Not So Much Writer’s Block More Writer’s Freeze

writers freeze chemistrydotabout

ANYONE ELSE GET THIS? Maybe this terror of going over a word limit began at university with 2000 word limits on essays. I get the freeze when I’m writing a short story. Maybe freeze isn’t a great word for it but I’ll explain. Sometimes I will be writing a piece and I’m so conscious of word count that I end up writing lazy sentences, freezing up; instead of describing the world and filling in those all important details that bring a story to life, I’ll write stubby sentences, providing a skeleton but little else as a result of being way too mindful of the number of words. It’s some form of mental block.

And if I plan to write for a WordPress post, I’m always trying to keep it snappy, under about 5-600 words, and the freeze begins again. I’m so habituated to strive for 500 words online I struggle to flesh some stories out and metaphorically end up trying to shove a whole cow through a meat grinder. Obviously creating a vibrant story world is essential and uses up creative energy but I’m curious if anyone else gets the freeze?

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lion around 2

33 Comments

  1. I’m not much interested in word count. I mean, it’s OK if you’re writing for a competition with rules, but why else would you bother? It’s the content that counts.
    [That said, my brain freezes up regularly.]

      1. Yes, I think that’s a serious issue, Fionn. The whole point about blogging is surely that it’s about lots of people sharing what they like (or dislike). And sharing means reading AND writing. Like you, I always try to be reasonable, but it’s best not to obsess about numbers. Rather relax. If it FEELS too long, edit bits out. It’s a learning process, isn’t it?

      2. Yeah you are not wrong, I dont get too stuck on numbers and some longer stories I use for submitting to publishers, so it all works out.
        As for being a learning process – without a doubt!

  2. A lot of times, people don’t even read the short posts…I gathered that from one comment here, unless the person was joking, which I doubt. πŸ™‚ If the subject interests me, I read regardless of length. And there are people who throw out just a few words, maybe one quote, and call it a post. And on top of that, there are people who post 5 or 6 times a day; who can keep up with that? All in the name of getting as many followers as possible. Since the number of followers I have doesn’t interest me, I don’t worry overmuch on length. I am on WordPress to connect with other writers, and to read posts written by good writers–like you, Lion. To me, it isn’t a popularity contest.

    1. Yeah that one sticks in my mind too. Im tempted to make a generic post and say something horrific at the very end, just to see who is actually reading. Getting a like doesnt mean anything, its too easy to appear to have read something.

      Im trying to build followership, but not aimlessly. Ultimately you or I could have 10000, but if only a 100 are interested in stories, then its fairly pointless and ends up like twitter, having followers for the sake of it.
      Thanks for your insights. πŸ™‚

      1. And thanks for addressing an issue that keeps a lot of people from enjoying reading, no attention span.
        And I would love seeing you do a post like you mentioned. It sounds like an interesting experiment. I would imaging the results would be enlightening. πŸ˜€

  3. That’s me alright – because i so rarely read anything that takes longer than five minutes, I judge my readers as the same!
    That’s why I divvy up my posts and everything is under one thousand words.

  4. I can understand where you’re coming from (so to speak), i strive to keep my posts short as well. It’s a “TLDR” culture and I don’t see the point of publicly posting something I know most people wouldn’t read. I’ve never strived for a word limit as such, and I hope it doesn’t get stuck in my head too! πŸ˜€
    But I know the feeling of the passage getting out of my hand and writing itself into an essay…..

  5. I get anxious at about halfway through the allotted word count & realise I’ve got to swiftly manoeuvre towards the conclusion. But I prefer to have a slower 1st half anyway, so I’ve not had the yips yet, but then again I haven’t written as much as you!

  6. Exactly my thoughts when I begin a story, but I never am unable to keep it so short. I kind of ignore that bugging feelings of limiting words, else I just can’t write what I want to! Now how do I tackle this!??

      1. Guess there is just no fixed rule or method.
        From what you’ve seen in my work, I’d really love to have a feedback, if it isn’t a problem for you. πŸ™‚

  7. Absolutely! Either writer’s freeze or writer’s bloat. That’s when you think your manuscript is too word-light so you start throwing in as much bloat as possible to make a word count target. Both are bad.

    I think there’s always something one can cut from a story, but it results in so much tinkering that the project never gets finished. At least it’s that way for me. I’ll worry over something too much.

    1. If a story is finished, and then needs major tinkering, unless it’s particularly good, I’ll usually discard it, ocassionally I’ll come back to it, but I find it’s too time consuming and a mental drain.
      Cheers for stopping by.

  8. This happens to me as well. I understand how hard it is to keep up with blogs. I try to keep my posts under 400 words, and I push hard for 350.
    I tend to use less description on my posts than I normally would to meet this self imposed limit. I’d rather be brief and get constructive comments than too long and have a one hundred usless likes with no real feedback. (And I see this happen on dozens of blogs). So, yeah, I worry over word count.

    1. Yeah I’m with you on that.
      I quickly realised anything much over 500 words was likely to get zero comments. People don’t tend to read longer stuff.
      It’s a real challenge to keep the words trimmed but still tell a compelling story. Keeps it interesting I guess πŸ™‚

      1. Exactly. When I come across long posts on other blogs I see generic comments “can’t wait to read more” “great chapter” “Interesting.” Those posts lack comments that demonstrate the person actually read it. I see your posts and I know on mine, people leave real comments about the situation, a quote, character, or the plot. Short & sweet is the only way to blog. Good description, rich characters and plots are for our novels, magazine submissions, and sample chapters for literary agents. Great post. I thought I was the only one worried about word count.

      2. Good description, rich characters and plots are for our novels, magazine submissions, and sample chapters for literary agents < that sums it up. Story,story,story! πŸ™‚

  9. I’m so glad to know someone else understands the “freeze” Fionn. Probably anyone who submits things with a word count limit understands. Even query letters and book proposals have limits, and I feel the freeze as soon as it says “absolutely no more than one page.” Immediately, I begin doing the math: 12 point, double space, name/address + all info at top…What??? One page? You’re giving me about 100-150 words. Then, feel sick, swear, who needs them? WordPress is a good place to practice. I need to practice more! πŸ˜€

    1. It’s a wierd thing!
      Uusually writers complain of not being able to write enough. And redudantly, when I start a story, there’s never a word limit, yet I still get the ‘yips’.
      Thanks for stopping by.

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