Most writers hit a part of their story where their creative juices dry up, or they are unsure of how to go on. Sometimes, it is just the fatigue of writing the story and living with the same characters for days, weeks, and months. Other times, you may not like the direction the story has gone. You may be unsure as to what to do next in your story.
And, you hit a wall. That, my friend, is writer’s block.
To start, you need to figure out what your problem is, or rather where. Where in the story are you being blocked? Isolate and identify the part that is giving you writer’s block.
Here are 3 ways to break or surmount writer’s block:
1. The first way is to muscle through the writer’s block. Many writers, as well as myself, attempt to break through. After all, it is a block, so let’s break it. Why not? Well, as Michael Banks says in Writer Magazine, “This brute-force approach rarely lends itself to writing.” However, there is some things that you can do here, if you must keep going.
You should take a short break. Get a cup of ocha or something. Then in another file on the computer, write a summary of what you want to happen. For example, you know that your main character has to escape from Mr. Dastard, but you are not sure how. Write out a summary of the struggle, and think of something for the escape (anything is okay for now), and what you want to happen afterwards up to your next plot point. You now have something. If you must keep going, go ahead and write the parts after the escape. If you do not need to keep going, put your writing aside, and go walk the dog. After a little bit of time, you will start coming up with alternatives to the escape that you just wrote. Simply having something will tease your mind into coming up with a better something. Then, go back to your file and rewrite it.
2. Another way is to skip the section that is giving you writer’s block entirely. If we use the same example, you would write XXX in the escape section of your character’s story, and just keep going. Also from Michael Banks, quoting the great Jerry Pournelle:
Write what you know. “Get as much as you can on paper as fast as you can,” Pournelle says. “Skip ahead and write the parts you already know how to write. You can go back later and fill in the rest.” As you jump ahead, write notes to yourself about what you intend to write-or just leave a place marker, like “XXXXX.”
This way works also with 1, if you leave a note instead of XXXX. Something like, “escape scenes go here.”
3. The third way is somewhat similar to number 1. To beat writer’s
block, think. Take a few moments and look out the window.
Many times, we start a story with one end in mind, or perhaps no actual ending visualized. As time goes on, we get so deep into the narrative that we lose our way, or our characters do. Maybe we have gone off the course we originally intended into the jungle of plot threads. We cannot see how to get from here to the ending we had planned (hopefully) or we have no ending planned and no idea how to end the story. In such cases, some moments, or even hours, of quiet reflection can give you the time you need to pull it all together or perhaps to find the missing piece.
There are other ways to beat writer’s block, but these are the three that I’ve found most useful. Give them a try.
Have any good ideas to beat writer’s block? Leave me a message.