So a few weeks ago I posted about writer’s itch, making the grand claim that it would be the first in a two-part series on writer’s problems. You thought I forgot about part two, didn’t you? Fortunately, I did not! I am back today to impart unto you dear readers, the sage wisdom and advice of a truly seasoned author.
Just kidding! But I do want to share five things I find helpful when I get stuck in a writing rut.
Thing One: Write through it.
Turn on some music, turn down your screen brightness, and just type words. Spelled wrong, with poor grammar, little plot, hollow dialogue, the works. Simply get words out onto the page, and who knows, you may stumble upon just the thing you need for your story to move forward.
Thing Two: Let it percolate.
Maybe you are straight-up burnt out. Have you been writing a lot lately? Perhaps it’s time for a break. Let the story sit in your brain for a while. Have a nice hot shower and mull over the various plot points and characters and story arcs. Go for a run or a bike ride to get some fresh air and exercise. Clean your workspace. Emerge from your writing cave and interact with other humans (watching TV does NOT count as interaction, by the way). Other humans are often a great way to get over writer’s block, especially if you can bounce ideas off of them.
Thing Three: Outline.
My writing process is an awkward mix between unplanned word vomit and carefully outlined story. I find it very helpful when I get stuck, or feel unmotivated, to pull out my trusty writing notebook and read over all my notes about the story. Then I give my plot and characters a face-lift (or sometimes a complete overhaul). “Where do I go from here?” is often an unhelpful question, and I find it a lot more fun and productive to explore “Where can I go from here?” Write out all the different turns your story could take, then pick one and run with it. If it doesn’t work out, you can always go back and change it later.
Thing Four: Write from a different perspective.
Open an new word document, and write from the perspective of your antagonist. What do they want? What are they doing to get it? How is the protagonist standing it their way? What are they going to do about it? Even though none of this may ever end up in your final manuscript, exploring your story from a fresh perspective, especially the villain or antagonist’s perspective, can add a lot of depth and complexity that you would otherwise have missed.
Thing Five: Research.
Go find out how other writers before you have survived the dreaded writer’s block. Get inspired by reading a really good book. Pick apart your favourite story to find out what it is you love so much about it, and see if you can use any of that brilliance to salvage your own work. Read some blogs and explore writing websites, both to remind yourself that you are not the only one who’s experiencing this, and to get ideas for how to move on.
And finally if none of those things have worked, and you’re still stuck and feeling bleh and wondering if you should just give up and delete your novel and burn all your notebooks and then maybe move to Australia and farm sheep, take heart! This too shall pass. Besides, while I’m sure Australia is very nice, if you move there your family will miss you (unless, of course, you already live in Australia…). Plus, in the end, writing should be most of all something you do because you love doing it. So take a few deep breaths, remind yourself that you do actually like writing, stop reading this blog post, and go forth with pen in hand to take on the world! 😀
Have any of you experienced a bout of writers’ block before? How did you deal with it? Do you do any of the same things I do? Have you ever wanted to move to Australia?