A plan for overcoming writer’s block

I’ve been struck by creativity paralysis, aka writer’s block. My plan for overcoming it is to binge read these highly recommended books.

fantasy bridge

About a week ago I was confident about my writing. I was excited about starting to write the sequel to my current WIP, and you guys convinced me it was okay to do that rather than working on my unrelated book.

Then with three hours free, I got ready to sit down for some brainstorming… and got some stressful news from work.

Fyi, I resigned from that job. I left that job several weeks ago. It should no longer be following and stressing me.

I tried to put all work thoughts aside and started brainstorming.

I came up with lots of ideas… and loathed all of them.

The following day was worse.

I tried switching back to my unrelated book. Nothing.

I self-diagnosed writer’s block or, as I prefer to call it, creativity paralysis.

Maybe it comes from having two projects and not being forced to work on just one of them. I’m not good with options.

Maybe it was the work stress (when I’m not even being paid for it any more).

Whatever the reason, I decided I needed a fix. I’m only going to be off work for so long, so I want to get as much writing done as I can during that time.

The fix? I’m going to try to fertilise my creativity by binge-reading great fiction.

Here are the books I’m looking at, some of which were suggested by Mastodon folks when I asked for books that kept them up all night.

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

I bought and read this book in the last few days.

Piranesi–though he knows this isn’t his name–lives in a strange house that is the only world he remembers. The house is made up of huge halls filled with statues, and the tides come and go through the halls.

The story is about Piranesi learning the truth about the house, the world, and himself.

The house, like the story, is oddly beautiful. Piranesi has a kind of luminous innocence that’s reassuring and uplifting even though it is super weird.

An excellent first choice.

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

I finished this book earlier today.

It came recommended by someone on Mastodon, and also by a viral tweet that said don’t try to find out anything about this book, just go out and read it.

So I did.

I like the title. Much better than your standard “A Wood of Skunks and Chainsaws” fantasy titles.

The book (novella?) is unusual. Sophisticated writing, and hints at amazing worldbuilding, but there was rarely enough description for me to picture where the story was taking place. It felt a bit like amazing thoughts in a shifting grey void.

I still recommend it, though not as strongly as the writer of the viral tweet did.

A Dragon’s Chains by Robert Vane

I found this book on my kindle. I’m not sure when or why I bought it, but it has dragons and the first few pages are quite readable–even mildly funny–so I’ll give it a go.

Dragons are the slaves of an evil king until one dragon frees its mind.

Then, as I understand, the humans are in big trouble. How much fun does that sound?

It’s book one of five. No promises I’ll read book two, but I’m open to the idea.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

This was a Mastodon recommendation. I haven’t bought it yet, but it’s next on my list. It’s also the first of a series.

Why this book? “Because it has people in a retirement home solving crimes and is the first of a series that is delightful.”

Plus I was drawn in by the voice in the first few pages.

All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

Another Mastodon recommendation. I bought it already because it was only 64 cents. Okay, it’s short, but I hear it’s good.

Specifically: “It’s soooo good! Main character is a cybernetic being who would prefer to just watch its TV programs, but the stupid humans keep getting in the way, doing stupid stuff… and Murderbot has to go and save their sorry as*#s.”

I sympathise with Murderbot. And if I enjoy the book there are a lot more to follow.

robot woman

I hope you enjoyed these recommendations of books I haven’t read yet. I take no responsibility if any of them turn out to be mediocre.

Have you read any of these books or are you tempted based on my descriptions? Any other recommendations for books I should read?

Subscribe to my blog and you might hear what I thought about these books after I read them and if they helped with my writer’s block. Maybe.

Author: A.S. Akkalon

By day, A.S. Akkalon works in an office where the computers outnumber the suits of armour more than two-to-one. By night, she puts dreams of medieval castles, swords, and dragons onto paper.

4 thoughts on “A plan for overcoming writer’s block”

  1. I like this plan – and you have picked some very different books which is great!

    I LOVED Piranesi, it really helped kick me back into a reading habit last year. It’s so effective as a mystery, just when you’re about to give up in frustration over the complete lack of context she drops in a clue to hook you back in. And it is so atmospheric, and kind of calming. As an introvert who gets overwhelmed by busy places I could see the appeal of spending some time in the House!

    I however hated This Is How You Lose The Time War lol it was like my nightmare in book format. Super cool premise executed in the worst way for somehow who generally hates overly poetic! All style and no substance, it felt like a writing flex rather than attempt to tell a story, and what plot there was so so predictable it was boring. Only good thing I had to say about it was that it was only 200 pages.

    Thursday Murder Club is a delight! Fun light reading, charming characters.

    I have looked at Murderbot many times but never bought it because the first book has always reasonably priced but if I did love it the rest of the series were far too expensive for such short eBooks! Looking it up now on Amazon they have reduced the prices to something a bit more reasonable (£7-9 rather than £15-20!) but still more than I personally want to pay for a 160 page eBook when I have so many other options!

    1. I did think about just reading fantasy books, but there’s so much interesting stuff across genres, so I decided why limit myself.

      Yes, I felt exactly the same about Piranesi. It *was* calming. I loved how Piranesi’s view of the house differed from how others felt about it.

      I totally see what you mean about This Is How You Lose the Time War. I did enjoy reading it and appreciate the lyricism of the writing, but it’s not the sort of book I could get lost in or would read again.

      Now I’m even more excited about Thursday Murder Club!

  2. As you can see from how long it has taken me to respond to your blog, I could use a calming book about now and Piranesi sounds like just the thing. But! I! Have! So! Much! To! Read! and DO! But enough about me. Your “writer’s block” makes total sense and honestly I don’t even think that’s what it is. You’ve just made a big ol’ huge life change in giving up your job (at least the paid aspect of it), and those things always, 100% of the time, take more time and energy to digest than we expect. But, y’know, do as I say and not as I do 🙂

    1. I’m flattered you still stop by when you’re so busy! And do read Piranesi when you need something calming–but it doesn’t have to be this week. It’s not going anywhere. 🙂

      You could be right about my “writer’s block”. I feel like I could make progress if I could just stop thinking about work! Deep breaths. I’ll get there. Hopefully.

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