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How Not To Allow A Blank Screen To Defeat You When The Words Go Missing

Some believe writer’s block is a myth, while others claim it has ruined their writing career. It can last a few days or many years. How do you deal with writer’s block?

Fortunately, I discovered writing challenges early in my blogging journey. I found them beneficial when staring at a blank screen and words failing to travel from my brain to my fingertips.

But there have been times when I have faced writer’s block when taking up a writing challenge. For whatever reason, the prompt does not motivate me to write. My creative cogs refused to budge, and even walking away from the screen and going on a walk failed to get them turning.

Has this ever happened to you?

Last week, I had one of those blank-screen moments while trying to write something for the weekly 99-word flash fiction challenge here at the Carrot Ranch.

After coming back from a long walk, I thought I’d be able to knock down the writer’s block wall, but it would not budge.

As the blank screen became a nightmare, I started panicking and thinking I would fail. Then I had one of those bright spark moments when I thought, write anything.

As the words began their journey to the screen, a story in my head began to form. I saw a woman sitting in a comfy chair, staring at her husband, who she thought was ignoring her again.

Why was he ignoring her? I asked myself. The words began to flow.

Then another question popped into my mind. ‘Why did the wife think her husband was ignoring her?

It wasn’t long before I had a story from two perspectives.

After writing both stories, I set them aside for 24 hours and allowed them to rest. The next day, I read both stories and began editing them.

I don’t know about you, but I never publish the first draft of anything or write and publish something on the same day. Didn’t I read somewhere from a well-known author that the first draft is always, umm, shall we say, something that attracts flies?

But although writer’s block seemed defeated, I now had another dilemma. Which of the two stories was I going to cut down to 99 words and publish?

I could have asked for feedback on which one, but I had a gut feeling about one of the stories and went with it.

Do you always go with your gut feeling when making a decision?

Given all the many pieces of flash fiction I’d written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge, I knew which of the two stories my readers would like the most. Another gut-feeling? Yes, but I saw a dark edge to one of the stories, something I always hope readers will pick up.

I cut the story to 99 words and weaved in the dark edge, trying to make it slightly more obvious.

You can read my piece of flash fiction, The Squeaky Husband, here.

A couple of days after staring at a blank screen with failure sitting at my side, I was having fun rewriting and editing a story born from writing a Christmas wish list.

Yes, that piece of flash came from writing my Christmas wish list. Any words help. It doesn’t matter what they are.

Writer’s block? What is writer’s block? Did it exist on that day, or was it something I’d made up because other writers believed in it?

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you conquer it?

Copyright © 2022 Hugh W. Roberts – All rights reserved.

About the Author

Hugh W. Roberts lives in Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.

Hugh gets his inspiration for writing from various avenues, including writing prompts, photos, eavesdropping, and walking his dogs. Although he was born in Wales, he has lived in various parts of the United Kingdom, including London, where he lived and worked for 27 years.

Hugh suffers from a mild form of dyslexia but, after discovering blogging, decided not to allow the condition to stop his passion for writing. Since creating his blog ‘Hugh’s Views & News’ in February 2014, he has built up a strong following and now writes every day. Always keen to promote other bloggers, authors and writers, Hugh enjoys the interaction blogging brings and has built up a group of online friends.

His short stories have become well known for the unexpected twists they contain. One of the best compliments a reader can give Hugh is, “I never saw that ending coming.”

Having published his first book of short stories, Glimpses, in December 2016, his second collection of short stories, More Glimpses, was released in March 2019.

A keen photographer, he also enjoys cycling, walking, reading, watching television, and relaxing with a glass of red wine and sweet popcorn.

Hugh shares his life with John, his civil partner, and Toby and Austin, their Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

You can follow Hugh’s blog at Hugh’s Views And News and follow him on Twitter at @hughRoberts05.


9 Comments

  1. denmaniacs4 says:

    Hugh, a delightful 99-word tale. I will be going to great lengths not to squeak around the house from now on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Blocks happen. I’ve taken many “writing breaks” this year and have often worried my mojo is broken. Stories don’t appear and write themselves as easily as they once did. And that starts a vicious cycle. Like wondering what the point is anyway. Criticizing the quality of what I do write. Yet, I hang onto the quill. Try to meet at least one challenge a week. Some weeks are better than others. When the cycle starts or the block is there, I just have to relax into it, ride it out. I at least have written enough previously that I have some confidence and faith that blocks do pass. This week I have more ideas than time! The biggest job is to keep the faith in the ideas, work them out.
    Thanks for the post, Hugh! You look real good up on the Saloon stage.

    Like

    • Writing blocks do pass, but it’s a shame that they sometimes arrive in large groups, as ideas do. Fortunately, ideas seem to come more frequently than writer’s block does. It’s funny, though, how some writers don’t use words to get over writer’s block. It seems obvious now I’ve written about it, especially given that I am struggling with this week’s 99-word flash. But I took my advice, and now I wonder what was blocking the story that I got.

      Thanks, D; being on stage can be like a rabbit in the headlight, but it’s worth it when I know what I’m saying is helping.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. JT Twissel says:

    Sounds like you’re a visual learner and are inspired by the people around you. I love long walks in the forest but I must say – sitting in a coffee shop people watching inspires me more.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sadje says:

    I’m guilty of publishing my first drafts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to do it, but then I got told that the challenge was open for a whole week, so there was no need to rush, write and publish something all on the first day. It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Take your time with it. As a result, my writing has improved immensely (or so I’m told).

      Some bloggers publish entries to writing challenges within minutes of the challenge being announced. When reading them, I can often see how much better it would have been if they had left that first draft for 24 hours and returned to it. First drafts can constantly be improved.

      Liked by 2 people

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