Writer’s Paralysis

Some days, I get into a state of writer’s paralysis. (Not writer’s block. That’s when you can’t come up with any ideas to save your life; or at least, that’s how I make the distinction.) It’s when you have too many ideas and too many situations you could write about in your current story, so you get paralyzed just thinking about how to organize them all. That happened to me again yesterday and it’s been happening on and off for the past couple of weeks.

I’m currently rewriting a series and in that series, there’s a lot to keep track of: characters, objects, loose ends from the previous books… so at the end of revising one book and at the beginning of revising another, all of these different story elements come into my head at once and paralyze me. I feel like, when I start writing, I’m going to forget something important and have to start all over again from scratch. I end up staring at the computer screen, then at my notes, then at the computer screen, my heart pounding wildly with excitement, but my fingers paralyzed on the keyboard.

What usually kicks me out of my paralyzed state is one very awesome idea that I can use to start off the next story in the series. As I’m sitting in my chair, my brain churning frantically in an effort to break free from its paralysis, a good idea sometimes pops up and I write it down. From there, I can usually get everything back on track. It happened yesterday. I outlined 12 chapters in a mad, excited rush.

The point of this post is to illustrate that writer’s block and writer’s paralysis are temporary things and that yes, you can get through them, even though sometimes it seems like you’re just staring into space twiddling the pen in your hand.

13 thoughts on “Writer’s Paralysis

  1. I’d never thought about writer’s paralysis vs. writer’s block, but you’re right, they are two different things (though to some diagnosticians the symptoms often appear very similar).

    But the solution is the same, as you say. You have to work your way through and solve the problem that’s hanging things up.

    Also, I will point out that you yourself proposed one of the best solutions to this type of problem: switch to your other project for a while (https://maasmith7.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/two-is-better-than-one/). 🙂

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  2. I’ve also experienced this. I think that the best way is to just work with time and wait until an idea comes, as you say. By the way, some good posts this week. I’ve really enjoyed them!

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  3. Wonderful post, Maggie. Especially loved your conclusion:

    The point of this post is to illustrate that writer’s block and writer’s paralysis are temporary things and that yes, you can get through them, even though sometimes it seems like you’re just staring into space twiddling the pen in your hand.

    “This too shall pass.”

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  4. Great to hear such a positive take on those things! 🙂 And congratulations of getting out of it.
    My paralysis usually happens when I’m juggling several projects and have an equal amount of ideas and an equal amount of passion for each of them. – And like you I wait for one of them to come through.

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  5. I’ve not had writer’s paralysis, I don’t think. I’ve had writer’s block, but usually just because there’s a plot hole I can’t work out. My tried and true fix is writing endlessly in my diary about it. Like, pages upon pages. Eventually I work out a solution…it’s like magic.

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  6. So true Maggie, your concluding thoughts on the subject. You really have to trust in the mystery that always provides insight and the source of creativity. It is like the sun on a cloudy day… although you cannot see the sun, the light it delivers is still shinning.

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  7. writer’s block and writer’s paralysis
    so is that related to “Old Timers” (a memory loss) grinin’
    I loved the style in which you relay your thoughts
    nice write (~_~) bows humble

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