4 Methods to break through writer’s block
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m an editor who writes, which I think helps me identify with my clients and their writing process and concerns. I’ve been on that side of the fence (working on my fifth novel now), and I know what kind of work it takes to complete a whole book.
I also know what it feels like to get writer’s block, to have no clue what should come next, to feel painted into a corner I can’t escape.
Some writers say there’s no such thing as writer’s block. They don’t acknowledge it. They don’t suffer from it. Yay for them, if that’s true. However, I recently suffered from it, so I thought I’d offer you four methods to combat writer’s block whenever you experience it (if you ever do).
- Keep writing. Stay with the same character, continue the scene. Just stay there and keep writing. You will write yourself out of it. Maybe what you write won’t work. Maybe you’ll have to rewrite the whole scene. But just keep writing because if you do, you’ll find your way.
- Switch POVs and/or scenes. If you’ve gotten into a corner with a character and you don’t know where they should go from where you left them, or you don’t like where you left them but you don’t know how to fix that, switch scenes. Leave that trouble spot alone for a bit and write a new chapter focusing on a different scene—a different character if possible. By the time you finish that new scene, you’ll likely know what to do to fix the one that was giving you fits.
- Outline. I’ve been outlining more and more lately, and it’s been helpful. I know some people don’t like it, but when you’re stuck, that black-and-white, methodical, organizational process can help you break out of that jail cell you feel trapped inside. Look at it objectively and just map out what comes next.
- Play the “what-if” game. This can be fun. Brainstorm a bunch of different options for your character. They don’t have to make sense. They don’t have to fit the story.
For example, you’re writing a scene between two friends and one just told the other she doesn’t want to be friends any longer. She can’t stand the other woman. Except that just doesn’t feel right to you, and now you’re stuck. You wrote the scene that led up to that. Your character made that big, explosive remark. What now?
Well, what if she broke down crying? What if she started laughing? What if she walked out and thought it was the best decision she ever made? What if she walked out and got hit by a truck? Kidnapped? Bitten by a scorpion or a snake? What if she left, went home, thought about it, and figured out a way to apologize?
See what I mean? Think of as many “what-if” scenarios as you can. Maybe you won’t use any of them. Maybe you’ll still have to go back and rewrite the scene and change what you did. But the process will get you thinking creatively—and get you thinking differently—and that’s always good for breaking through a case of writer’s block.
In a nutshell, keep writing. Have fun. Don’t give up. And send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you’re working on, how it’s going, and how I can help.
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