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A Character's Writer's Block?

A Character's Writer's Block?

I get by the times I have writer’s block by pretending I don’t and doing other things like revising and editing like mad.

But I have a character in one of my stories now, who is an award-winning author. Since I can’t get the story to close the right way, I thought I will free-write as her. In character, so to speak. And boy, SHE has a writer’s block, because this is what came out:

Most times, all I need is a blank bit of space. Sometimes, I’m hunting for one, because I think I’ve got the mother of all ideas and I just have to pen it down before it floats away.

Now is not one of those times. This is just the opposite, when I have to pin my butt down to the chair. When I have to shove a dictionary into my nose, in search of a word that would inspire me to piddle out a few words. One of those times I am praying for my faith in the practice of showing up on the page.

Not wanting to face what has happened to you, to block out the images that will not be denied gives you a writing hole the size of Grand Canyon. You step into one of those and it is a long way to the bottom. I’m crashing into the darkness just about now, the winds of turmoil speeding through my being, the blackness of grief like layers of fabric all ripping through, one by painful one, till I’m suddenly afraid this is all I will have, this falling in the dark, in endless folds of ripping fabric, till I reach a vacuum, maybe hit outer space when I emerge from the other end of the earth, and remain suspended in that nameless, ageless, nothingness. Maybe I merge and become a part of non-air, non-life, a piece of nothing.

This is a little scary, because the story is in her voice. If she is so blocked, one needs to find out why….or I won’t get anywhere with that one. I’m in fine fettle with my writing otherwise, did a 1000 words yesterday. Interesting how a character in my story can be blocked without me feeling it all. Or maybe it is me who is blocked and pretending away I’m not? The character came from my head after all, (admittedly at a workshop two months ago.)


Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • I stumbled upon your blog and I believe I can help eliminate Writer’s Block!

    Writer’s block is when our conscious mind – that critical and analytical part of our brain – gets in the way of our subconscious mind – the creative and free-flowing part of our brain that speaks in images and symbols. After all, the subconscious is where our stories are birthed.

    I have step-by-step instruction on how to unlock the subconscious on my blog and eliminate writer’s block. I hope it helps for anyone who runs into writer’s block.

    Happy writing, everyone!!

    That’s my two pence…
    Arial 😉

  • That is a wonderful organisation.
    Don’t donate until you receive the book. I suggest you just donate the postage. I have a few spare books doing nothing.
    Unless you have a different one in mind I’ll send Awakening Love. It is the first of a series of three (although the way is open for another book).
    Thank you. I await an address to send it to you.

  • damyantig says:

    Sure, Gladys. Will mail you my address. And if you let me know the price of the book, I will make a donation to the organisation I support:
    It is an interesting and very genuine org, you might like to check it out.

  • No problem. I’ve sent books further. It is a pleasure to me if someone actually wants to read my work. It is good to know my stories are read in a number of countries. Sometimes a small donation is given to a charity but there is no pressure and I don’t wish to know the value.

  • If you would like a complimentary of any of my novels I would be pleased to send you one.

    • damyantig says:

      Thanks Gladys! I’d be thrilled to have them, but I’m afraid it would cost too much in postage…I live in Malaysia 🙁

      I’m really touched by your offer, though.

  • damyantig says:

    That is the thing about blogs…we’re complete strangers otherwise, but are talking about things that are important to us.

    I haven’t read any of your work (would love to), nor do I know you personally, but I am convinced of two things:

    A short story is in no way inferior to a novel. A well-written short story can be as challenging to write and have as much to say as a novel. So if you’re writing short stories, that shows you DON’T “lack the fuel to get going again.”

    Secondly, I know it is realistic to know one’s shortcomings, but if every person in the world concentrated only on their shortcomings, a lot of things wouldn’t get done. It is terribly hard to do, but being absolutely positive helps in its own way.

    Sending you good vibes and energy….and you’re never ” taking up space.” We’re having a conversation.

    Hope you’re on a roll real soon.

  • ‘Look around you’?
    It is a good suggestion but I have already done that, Damyantig. An anthology of stories with local settings. (Still Waters Run Deep, stories of hidden depths.) That was eighteen months ago. And an earlier book I did with eight other authors (Northern Lights). I am not short of ideas, especially for short stories, just the will to get cracking on a new novel. Nothing powerful enough to motivate me. My last book was just a new extended edition of my first book, ‘When Phones Were Immobile and Lived in Red Boxes’ — an illustrated book of childhood memories. I guess that sort of tells me I have run out of steam. Does this old boiler lack the fuel to get going again? More likely, the pistons are worn out and beyond repair. A complete overhaul needed but, at present, not worth the effort.
    This is not a ‘black hole’ situation. I know about those. But I am taking up too much of your space — sorry about that. Thank you for caring.

  • damyantig says:

    My word, Gladys.

    You leave me speechless. That is probably the most heartfelt, not to say the longest, comment I have ever had in my years of blogging.


    As I said to you in my mail, I have a friend who is much older than you, still writing away, and joining workshops, so over the hill you are not.

    You have lots more to give, maybe you need a sudden push from some direction. You’re an intuitive writer, and one of the drawbacks of being intuitive is having to wait.

    I do not write everyday, not a particular number of words anyway, but I try. It is good practice for a fledgling writer. You have five novels behind you, and I haven’t published five short stories yet. I too write when the writing takes me over, and stop when I have nearly run out of steam, but not quite…

    Apologise for being too forward, but you can’t have run out of stories, it is like a Marlin running out of water in the ocean. You just have to look around you.

  • damyantig says:

    Horror writer? Darc!!!

  • Above comment —
    should read:
    emotions of my characters (not motions)

  • Interesting.
    I do not write like most authors who spend an allotted time or write a specific word count each day. I would find that impossible. I have to go with the flow, my characters taking the lead. Sometimes there is an intense urgency that cannot be denied. When I started my first novel I would be up at three in the morning and would be writing until my husband and son came down for breakfast. While doing chores the story would be moving on and I would be jotting down notes and be desperate to get back to the computer. At bedtime, ideas would suddenly come and, to the annoyance of my hubby, I would get out of bed and write them down otherwise I would not sleep. Apart from essentials nothing else was allowed to intrude on my writing. Although, a little time in the garden or a walk in the fresh air helped give thoughts clarity. After about three months and the first draft completed I could relax and work through again. And the process goes on as suggestions from an editor or appraiser is taken into account. As far as the rest of the household is concerned, my obsessive habit is not intrusive with short stories but even then I prefer to go on and on until a ‘natural break’ occurs rather than have one imposed on me .
    I experience all the motions of my characters, sometimes tears flowing down my cheeks. No doubt other writers are the same.
    But a writer’s block? Perhaps that is what I am suffering now. Ideas and ‘starts’ for short stories are filed but I have neither urge nor incentive to complete them. I have written five novels but they were completed a few years ago. The last one will shortly be published. Other works completed and also published. Somehow there seems no point in writing further novels. I look at an amarylis I have flowering on my window sill. The lovely flowers, which have taken so long to grow are now in full bloom. But the bulb feels soft and depleted. That’s me — ‘over the hill’ and nothing more to give.
    Writer’s block? Or just weary with the whole business of great highs with reviews and readers’ opinions, and deep lows resulting from rejections and disappointments?
    I realise I have been addicted to writing and could not stop. I guess I still am but channel it into my blogs — all harmless stuff that does not go through a mill of editors, submissions and rejections. Nothing to hurt or bruise my ego.
    There is too much of myself — my life’s experiences — as well as a colourful imagination in my novels. Payton L Inkletter sussed that out when he did a review of my DESIRE. (Phools Paradise, Reviews section).
    I guess I have not added much to the notion of Writer’s Block. For me, maybe it is the chasm in your story but nothing I’m dropping into — just a bland place like that squashy bulb. Possibilities of recovery maybe, but do I want the endless giving of myself and the pain — physical and emotional — that would come with it? And yet those glorious blooms beckon.
    And why do tears run down my cheeks as I write this?

  • DarcKnyt says:

    That’s pretty impressive writer’s block. I thought I had it bad — and I did — but that one’s bordering on scary.

    Who says you’re not a horror writer? 😉

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