IWSG 72: Breaking Through


This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.



Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?


Feather Stone | Beverly Stowe McClure | Mary Aalgaard | Kim Lajevardi | and Chemist Ken

There is always a moment when the words stop and I can almost see them beyond a glass barrier trying to break through.

I’m sure you know the moment. It’s when the movie your recording pauses, or when the scene ends and a new one begins, or when you have to go somewhere you’ve never been before.

The last one is the hardest for me.

To get to where I must go, I close my eyes and see the glass barrier. Then I imagine a hammer—mine’s small and silver—and I tap the barrier softly. It cracks. Slowly the cracks grow and the shards fall away.

Usually it’s slow going and I have to repeat the process. Knocking down that invisible wall. It’s what I did during my first year winning Nano. The words weren’t coming. I needed to make my word count, so I broke my barrier.

And again when I wrote my first murder scene. Some might say it wasn’t real. The not so funny thing was it seemed pretty real to me and horrific.

I still do my ritual when I have to write something that I find hard to face, t00 real, or beyond my usual realm.

What about you. Is there a place you hate going but write about it anyway? How do you mange it?

70 responses to “IWSG 72: Breaking Through

  1. I never thought about visualizing the barrier and breaking it – thanks.

  2. I like the visual. I think for me it’s relaxing my brain enough to let the words unfold. I get overly excited and then my head goes blank. I have to read something I love, in a similiar perspective. Somehow, my mind frees up and my own thoughts come then.

  3. Such a great image, Anna. Very powerful.

  4. Natalie Aguirre

    That’s a great way to break the barrier. I usually try to outline the next chapter when I get stuck because my first draft usually has a lot of those moments.

  5. Hi,
    Good for you! You have found a way to break the barrier so you can create. That is what counts.
    All the best.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  6. That is such a fantastic idea to visualize breaking through the barrier! I’ll have to try that out. Love it!

  7. I really like the thinking of breaking the glass wall! I think I’ll try something similar to keep things moving in my head :). Thanks for a great post!

  8. When the words won’t come then I know I took a wrong turn earlier. I trace back my steps and with a bit of searching, I find where I went askew — then the words flow again. Best of writing in these times!

  9. When I hit the barrier, it’s as black as obsidian to me. I can’t see any words past it, and as far as I know at the time, there are no words on the other side. So I find the barrier pretty bleak.
    I always write about fun stuff, no I never venture into areas I hate going into. Glad you found your breaking the barrier trick.

  10. I understand exactly what you mean. It’s surreal and frightening, but such a relief when you get through it. I used to have a reoccurring nightmare of one grandson being stuck under the ice. When I told my friend, she advised me to have an axe at my side so I could break through the ice and save him. Sure enough, that night I dreamt it again, only this time the outcome was totally different. The best part, I never had that nightmare again. In fact, if I do have a reoccurring dream that unsettles me, I remember I have the power to change anything and I fix the problem.

  11. Closing your eyes and “seeing” the scene is a great way to get that writing down. I often close my eyes while typing. I did learn (the hard way) to be sure my fingers were on the right keys before I start. 🙂

  12. Great imagery. I don’t have a plan as such to break the barrier. It could be anything and a lot of things combined too.

  13. That’s a fantastic way to get your brain in action – I’m going to borrow that one!

  14. I like your idea of a hammer and a glass wall. I must find my own hammer quickly, although I doubt mine is silver. Probably a big, clunky stainless steel thing, but it should take care of any glass walls. Hopefully.

  15. mlouisebarbourfundyblue

    Awesome, Anna! What a great visual you use to help you! I was just on Rachna’s site and saw your comment about writing something for this year’s IWSG contest. You go for it!!! I did for the last one ~ and no one could be more surprised than I to have my story selected. I’m rooting for you!

  16. I’ve written quite a number of graphic murder scenes with no trouble. Not sure what that says about me. One area I won’t tread deeply is child abuse. I have a character in my WIP who is a victim, but I only show the mental in the the present. The physical is in the past, and it is only mentioned in passing. And believe me, that little girl is getting her justice.

    • All the bad stuff that happens in the world is out there and far, far away from my everyday life. I don’t realize how much it’s touched me until I write about it. Then it becomes all too real.

      I understand why you stay in the present with your abuse victim. Glad to hear she gets justice.

  17. Cool image of breaking through the barrier!

  18. I like your visualization cue. I’ll have to give it a go when I hesitate to move forward into a place I may not want to go.

  19. Damyanti Biswas

    Your idea sounds great… I just might borrow it too.

  20. I really like your visualization trick. I’ll try it next time next time I’m drawing a blank.

  21. Wow, it’s funny you mention this. If you head over to my blog, I’ve actually started a blog series called Voices in My Head where I’m going to be tackling just these kinds of things – things I don’t usually talk about. So this really spoke to me. I’m going to be posting one a day every weekday. The first one literally just went up this morning. I was SO nervous about talking – basically – about mental illness and being different. It’s like the one thing I don’t talk about – until now! This feels like confirmation I’m doing the right thing, so thanks.

  22. My critique partners often call me out on this one–on pulling back and emotionally distancing from the storytelling if it’s going to get painful. It’s hard to be “mean” to my imaginary friends sometimes, even if that’s what the story needs. @samanthabwriter from
    Balancing Act

  23. Wow, that’s so inventive and creative, Anna, I really admire your ritual! As others in the chat have said, I might try it if I need it in future. 🙂

  24. I love the visualization you do.

  25. Victoria Marie Lees

    Unfortunately, for me sometimes the wall is made of concrete and I can’t see my way through. That’s when I go for a walk and tell myself to forget about it. I usually don’t forget about it as I walk. But I do try to notice what’s around me as I’m thinking my way through. I would think writing murder mystery would be scary, Anna. All best to you.

  26. Thanks bunches for stopping by my blog.
    I love the imagery of this post.
    It’s difficult to re-live sad moments, but sometimes I have to if it’s needed for a scene in a story.

  27. HI Anna,

    My barriers are more lucid. I can’t use force to break through them. I almost have to push the veil aside and watch it billow away. My second novel was a subject matter which I found very difficult to write about. A psychotic and drunken father’s abuse of his teenage son. Every time I had to edit it, I would hyperventilate a bit and become very stressed. It was a story I had to tell. I haven’t written about any time of abuse since, but who know what the future will bring.

  28. Suzanne Furness

    Visualising seems like a great idea. So glad you could break through the barrier. Best wishes

  29. Diane Burton

    The invisible wall aptly describes what I’m going through. Love the idea of breaking it with a hammer. That’s something I can use. Thanks, Anna. Stay safe.

  30. Your ritual sounds like a good one and proves, yet again, that you have a wonderful imagination. Enough so to produce stories and to make the ritual work for you. That’s so great!

    No rituals for me. I sometimes get sick of writing my diary every day (been doing that for 25+ years) – it becomes exhausting – but can’t not do it. So, those evenings, I just put a heading in and postpone the actual writing/journaling to the next day or the next day…

  31. What a wonderful imagery to power through. I’m jealous… I haven’t finished a NaNo yet!

  32. I’m writing a memoir at the moment, my first one, and it’s tough to look at the emotional baggage that you carry around related to the events that have shaped your behaviour and reactions. So when I’m faced with writing difficult things, I set a timer for 20 minutes and then do fast writing, so that my conscious mind can’t think about what I’m writing and I can tap into that creative well for core emotions.

  33. That’s a great tip. We’ll get there if we keep tapping away.

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