Thoughts on Writer’s Block | Bryan Young

About the Author (in his words)

I started my career as a storyteller in film and have co-directed (with Elias Pate) numerous shorts and two feature-length films.  Between us and on my own, I’ve been involved in writing almost 20 feature length screenplays.  I got into writing, assistant-direction, and producing of documentary films with This Divided State and carried on with twice as much responsibility on Killer at Large.  Both films won numerous awards and are currently available on DVD across the world from The Disinformation Company and are available on Netflix.

Since 2006, I’ve been a contributor to The Huffington Post where I’ve been writing about politics, comic books, and the intersections of the two.  In 2009, Lucas Ackley and I founded the geek news and review site Big Shiny Robot! where I am Editor-in-Chief.  I’ve also written close to 1700 articles for the site, and my primary beat is covering Star Wars. Now, I’m pleased to report that I’m doing a series on film and Star Wars for the official Star Wars website.

As far as my career as a prose writer, I published my first short story as a junior in high school in 1997. It was a science fiction short called “The Assassination of Hitler” and has since been (gratefully) lost to the sands of time.  I continued writing prose, though not for publication until 2005, when I began this site originally. In October of 2010, I published my first novella called The Colossus.  I was invited by Mike Stackpole to write it as part of his Chain Story Project.  My first novel, Lost at the Con, came out in June 2011.  It was released alongside a collection of short fiction stories I wrote called Man Against the Future. Since then, I’ve released a sci-fi adventure novel called Operation: Montauk, and have 3 more novels in various stages of revision and publication.

You can check out  more of Bryan on his website.

Bryan’s thoughts on writer’s block

To get past writer’s block, I do a few things.

I’ll grant myself a day off. Sometimes, it’s just my brain that needs to chew through things and if I obsess in front of a computer, my notebook, or my typewriter, all I’m doing is stressing out and not fixing the problem. If I allow myself the time off for a day, I can usually get back on track the next day fresh.

Under no circumstance do I extend that beyond a day. If that doesn’t work, I do other things.

I’ll work on something else. Perhaps a short story, a screenplay, a different novel, anything that will exercise a different part of my brain.

Or, I’ll start asking myself questions in my notebook. I’ll literally write down, “What is the hold up here?” Then the next line will start, “Well, I can’t move forward.” “Why?” “Because nothing interesting is going on.” “How can you spice it up?” and so on. Conversations with myself might seem crazy, but they’re a life saver. Sometimes I’ll even write conversations between myself and the characters.

And the other thing I do is take a break and go to material that inspires me. Behind the scenes documentaries on movies do that for me. Books about writing and making films. Robert McKee’s story. Casablanca. Gone With the Wind. The Third Man. Kurt Vonnegut. Ernest Hemingway. History books. The list goes on and on. Find something to recharge your batteries.

It’s also important to set realistic goals. I’ve sat down with the intention of doing 5,000 words, written 2,000 and given myself permission to call it a day and recharge.


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