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'08 Authors Insider Tips

Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Epublishing: A Different Way
Choosing an Epublisher
Your Milage May Vary
Understand Your Contract!
Reasonable Expectations

by Louisa Burton
The Publishing Biz
Critiquing: To Give and ...
Commerical vs. Literary...
Antiformalism for Fun &...
So You Want to Write a Novel
The Story Idea
Planning Your Novel...

The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
5 Steps to Success
Opening Passages
Let's Get Critical
Writer's Block
Learning Lessons

Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Be a Finisher ...
Listen to Your Characters
Conferences: Act Now ...
Starting an Erotic Story
Exercises & Writing Prompts
Revising & Rewriting
Copy Editing
The Manuscript Critique
How to Submit Your Work
Reading as Craft

Guest Appearances

Adventures in e-Publishing
by Lisabet Sarai

For the Love of Man
by Laura Baumbach

How to...Influence Editors
by Alison Tyler

Marketing your e-Book
by Brenna Lyons

2008 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Role Play
Busy Doing Nothing
Picture of a Fish & Chip...
What I Did With My Summer

Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Naughty Cookies...
Tie Me Up, Please …
The Smut-Writer’s Holiday
Never Trust the Narrator ...
Compare and Contrast
Following the Pen
Naked at the Farmers Market
I’m Easy, But I’m No Slut
Good Girl Gone Bad
Pleasures of the Dark Side
Slow, Spare and Sexy

Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Raising Daughters
Jamie Lynn
The Good Old Days
Election '08
Traditional Marriage
Campaign 2008
Free Will

Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Masturbating on SSRIs
Sex and Disability
Besides Ourselves
Adjusting our Contrast

Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Sex Is All Metaphors
Turn-ons and Squicks
Sexual Truth
Fickle Muse
Porn, Erotica & Romance

Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Alison Tyler
Ashley Lister
Debra Hyde
Donna George Storey
Jeremy Edwards
Kristina Wright
Rachel Kramer Bussel

Erotic Hot Spots
by William S. Dean
Interview with Tilly Greene
Interview with Devyn Quinn

Getting Graphic
with William S. Dean
New Times for Readers...
The Future in Words ...
Interview with Fantagraphics

On Writing Erotica

The Accidental Pornographer
by Lisabet Sarai

The End of Innocence
by Lisabet Sarai

Get Them Off in High Style
Helena Settimana

So, You Want To Write Erotica?
by Hanne Blank

Web Gems
Hot Movies For Her

The Write Stuff

by Ashley Lister

Writer’s Block


I didn’t used to believe in writer’s block.  I always thought it was one of those fairy tales like Santa Claus or God or a happy marriage.  Ordinarily, when fellow writers have said to me that they’ve been suffering from writer’s block, I’ve made appropriate sympathetic sounds, and all the time I’ve been thinking, “You lazy, pretentious bastard!  There’s no such thing!  Just pick up your pen and get on with your writing.

So, when I got struck by writer’s block last month, I didn’t bother asking for sympathy.  Partly this was because I didn’t expect to receive any.  But mainly it was because I didn’t need sympathy—I needed a cure for my writer’s block. 

What is Writer’s Block?
I suppose we should set out a definition of writer’s block here—for those who aren’t sure what I’m talking about.  Writer’s block (according to my definition) is a debilitating condition that afflicts writers, prevents them from writing and threatens their very existence. 

This is more debilitating than those outside the writing world can imagine because a writer who can’t write is literally nothing.  What would you call a singer who can’t sing?  (I’m aware the X Factor gives us lots of different names for some of those singers, but that’s a different context).  What would you call a dancer who can’t dance?  The answer to both questions is that you would have to call them nothing.  Fortunately for singers and dancers, there are no such conditions as singer’s block or dancer’s block.  There is only writer’s block. 

Writer’s block manifests itself as an inability to write.  The most obvious symptom of writer’s block is that the writer can’t find the enthusiasm, inspiration or desire to write. 

What Causes Writer’s Block?
Writer’s block is caused by the same thing that causes headaches or a phobic reaction to slugs and celery.  Or, to put it more simply—no one really knows what causes writer’s block.  It can be caused by something as simple as a trusted companion saying, “You should stop writing—you’re shit.”  Or it could be borne from a host of more complex problems and issues.  Arguments, upsets, a bad review or a case of the squits could be responsible.  (NB—a case of the squits and a bad review are arguably the same thing). 

If the cause can be identified—if a writer can remember being told something along the lines of: “Write one more word and I’ll marinade your genitals in petroleum and then flick lit matches at your groin,” then the symptoms can be more easily addressed.  But if the condition just seems to come about of its own accord, treatment can be more difficult. 

How Do You Cure Writer’s Block?
This is the difficult part.  There is no cure for writer’s block except to carry on writing and break through the block. 

It is said that Victor Hugo used to overcome his writer’s block by writing in the nude.  Left alone, with no clothes and only a pencil and paper at his disposal, he is supposed to have had no alternative available except to write.  I can’t seriously believe that the same imagination that produced Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame couldn’t think of something else to do if he was wandering naked around the home.  However, it’s something that I have tried and I can wholeheartedly advise that it doesn’t work.  The only good thing to come from that experiment is that it’s stopped me from chewing the end of that particular pencil. 

Nevertheless, Hugo, Hemingway and Harlan Ellison have all stripped off (not together—I’m not trying to suggest anything dirty was going on between them) to try and inspire their private and personal muses. 

Other ways to circumvent the dreaded block can be equally effective or disastrous, depending on the individual.  Stream of consciousness writing works for some writers and not for others.  It doesn’t work for me as illustrated by the piece below:

Ashley sat naked at his desk writing words, like those you’ve just read, and those you’ve just read, and those you’ve just read, and those you’ve just read.  He stopped for a moment and stared thoughtfully at the end of his pencil.  An idea crossed his mind and, since he was naked, he thought, “Well, why don’t I just try it?  It’s already got a rubber on the end.”

Other methods for breaking writer’s block include the following two which I’ve diligently tried and rated below:

Getting Drunk.  It doesn’t work.  But it’s lots of fun.  It can count as a temporary cure only because the writer is unable to write due to either being too pissed or suffering from a hangover, rather than because of their writer’s block.

Getting Laid.  It doesn’t work.  But it’s lots of fun.  Obviously a partner is needed and most partners are not swayed into oodles of carnal enthusiasm by the chat up line, “I’ve got writer’s block—fancy a quickie?”  However, as a displacement activity, getting laid comes highly recommended. 

Some people say that writer’s block is a sign that you’re working on the wrong thing.  These are the same arseholes that usually say, “If it don’t come easy, there aint no natural flow.”  This isn’t actually advice that these people are giving—they’re simply misquoting country songs.  In fairness, it can help to break writer’s block by working on something different, or approaching the subject from a different angle—but this isn’t a sign that a previous way of writing was wrong.  It just means that the previous method was being hampered by the writer’s block.

The truth is that writer’s block is something akin to those random computer problems that can devastate an entire working week and then disappear as soon as the repairman sits in front of the keyboard.  Writer’s block happens and the only way to overcome it is to either work around the problem or break through it.  If you are suffering from writer’s block, try any of the ideas listed above, or try any of the million and one variations listed out there on the net or make up your own.  But, the only tried and trusted way to get through a writer’s block is to simply carry on writing.

Ashley Lister
September 2008

Find more of Ashley's Write Stuff in ERWA 2008 Archive.

"The Write Stuff" © 2008 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.

About the Author:  Ashley Lister is a UK author responsible for more than two-dozen erotic novels written under a variety of pseudonyms. His most recent work, Swingers: True Confessions from Today's Modern Swinging Scene (Virgin Books), a non-fiction book recounting the exploits of UK swingers, is his first title published under his own name.
Ashley’s non-fiction has appeared in a variety of magazines, including Forum, Chapter & Verse and The International Journal of Erotica.  Nexus, Chimera and Silver Moon have published his full-length fiction, with shorter stories appearing in anthologies edited by Maxim Jakubowski, Rachel Kramer Bussel and Mitzi Szereto.  He is very proud to be a regular contributor to ERWA.
Email:  Ashley Lister

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'08 Movie Reviews

Almost Perfect
Review by Oranje

The Fold
Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Spooky

Review by Spooky

'08 Book Reviews


Best Bisexual Women's Erotica
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Fantastic Erotica
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Women's Erotica '08
Review by Ashley Lister

Bound Brits (ebook)
Review by Ashley Lister

Deep Inside: Extreme ...
Review by Cervo

Dirty Girls
Review by Rose B. Thorny

Hide and Seek
Review by Ashley Lister

Hurts So Good
Review by Ashley Lister

J is for Jealousy
Review by Ashley Lister

K is for Kink
Review by Ashley Lister

Lust Bites
Review by Ashley Lister

Open for Business
Review by Rose B. Thorny

Review by Lisabet Sarai

Rubber Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Rubber Sex
Review by Victoria Blisse

Seriously Sexy
Review by Ashley Lister

Sex & Candy
Review by Ashley Lister

The Shadow of a... (poetry)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Victoria Blisse

Tasting Her
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Tasting Him
Review by Ashley Lister

Tasting Him
Review by Kathleen Bradean

White Flames
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Yes, Ma'am: Male Submission
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Yes, Sir: Female Submission
Review by Angelika Devlyn


The Art of Melinoe
Review by Ashley Lister

Demon by Day
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Gemini Heat
Review by Ashley Lister

Gothic Heat
Review by Ashley Lister

The Hidden Grotto Series
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The House of Blood
Review by Lisabet Sarai

In Too Deep
Review by Ashley Lister

In Too Deep
Review by Victoria Blisse

Review by Donna George Storey

Review by Victoria Blisse

One Breath at a Time
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Out of the Shadows (ebook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Review by Ashley Lister

Review by Rose B. Thorny

Seduce Me
Review by Ashley Lister

Seduced by the Storm
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Serve the People!
Review by Donna G. Storey

Signed, Sealed and Delivered
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Sunfire (eBook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Templar Prize
Review by Angelika Devlyn

The Wicked Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Wild Kingdom
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Gay Erotica

Review by Vincent Diamond

Best Gay Romance '08
Review by Vincent Diamond

Hard Hats
Review by Vincent Diamond

Review by Kathleen Bradean

Lesbian Erotica

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
Review by Donna George Storey

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
Review by Ashley Lister

The Night Watch
Review by Lisabet Sarai


America Unzipped
Review by Rob Hardy

Best Sex Writing '08
Review by Rob Hardy

Bonk: The Curious Coupling
Review by Rob Hardy

The Book of Love
Review by Rob Hardy

Casanova: Actor Lover ...
Review by Rob Hardy

Dishonorable Passions
Review by Rob Hardy

Flagrante Delicto (photos)
Review by Jack Gilbert

The Flesh Press
Review by Rob Hardy

Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star
Review by Donna G. Storey

The Humble Little Condom
Review by Rob Hardy

Instant Orgasm (sex guide)
Review by Ashley Lister

Man O Man! Writing M/M...
Review by Vincent Diamond

The Not So Invisible Woman
Review by Ashley Lister

Swingers: Female...
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Who's Been Sleeping in...
Review by Rob Hardy