S is for Stove Up



Stove up (from the on-line slang dictionary) - sore, wore out, to have pain or soreness on such a level that one is unable to get up or move from. Condition in which the body feels very sore, stiff, and unmovable.

I currently live in Arkansas and spent the majority of my life in the south, so I’m pretty familiar with this term. The thing is, even though I know what it means and I’ve heard it used plenty of times, I still can only think of one thing when I hear it…constipation. And being that I’m a writer, and I’m writing about writer stuff, can you guess where this metaphor is trying to lead you?

That’s right…writer’s block!

When it comes to my writing, I’ve never had the displeasure of being stove up. However, I have talked to plenty of writers who have experienced the phenomenon and apparently the problem is very common. I should also point out that there is a distinction between being stove up, or blocked, and simply hesitating for a long time before tacking a particularly difficult section of the WIP. I have done that, waiting weeks before I work up the courage to write my way through a scene I find especially challenging. But being truly blocked means the creative juices have run dry and the author cannot see a way to get them flowing again.

I’ve never experienced this so I’m not going to lecture you on how to get things jump-started again, a topic I know very little about. What I can do is tell you what steps I take that help me avoid this trap.

I hate to harp on this, but by outlining pretty much eliminates the chance for becoming blocked. I say pretty much because there have been times where a piece of my outline has been extremely vague and I’ve struggled to imagine how I’ll fill it out. In these rare cases, I will go ahead and write something I consider sub-par just to reach the next section on my outline and then circle back around to it later. This allows my forward progress to go uninterrupted and me more time to think about the stubborn scene.

Odds are I’ll get stove up someday, and when that happens I’ll go in search of a creative laxative! :)

Did you know I was holding a contest during the A-Z Challenge? You can read all about it HERE.

48 comments

  1. And the photo totally says it, stove up. Another subject well written.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have never heard nor used that slang before. I'm think I need to start. So is past tense of it stoved up? Hmmm...

    ReplyDelete
  3. DL, I agree. With a proper evolving outline and I add a in depth character study, it helps eliminate writer's block and writing yourself in a corner that you can't get out of.

    As far as "stove up," living in GA for half of my life, I've heard it used in reference to anything blocked like your sinuses with a cold and constipation. I believe it started as a blocked stove pipe and then took on other meanings as a comparison.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I've never been blocked. I think that's because my writing always has to take back seat to life. When kids are sick (like now) and hubby is on a business trip (yep) and there is lots going on I don't find time to write. So I never really get a chance to overuse or wear out my creative juices. Right now I'm going on two weeks without writing more than a few words. I hate it, yet I've got so much paperwork to do there's not much I can do about it.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I never heard that phrase either. I'm like Sara. I have to write when I can. So maybe that's why I don't get writers block.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I've heard it say there's no such thing as writer's block, just lazy writers. I don't agree, although the person who told me was a VERY opinionated person on many subjects. Yes, there are days where the words just flow...and days where each word is a struggle. Days when you can't wait to sit down and write, and days when it's the last thing you want to do. Another friend said it best though: just write. It's the only way out of a stove-up (LOVE THE TERM) situation. What you write might be crap, or as DL so nicely puts is, sub-par, but at least you're going through the motions, using those muscles. The first guy I referred to also said 90% of what writers write is crap anyway, so just keep writing. Writing is really editing. Not sure how I feel about that...

    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
    @TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh, I hope I never have to deal with writer's block. But I wonder if I write even if I'm blocked - even if it's not my WIP - if that would get things going again.

    I read a great post yesterday about being blocked, you might find it interesting: http://thewritepractice.com/never-have-writers-block-again/

    ReplyDelete
  8. I just can't do the outline thing. Ideas I write down so I don't forget them, cause I forget everything these days, but I can't do a whole book.

    I do get blocked but it's usually cause I have too many things going on and I need to focus.

    Happy Monday!

    Heather

    ReplyDelete
  9. I've never heard of this term. But I live as far from the south as you can get. Okay, maybe not that far, but close enough.

    I don't really have problems with writer's block. Usually going for a run helps me when I get stuck. And I suppose writing every day does too. It keeps the creative juices flowing.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Ha! We use that expression here in Maine, too...well, I don't unless I'm joking around but I have heard it used, as in, "He's all stove up." Usually it means broken in some fashion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's just what I was going to say! We have a totally different meaning here! Boats can get stove up on the rocks.

      Delete
  11. Never heard of the term, but I get extremely painful shoulders and sore arm muscles which need 6 monthly shots and excercise. So I presume I get stove up.

    Yvonne.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I've never experienced writer's block either, other than the kind where you're unsure how to move forward with the story. When that happens, I do something else creative: color, draw, read, do a couple writing prompts. It always break down the walls when I engage my creativity elsewhere for a bit.

    Happy A to Z-ing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

    ReplyDelete
  13. I'm stove up all the time. I usually get out to do some yard work and that unblocks me. However, these last few weeks I've got nothing. We'll see what happens when real life finally lets go.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for that descriptive 'StoveUp' analogy. It's good to know the in's and out's of this malady, and that your 'Outline Theory' can be relied on to keep the flow going. Here's how this GRIT (Girl Raised In Texas) deals with blockage...StokeTheStove and GetErDone!

    My Letter 'S'...Our Middle Name Is Sue
    Sue CollectInTexasGal
    AtoZ LoneStar Quilting Bee

    ReplyDelete
  15. My secret is to always have a couple projects going at once, so if one is dry, I just work on the other one.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I've never heard the term stove up before, but then again, I've rarely traveled South (I'm from Montana originally and I've never been to Arkansas either). I've also never really truly been blocked, though I have waited before tackling a hard section, like I'm doing now ... sigh. Back to work!

    ReplyDelete
  17. OMG, I have that condition! My baaaaack.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Along with several other people who commented, I've never heard of that term, even though we lived in FL for some time. I do end up with writer's block now and then, but ideas pop up eventually. I usually take a little break and that gives the ideas time to sneak into my head.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I don't really believe in Stove Up (writer's block) but I know what makes me stop writing: when I'm so stressed I can't focus on my WIP and when I'm not happy with where my story is going. Once I've got a path for my story to go, I'm on my way!

    ReplyDelete
  20. I've heard the term stoved up (past tense) but not stove up. I can't say I've had a true case writer's block either, more like I didn't feel like writing. I've gone weeks, months, even years without writing anything of significance and then will be very prolific. This is my MO. But you're right/write about an outline, it really helps. I never used to use them, but now I do. Though they aren't detailed they give me a clear road map and help me over the rocky patches in the road.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Great expression for writer's block and the image goes a long way to making the feeling perfectly clear!

    ReplyDelete
  22. LOL! Perfect comparison!!!

    Congrats on the A-Z stuff, Don. You're so awesome!

    :D

    ReplyDelete
  23. That's why I work so long on an outline. I've never experienced it either.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Never heard that expression before!
    I think I've experienced writer's block, can't say for sure if it was just lazyness, but when I do and I know its nothing but fear holding me back... I drink some wine and then I'm alright lol

    ReplyDelete
  25. I grew up in the south, but I have never heard that before.

    ReplyDelete
  26. This is why I like writing about several subjects during the same period of time. When I get writer's block on one subject I just move on to the next.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I learn something new everyday by blog hopping. Never heard of Stove-up and I've been stoved up for a week now.

    ReplyDelete
  28. There have been times when I've felt blocked or written very slowly, even knowing the course the story is supposed to take. Sometimes it's more about not being in the right place to write at that particular time, like you're going through a challenging time in your life, or you didn't give yourself enough time in between books to recover from the experience of writing the previous one.

    ReplyDelete
  29. ...and that facial expression is perfect! I also love the term creative laxative...

    Writer In Transit

    ReplyDelete
  30. I've never heard of that phrase, but I'll have to ask my husband. Such a cute pic! There's been times where I've felt like I'm blocked, but all I need to do is take a step back, do something else, and then push through it.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Well I have suffered writer's block but never that bad. The best solution for me is force myself to write something, anything at all. That would usually do.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Hey DL! I totally agree. I rely on my outlines so much--and they become my story bibles. SOmetimes just reading thru them inspires me or sparks a new idea. :)

    ReplyDelete
  33. I've been meaning to come by here and offer you and your family some well-wishes after reading a previous post of yours. I truly hope it all passes soon.

    I'm like you, I haven't yet felt the pang of creative block... But this month has offered me an excellent excuse to keep putting off a particularly tricky chapter in my manuscript!

    ReplyDelete
  34. I think writers block is just your mind telling you it wants to write something specific and it just can't remember what it was. Like craving something to eat and going to the fridge ten times until you figure out what it is.

    ReplyDelete
  35. When I get writer's block, it's usually because I'm losing perspective on my story and need to take a step back to mull things over before any more futile attempts at proceeding. Sometimes a small break and a switch in gears is enough to trigger the creativity again.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I've started to use outlines and it does really help a lot!

    Allison (Geek Banter)

    ReplyDelete
  37. Indeed, my human friend, there is actually no such thing as writer's block or your stove up analogy. I know that if one claims to profess they have writer's block they can write about having writer's block which actually means they are writing and proves they don't have writer's block.

    Lucky you, a highly prized comment from Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet star over at the Z to A :)

    ReplyDelete
  38. Goodness, I've been in Florida 4 years and haven't heard that one yet. Maybe I just don't get out enough, eh?

    The only time I've had writers block is when I stressed myself out by setting unrealistic deadlines. Writing comes naturally when we don't tense up. It's like a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Your comment about vague notations made me think of some dreams that I've had and afterwards tried to jot down a few words to remember the "awesome" story idea only to find out the next morning that I'd written the equivalent of, "An awesome story about that guy." LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  40. That picture is awesome! I have never heard that term...so funny. Thanks for the great advice!

    ReplyDelete
  41. That pic is too funny.

    I have never experienced writer's blog either, but I do like your solution for this problem DL.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Creative laxative is my new favorite term.

    ReplyDelete
  43. What an interesting phrase. Clearly, it's one of those odd, southern phrases that is used only in the deep South. :-)

    When I get "stove up" I take a break and try to do something in a different creative vein (painting, knitting) to jump start the creativity.

    Lyre @ Lyre's Musings #atozchallenge

    ReplyDelete
  44. Personally, I don't allow myself to get stove up. If I'm feeling unable to write, I write anyway. It's sort of like doing the dishes. Bad things will happen if they don't get done. Strange smells will invade the house. Crusty dishes will start to come alive with mold, cockroaches and other nasty things and no one around here will be happy at all. Well, my writing is the same way. I just do it, because it has to get done or I won't be happy at all.

    You've shared some useful advice for people who do stove up - writing sub par and coming back to it later, making outlines, letting ideas simmer until they are ready to reveal themselves. Thanks DL. I enjoyed this post a lot:)

    ReplyDelete
  45. I've never heard of "stove up" before! Fun :)

    I've never really had writer's block either, but I've found some stories hard to work on - mostly because I'm in a boring spot in the story. Always a bad sign. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  46. Neat, I hadn't heard this phrase before! Funny, though - outlining *causes* me to get stove up! I need to free flow "what happens next?" excitement of writing my way through a story.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Haha! I love how you used it to mean constipation of the mind. LOL ... I never thought of it in that sense, but it's a very creative description. :)

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog: kristenhead.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete

 

Archives

Blog Blitz

Design by: The Blog Decorator