time, it's because you have no idea what your character would do. Solution: This is a two pronged solution. First, make sure your character always has a motivation to see the situation at hand resolved. If they don't have a motivation, then when you get in their head to write for them, neither will you. Second, if your character is of the non-social variety (ex: won't start conversations), then make plans with other players to have your characters physically bump into each other, or be forced into a situation where they must interact. You're the writer, you have more tools than just the character itself to get scenes going, but a lot of people act as though they're limited by their characters, and thus give themselves writer's block. #8: Not enough time. You really do mean to post on time, you do, but you just keep failing to find the time because of other responsibilities in your life. Solution: Make time or don't role play. Really goes hand in hand with most hobbies. You don't become a better musician without putting time into it, you can't participate on a sports team if you don't make time for it, and you can't role play unless you consistently have some time to respond to role plays. You may also want to control how many role plays you join: Joining too many at once will make it harder to keep up and induce writer's block. #9: I forgot about the role play I joined. Completely. ... Solution: Install a calender app and put a daily/weekly reminder on it to check your role plays. If you still can't remember... ----------------------------------------------------- Those are ways to combat writer's block when you encounter it. Now, here's a few tips to avoid getting it in the first place. Mindset: Never allow yourself to succumb to the words "I can't." You will not accomplish anything in life that way. You can, you simply have to try. If you fail, get back up and try again, and again, and again, until you figure out a solution and make it work. Writer's Block occurs more frequently to people who beat themselves up and give up whenever they encounter problems. Fellowship: Most writers have friends and family they go and talk to in order to bounce ideas for their novel. Have you ever wondered why most TV shows and video games have multiple writers on staff? It's mainly for this reason: Idea bouncing. As a role player, you have an inherent advantage in that you always have at least one other person you can talk to about the story to plan things out and work on issues with. USE YOUR FRIENDSHIPS TO COMBAT WRITER'S BLOCK! Friends can help you! Let them help you, and help them when they need it! Hell, a random discussion with friends about writer's block is what prompted/inspired me to write this guide about it! (Thanks @Snakey & @RedWillow really, among others. ) Take a Break: No, really. If you're just aggravating yourself, take a step back. Go grab a snack (not a sugary food) out of the cupboard, listen to some music, and think about the scene you want to write. Don't focus on the problem, focus on the potential for the scene. Once you do that, the problem won't seem so big anymore, and you can go back and tackle it later. Discipline: See? I told you we would come back to this. If you want to become good at anything, unless you're some kind of incredible genius savant, you need to discipline your mind. Be in control over yourself, so you can better fight off distractions and discord in your life. The more control you have over your mind and yourself, the more power you will have to defeat writer's block and focus on your stories. As a bonus, it will help with other parts of your life, too. SO LEARN DISCIPLINE OVER YOURSELF! Plot things out: Forgive the pun, but you really should have some loose idea of what you're doing. You don't need to plan out the entire story from front to back, but when you start a new scene, have an objective for that scene. At least one. Even if it's something as simple as "George and Martha walk into a bar to share a drink and small talk, thus developing their relationship." When you have an objective for a scene, you'll know what to pursue, and by extension, what to do. Which, even if you're suffering from a creative hiccup or a series of distractions, at least allows you to continue the story, because you know how to continue the story. Maintain physical and mental well being: This shouldn't have to be said, but, well, here it is. I'll be your parents and remind you to eat decent food, brush your teeth, shower regularly, do some sort of physical activity so you can keep yourself healthy, et cetera. As said above, your mind is only as sharp as the body allows it to be. If you are suffering physical health issues, it will spill over into your mental state. The two are inseparable, don't kid yourself otherwise. As for mental issues, you have to address them. Whether that's a disorder you get treated with therapy and/or medicine, or emotional scars you have to overcome. Any mental barrier that prevents you from writing properly, or dictates when and where you can write, is your enemy as a writer. Write something, anything: No, really. Do it. Even if what you write is complete garbage, remember that nothing's final until it goes to print. In other words, you can write total trash, but once it's out of your head and in the post box or word processor, a gem of a good idea might be in there, and you can edit around that good idea. At the very least, you keep the story going--you can always fix it later. The edit button will always be there. You can always retcon mistakes you've made with others around you so long as you practice some good old Fellowship. ----------------------------------------------------- Alright. There. I'm done now. I've taken a few minutes of your time to explain myself. If you still wish to stab me with a pitchfork, go ahead. If, however, you've learned something, then I'm glad I could help you. Because you'll never become a better writer until you can at least understand and fight against your inner demons of ego, impatience, and doubt. I'm not at all saying that I'm better than any of you when I write this guide because, well, hey, sometimes I still fall into a writer's block and I have to fight it too. Thing is, aside from one point this year where my life fell apart and I had to walk away to deal with it, (which I came back from a month later), writer's block doesn't stop me from posting anymore. It hasn't in almost two years. It can slow me down, or cause a delay to a post, but it never stops me from posting anymore. And all I wish to do, with this provocative thread title, is to get your attention and hopefully help you defeat your demons, so you can become a better writer... And, even, to a certain extent, a happier person.