NaNoWriMo 2018 Bonus Episode, with Mercedes Lackey

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard, with special guest Mercedes Lackey

NaNoWriMo 2018 is half-way over today. Are you stuck? Do you need to get unstuck? Mercedes Lackey joined us at GenCon Indy back in 2017 to talk about writer’s block, and how it’s very likely a symptom of something else. In this episode we discuss the interpretation of those symptoms, and how we go about solving the root problems.


Write a lovers’ quarrel where the fight they’re having is happening because they think they need to have a fight.

5 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo 2018 Bonus Episode, with Mercedes Lackey”

  1. “…they have started writing, they have realised they are not as good a writer as they want to be, and what is coming out on the page doesn’t match this perfect vision of this ideal etc etc, and they get really discouraged, etc etc”

    wow, im feeling personally attacked right now? but yeah nah, that hits way too close to home. i really need to just silence my internal critic and just keep writing instead of agonising over the first damn paragraph.

    1. If it makes you feel any better, I feel this all the time. I’m not as good a writer as I want to be, in part because I need more practice, and in part because I want to be a writer who can bang out gloriously beautiful, plot-perfect prose at 80 words per minute.

      I’m getting by just fine because I recognize that thing I want is not realistic.

      1. It’s quite anxiety-relieving to see someone I respect as a writer, and whose work I enjoy, say that.

  2. Appreciate the NaNo fuel episodes, they’ve been great.

    I do like the description that writer’s block represents a problem rather than is a problem in itself. Might be all that work you need to go through in your story next, whether because you need to go back and fix something, or because the coming part is just the least exciting part of the story for you. Or because you’re scared. Or need to do more research and you’re not feeling like reading outside your interests.

    But yes, also it can represent other problems. Mental health issues like depression and ADHD, and physical health issues that affect your cognition and memory. I’ve had times when I’ve been blocked simply because I no longer remembered the story, and couldn’t concentrate on it, so I just sat down and was lost every single time. Vague memory what the story was about, vague memory what the scene was about, but nothing about where it began and where it was going. You can only bridge so much of what’s missing with working notes or outlines when they feel like they might as well be someone else’s.

    Also, addictions. You can be blocked because your brain craves the easy feedback loops, be they from drugs, games or alcohol. I don’t think the “screw off” writer’s block type covers that to its full extent, or perhaps it’s more of a separate category.

    I can tell you, as someone with autism and multiple sclerosis, nearly all of these things have blocked me, and then some. Sometimes for several years at a time. Rarely did I recognize what the block was actually composed of, until the story had been left on the wayside or I’d brute forced through it, doing more harm to the work than I needed to.

    I am a little stuck in my current project, but also doing better than I expected, one day behind schedule for NaNo. Shall see where it goes.

    Keep up the great work, guys

  3. At GenCon, the fearsome foursome, Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard, sat down with Mercedes Lackey to talk about writer’s block. There are plenty of different problems hiding under that label, and they look at what the problems are, and suggest quite a few ways to work around, over, and with the issues. Diagnosis, treatment, scraps folders, two guys with guns blazing, flashing cursors, and a notepad… even the humble timer gets mentioned. So go read about it in the transcript now available in the archive and over here

    Then write!

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