5 Ways to Ward Off Writer’s Block
Writer’s Block is being unable to start writing or think of what to write next.
You know those days when you get all super inspired and start planning or writing a novel? Suddenly, you’re ready to sit at a typewriter and blast out a best-selling, award-winning novel like those authors in the movies? Yeah, those are the best feelings ever.
But, what about the other 90% of our writer’s life?
If you’re anything like me, you aren’t in a “writing mood” very often. And, when you are, you’re either busy or having an anxiety attack about how to start and/or continue. It really is disheartening when writer’s block strikes like that. For the average adult, we don’t have a lot of time to devote to ourselves. So, when we finally get the time, we really don’t want to waste it because of writer’s block. So, I wanted to give you a few suggestions on what I do to get myself going.
1. Have a conversation with a character to learn his/her story.
As weird as that may sound, it does actually work. Start the conversation like when meeting someone new. Then, drive it like you would with anyone else. You can write or type it; in either case, make sure you listen to their responses and write it down, too. That’s how you get your details. Don’t try to create answers for your character, even if you don’t like the ones (s)he’s giving. It’s just to get you started, then you can change things later.
Related Article — “Essential Literary Elements for Better Storytelling: Character”
Still not sure how to start? Ask him/her what her name is and where he is from (yes, the gender changed on purpose to encompass both). From there, chat like you’re homies from grade school. You’ll find that your writer’s block will disappear as you flesh out the ideas of our character’s journey.
2. Plan the scenes of your story to get your ideas going.
Most of us are not gifted with writing best-sellers off the top of our heads and as we go. A well-written story is not only craft with words, but with characters, conflict, and structure, too. There are tons of ways you can plan out your stories. You can outline it, use the classic plot mountain, break it into acts, scenes, chapters, whatever you need.
Check out my Pixarian Writing Series for tips and tricks to outline your characters, conflict, and structure.
The goal is to isolate all the major parts of the story, then develop them individually. Once you have a big picture, you can start piecing the puzzle together. It should provide a little more confidence to get you started. And, it will probably get you excited about writing what you’ve planned if it’s going well. Remember, writer’s block is mostly from lethargy or self-criticism.
3. Write the very last chapter or climax scene of your story.
We’re always told that life is about the journey, not the destination. Though this is true, we’re not sure which way to start walking (or running if you’re so over this life) if we don’t have a destination in mind. The same goes for writing. How do you want your story to end? Write that very last scene. Write what the reader will read before they close your book and surmise over when part two will come out. You can do that with the climax, as well. What is the key turning point in the story? The point of no return for the characters? Write out that scene and build up and down that mountain.
Related Article — “Foster Change with Structure”
Once you have the key scene written out, plan and write what leads to those moments. How did the characters get to that point? What the hell did they do?! If you’re not sure where your story will end or what that big change will be yet, I suggest you “talk” to your characters first.
4. Read, watch, and listen to similar stories and critique them.
The old adage that to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader is very true. As a teacher though, I hold that to be good at either of those, you need to understand what defines “good”. When following the other stories, think about what makes those stories good and bad to you. Based on that, what are you sure to do and not do? Where can you improve where they failed?
Related Article — “Find Ideas with Opposites”
If you’re like me, who watches B-rated movies or Reddit submitted stories that may not meet the “caliber” of good, identify successful stories in your genre that you can “research”. Read reviews about why people do and do not like these stories. This will probably inspire you to capture that idea right there and you’ll start writing despite your writer’s block.
5. Post your story, idea, or plan to a writing community and ask for feedback.
Never forget, you’re not the only crazy one out there. There are so many places where stories are posted and shared. There are even more places where writers talk about writing, whether they post or not. Find those places and join the conversation. Pitch your idea, post your work, ask for feedback, ask for ideas, ask for criticism and comparisons and anything else you think will help you.
Not everyone will like your work, and that’s okay. Remember these 4 things to cope with that situation and carry on being awesome.
Talking about something is probably the best way to flesh out your ideas when you have writer’s block. When we think of things, we fill in the gaps without realizing it. But, when you explain it to others, their questions make you notice those gaps. Because you have to help someone else understand, you have to understand more, too. Even more so, you want to write out what you mean with a description so they really get what you’re saying. Collaboration is how we progress as humans.
I’m constantly working with others’ writing; so, writing for myself is a struggle at times. However, I still manage to do it when I find the energy and time. If I have at least those two, I don’t worry about writer’s block because I know one of these will help. And, if it doesn’t, I try to induce my writing groove and/or do other planning and research.
It never hurts to try.
What do you do to fight off writer’s block? Did you try these? How did it work out? Comment, share, follow, and whatever else to let us know your take. And, sign up for the bi-weekly Writer’s Wisdom newsletter for access to free writing downloads, like the plot organization workbook!