We’re back for round three in our Block Busting series! This is your one stop shop for breaking writer’s block and getting your pen back on paper, your fingers back on the keys and your characters back into action.
Today we have some practical advice and a great writing exercise for you to try:
Especially good for the mid-novel stumps!
Pop one or more of your characters out of the narrative and send them to the therapist's office. This is a great way to really interrogate your characters and find out how the events of the plot so far are affecting them, how they really feel about the other characters and why. Not sure of the reason a character is behaving in a certain way? Ask him. Not sure where your plot is going to go next? You probably need to talk to your villain / antagonist.
I used this technique recently, sending my main character to a psychiatrist who I originally imagined would help him solve a murder. Once they got talking I learned a whole lot more than I bargained for, which lead to two new subplots and clarity on some motivations I hadn’t actively realised I’d put into play.
The therapy sessions your characters attend might never make it into your book, but I guarantee you’ll learn something which will enrich your narrative.
You’ll hear a lot of writers, both professional and unpublished, tell you to focus on one project and refrain from writing anything else. And here’s the thing - that might work really well for them. But it’s not a universal rule; writers don’t all succeed using the same methods, so it’s up to you to figure out if this is a tactic which will work for you.
You might be surprised to know that there are professional and successful writers out there who advocate for having more than one project on the go specifically to help with writer’s block and motivation.
In an interview with The Guardian on writing rules, award winning author Geoff Dyer said:
“Have more than one idea on the go at any one time. If it's a choice between writing a book and doing nothing I will always choose the latter. It's only if I have an idea for two books that I choose one rather than the other. I always have to feel that I'm bunking off from something.”
Yet another award winning writer, Sam Reese, in an interview with Plot Factory said:
“It’s definitely okay to bounce between projects! Definitely. For me, that’s one of the reasons why I like writing essays and nonfiction criticism at the same time that I’m writing short fiction because for me, I think it’s really important to be able to give ideas space. (....) I always find that my subconscious will process them and build on them or make connections, so that when I come back to that project or I switch tracks, I’ve always got the next step or at least can see more clearly how I can get to the next step.”
Can’t get going? Perhaps a change of scene (pun intended) is in order. If it’s a toss up between not writing and writing something else, what’s your choice?
Set yourself up for success
This one is more about managing your flow and motivation, so writer’s block is less likely to occur. Here are three key tips to remember:
1. If you’re trying to write linearly and get stuck at a scene you’re struggling to get down on paper, make a few bullet points about the key things that need to happen, skip it and work on the next scene instead. Come back and draft it fully later, when you’re in the right frame of mind and feeling more inspired.
2. Whenever possible, always stop writing for the day when you’re still motivated to carry on, so you’ll be excited and prepared to pick up and continue the next day. Try to avoid burning yourself out.
3. When you sit down to write again, read through what you wrote the previous day, to help get yourself back into the flow.
The most important thing to remember with writer’s block is not to let it over-face you. Decide on a course of action - whether that’s a change, a break, a writing exercise, a refocus - and go with it confidently!
Feeling inspired? Log in and get writing!
Alternatively, why not try one of these articles next:
- How to increase your odds of getting picked up by a publisher
- What do you know and how do you write about it?
- 5 easy hacks to help you edit like a pro
Cover image: Free-Photos from Pixabay