You’ll find hundreds of articles like this. And yes, I know this article might just get lost in the void. Sure, some of those tips from professional writers and editors, and people with 20 books under their belts. But we’re all different and we all have different tactics for getting through this. Here are mine.
I’ve been relatively lucky recently. If anything, I’m bursting with ideas and can’t keep up with all of them. Despite this, I do still feel the drag of that anchor that keeps us rooted to the spot staring at a blank page.
Move to On Something Else
When writer’s block hits us, it is usually because we are stuck on an ongoing project. You probably need a break from it so go back to something else stuck in development limbo, or do something else. I usually find it helpful to write some flash fiction or one of my many other projects, even if I have no intention of making that move a long-term or permanent thing (until it’s finished). Take a few days out. Find today’s VSS365 prompt on Twitter. A change is as good as a rest, as they say.
Write Utter Rubbish
You’re going to anyway so you might as well embrace it. While at university I made little time for writing fiction. My then partner gave me a three word exercise to write about. It ended up being a truly craptastic short story about a redneck going to hunt a boar when he almost shoots a duck. No publisher in the world would ever touch it and I am actually too embarrassed to post it here. But… it was something. I had actually written something for the first time in years. Nothing ever came of “Chuck and the duck” but you never know, your brain fart might become something.
TARDIS the Sh*t out of That
You’ve hit a brick wall with your novel. You know where you want to be… five chapters into the future… but you don’t know you will get there. So why don’t you write the actually being there? There is no rule in the Author’s Rulebook of Writing that says your book has to be written in a linear fashion. There is, in fact, no Author’s Rulebook of Writing either so work on your book whichever way best suits you. You know how the film Pulp Fiction is completely non-linear? Yes, you can write a book like that too. When I started writing Phobetor’s Children I wrote chapter 1, then chapter 2 (which would eventually become chapter 1) and then constructed a number of back stories. Similarly, with both Salmonweird stories I wrote the final chapter soon after the first.
Take a Breather
Stop. Do something else. A change is as good as a rest and there is no harm taking a break from all writing. This is why when editing, I build deliberate breaks into a new release – several weeks between major edits. Taking a break while still on the 1st draft helps you disconnect so you’re not obsessing over where to go. Sometimes, like 3am or in the shower, the idea will just come to you.
Back Stories for Private use
There’s nothing wrong with writing a back story, even if you never use it – I wrote some flashback scenes for Phobetor’s Children which, though I initially intended to include in the finished product. As the story developed (and beta readers universally felt the story would be served better removing them) they became great reference material for writing 10k of new text. Writing a back story, some motivation, some childhood experience for one of your characters can sometimes lead to new directions for your characters or your story. Make it a self-contained short story and treat it as such, rather than as a chapter or a prologue of your book.
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