How I Did Away With The Writer’s Block Thanks to R.A. Salvatore

I started writing my debut novel and doing the world building for it in late 2011. Well, I did mostly world building and hardly wrote much of the story. Whenever I sat down to write the actual story, I’d stare at the blank screen for hours. And hours.

In a good day, I’d scribble down a few sentences. So I quit writing it in the summer of 2012. Fast forward to year 2013, I’ve moved to Finland and once I settled in, I picked up the writing again. This time I was making some progress: 1 paragraph a day, roughly 50 words. The NaNo crowd will laugh at that but it was far better than staring at the blank screen for hours.

Then one evening, while surfing the net, I saw a post on R.A Salvatore’s Facebook page wall. He was complaining about the noise in long flights and wrote something like “I’ll put on my head phones, and go away into the Forgotten Realms, writing the chapters of the next Drizzt book during the flight.”

That set off the light bulb in my head. My problem was not being able to “go away” into the world I created. I couldn’t write at home. I had to find someplace I could “go away”. I’ve also never tried the headphones, since I thought listening to music was distracting and not good for writing. So one day after work I headed to this bar-restaurant place in the middle of downtown Helsinki with my laptop, grabbed a seat at the nice cozy couches, put on the headphones and made a medieval-instrumental playlist on my itunes library. It got quite crowded as the hours passed, and I churned out a whopping whole chapter!

The next day I did the same. I think I wrote 2000 or so words. The next day was Saturday, I called my BFF and asked for a recommendation for a seaside cafe. She recommended Johan & Nystrom cafe at Katajanokka (a small attached island-like place east of downtown Helsinki, look it up on Google Maps if you are curious) and 6 hours, a triple latte & a few teas later, I walked out with 6000 words more. Now I am at 33k words and counting, in just over 4 months! With a full time job and language classes, I can’t do the NaNo sort of thing, but I made more progress in the last 4 months than the entire 3 years.

So, the secret is to find the correct environment where you can “go away”, for me it was crowded cafe-bar places with cozy couches and very low music volume. The place can’t have loud music, I should be able to listen to my medieval-instrumental inspiration playlists with my headphones without having to max out the volume. Also, the more crowded, the better. I ignore everyone and type away. If I have trouble coming up with background character descriptions (like inn and tavern scenes) I just look around and describe the random people sitting around me, it’s kind of fun.

I’ve come to believe there is no such thing as writer’s block. I think people are confusing the wrong environment for writing with writer’s block. I am a crowds person, I find my energy in the aura of the crowds around, so I can’t write when I’m at home alone. It took a while but I found the best environment I can write and I’m writing like no tomorrow, it’s like magic. I suppose I could write during flights like R.A. Salvatore, but I’m broke so I rarely ever fly anywhere, and if I do, it’s the cheapest deal available and usually at ridiculous hours like 6 am, so I end up sleeping during the whole flight.

But anyway, the moral of the story is, you need to experiment and find your perfect environment for writing. Maybe it’s supposed to be quiet and you have too much noise. Maybe you just need to be outside home, on a park bench, or a coffee shop. Once you discover your writing place where you can truly “go away”, the pages will pour out like a waterfall.

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7 thoughts on “How I Did Away With The Writer’s Block Thanks to R.A. Salvatore

  1. I really like this post! I am writing a novel as well and have been plagued with writer’s block. Maybe I just need to find a good environment!

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    • It takes some trial and error but once you find the environment where you can unleash your mind, you will write half of the novel before you even know it!

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  2. Leona I wish you the best with your new novel. Know that every established writer once had to crack that first nut which is the debut book. Thanks for following my blog, I’ll be checking yours out too.

    Your friend,

    T.A. Uner

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t really believe in writer’s block. I used to, many years ago, but I have long since realized that if I can’t write, it’s because I’m either distracted by something else in my brain or life or I’m sick. The first is easy to deal with – I just write out a list of things on my brain and then start working through them until I fix it. Then, I find I can write easily. If I’m sick, I just stick to reading until I feel better. Writing while I’m sick just doesn’t work well for me.

    It’s hard for me to write without headphones. I’m NOT a crowd person – I like space and silence to write (but I can write without it), but if I don’t have headphones or have something else to drown out the background noise, I tend not to focus well. I can still churn out the words (I’m one of those NaNo people who can just sit down at pound out 1700 words a day, but when I do it that way, those words tend to suck).

    I’m glad you found your formula to make it easier for you!

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    • I can’t do 2000 words everyday, if I do I will have to spend more time editing it than actually writing it. It requires hell of a lot less editing/fixing work if I do whatever I am able to do (500 words, 1000 words, etc)

      Coffeeshops and pubs with comfy couches do the trick for me. I can write like no tomorrow at public places. Also it makes it easier to describe people in crowded scenes like inns and army camps, I just look around and describe the random people I see.

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    • I’ve long since learned that if I edit as I go, I’ll end up bogged down in trying to make it perfect instead of just writing the story. I do much better when I edit after I’m done. I just try to get the story down on the page, first. But writing is awesome in that there is no one technique or one way of doing things. If you’re making progress and are feeling good about what you’re writing and how fast you’re writing it, then I’d say keep going with it!

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