Oxford defines writer’s block as "the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing."
It is a malady that torments many writers, challenges most, and prompts others to deny its very existence. It also inspires some to provide creative remedies.
I investigated some of these remedies today after reaching a point in the second American Journey book that demanded at least a pause. The pop-culture site Flavorwire compiled advice from more than a dozen famous writers.
Most of the writers advised doing something specific, such as taking a walk or making a pie (Hilary Mantel) or writing "the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat" for two weeks (Maya Angelou).
Mark Twain suggested breaking "complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one."
I have found one of Mantel’s approaches useful. When I reach a dead-end point in the writing process, I take a walk — a long walk in a natural setting, away from noise and electronic distractions.
Like Twain, I also break the complex into the manageable. I will often set up a scene on Tuesday, describe it on Wednesday, and revise it the next week. When tackling complex parts of a novel, I’ve discovered that two (or three) chapters are better than one.
I am currently seventeen chapters into my latest work, a tale about a grandmother, daughter, and granddaughter who venture back to New Jersey on the eve of World War II. I am making good progress and expect to complete a first draft by the end of August.
With or without writer’s block.