What to do when writer’s block strikes

July 27, 2013

I don’t believe in writer’s block. Yet, it showed up anyway.

 

Baby Writer's Block

Maybe I got stuck because I decided that I, like Steven King, could write by the seat of my pants. No plotting for me. Only a preconceived idea of where my story is going, how it might end—and pure creative force. I even wrote a previous post proclaiming my intention to throw structure aside and enjoy the freedom of writing unencumbered.

I forgot one thing. I’m not Steven King. Sigh.

After a week of angst, I decided to start back at square one. I set about rereading, analyzing and summarizing each of my ten chapters so I could actually chart my story arc.

Does this mean I’m giving up my creative freedom? Certainly not. It simply means I’ve learned I need a road map, albeit a sketchy one, to refer to when I feel uncertain of my path. I don’t have to list every detail of each town along the way.

An interesting thing happened as I started summarizing. Ideas for plot turns and twists began to appear in my effortlessly in my mind, as did new scenes and character dialogue. I seemed to have dislodged the offending roadblock.

This led me to wonder about other ways to foil this deadly foe. Turns out, there are a plethora of tips out there. I selected a few I like from WikiHow. Comments are mine.

 

1. Reread your story and analyze it.

Which is what I am doing at the moment.

2. Take a break.

Items one and two are closely related.
Here’s what Neil Gaiman, award-winning graphic novelist and children’s author suggests:

Put [your writing] aside for a few days, or longer, do other things, try not to think about it. Then sit down and read it (printouts are best I find, but that’s just me) as if you’ve never seen it before. Start at the beginning. Scribble on the manuscript as you go if you see anything you want to change. And often, when you get to the end you’ll be both enthusiastic about it and know what the next few words are. And you do it all one word at a time.

3. Read other books for inspiration.

Select your reading material carefully. If you start comparing yourself unfavorably to the author you’re reading, put the book down. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to copy another’s voice and style. Your voice is unique and needs to be heard.

4. Talk to other writers.

Something creative happens when you spend time with your tribe.

Next time, we’ll take a look at an interesting technique for coming up with ideas.