Unblocking Writer's Block

Feb 25, 2010

We all get it. It goes by different names– we might get “stuck,” or “not know what’s coming next.” The dreaded writer’s block hits us all, whether it be in the middle of a story, or at the very beginning when we’re trying to decide what this thing is going to be about.

As a discovery writer, I find I’m prone to this at least once a week. I’m carrying on just fine, and then WHAM. My character comes into a situation where I don’t know what they’re going to do. Or there’s a conversation that peters out and I don’t know where it’s going next. Or there’s an action scene coming and I can’t figure out how to get there from where I’m at. Or…you get the idea. The one thing I never do when I get stuck is STOP. If I stopped every time I hit a block, I’d never have finished a single story. Here’s a few things I do instead.

1. Get to know my characters better. Often, I get blocked because I don’t know what my characters are going to do next. Usually, your characters are driving a plot. Their actions and decisions determine where things are going. But if I don’t know how my character will react in a situation, how can I know what’s coming? I’ll go in and re-read their sketch. I’ll think of varying directions the plot could go, and see if any of them strike me as “he would never do that” or “that’s exactly how he’d do that!” Sometimes, the answers surprise me, and I find that something I never thought a character would do actually is what he would do– and then I’ve got a whole new plot twist, and a deeper character.

2. Push somebody off a cliff. Okay, not literally. However, my first creative writing teacher in college taught me something that has stuck with me ever since. Don’t know what’s next? Think of the most outlandish, craziest, ridiculous thing that could happen. Push a character off a cliff, or have aliens descend to defeat the dragon, or make the villain passionately kiss the hero instead of killing her. Odds are, it will be so nuts (and maybe have a little too much deus ex machina in it) to use, but I’ve found that this process often leads me to other ideas along the way. They usually tend to be more creative, as well.

3. Work on another project for a few days. If I’m really stuck, I’ll often move on to another project, such as one of my short stories. That way, I’m still writing, and I’m giving my subconscious mind time to work on the problems in my other piece. Sometimes, I’m too close to a story and need to back up a bit. Then, coming back to it, I have an easier time pushing past my block because I’ve taken a rest.

4. Skip the scene. Who says we have to write the story in the order we want it read in? If I don’t know how to get from point A to point B, sometimes I’ll just jump in and start writing point B. I’ll usually mark it so I don’t forget I did that (i.e. putting [add transition scene here] in bold), and after I keep going, I may have enough of the story down to know what happened to get from point A to point B.

I should probably add a fifth, just to round things out, but I’m afraid that’s all I’ve got. Still, if those four things have gotten me through, why worry?

So how do you get through writer’s block? Let’s discuss!


Shallee McArthur © 2013 | Designed by Bubble Shooter, in collaboration with Reseller Hosting , Forum Jual Beli and Business Solutions