I’ve decided that in between posts about books and my
super boring awesome life, I would also share some of my brilliant writing advice with you all. (Since I am obviously very experienced in the subject. I have plenty of novels. Granted, none of them are actually published, but still.)
So, the problem I’m here to address today is every writer’s greatest enemy… writer’s block. I know, I know. Even saying the words can strike fear into every writer’s heart. I would honestly take a fire breathing dragon over writer’s block any day. (Mostly because dragons = awesomeness!)
#1: If you can’t go forward, go backward.
Before you can write about a character’s future, you need to know their past.
This is so important. If you’re getting stuck moving forward with your story, it’s possible that it’s not your story that’s the problem- you probably just don’t know your character well enough.
When you know your character as well as you know one of your best friends, you’ll know exactly what they would do in the current situation. Every realistic character has a past, and every good writer should know everything about that past.
So press the rewind button and write a scene from your character’s past, an event that would have taken place before your story began. Maybe it’s because of this event that they now hold a grudge against another character. Maybe this event is the origin of one of their deepest fears. Maybe not. Maybe it’s just the memory of the first time they went out for ice cream, and that’s why your character now always orders two scoops of Double Fudge Brownie when they go to the ice cream shop.
The events you write about when you press rewind don’t need to be life altering. They’re just meant to help you get to know your character a little bit better. Pasts are important; they’re the reason behind our present and future actions.
#2: Switch to the POV of a minor/less important character.
I can’t remember where I first heard this advice, but it has proved to be one of the most useful pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten! Each one of your characters, no matter how minor or insignificant they may seem at the reader’s first glance, have value and a unique perspective in your story.
If your main POV is just hitting a wall, switch the POV to another character. Your main character isn’t perfect; there are probably some important details or ideas they’ve missed. Switching to a new perspective might shed some new light on the situation.
(Besides, writing in the same character’s voice for hours and even days at a time can get a bit tiring, changing things up will give you something fresh and fun to work with.)
#3: If you don’t know how to solve your conflict or finish the scene, just skip it.
I do this all the time. If I don’t know how to finish the scene I’m writing, I press the enter button, write [EDIT] and come back for it later. Usually, the scenes I write afterward give me some pretty good ideas about how to continue the scene that I skipped.
Also, if there is a scene you just need to write (i.e. the fight scenes, I always want to get to those) then just write that scene! You shouldn’t be trying to hurry through the scenes leading up to it just so you can finally get to the scene you’ve been yearning to create. Skip to it, write it, and come back later.
#4: When it doubt, prompt it out!
Writing prompts can be your best friend. Or sentence starters. Or scene starters. Don’t ever feel bad because you need to gain inspiration from other people’s ideas.
In fact, the best ideas I get (character wise) come from People Watching, which is basically writer talk for watching people creepily to take notes of their mannerisms and habits. It can be quite fun, just make sure you don’t look like a stalker whilst doing it.
Prompts are the best way to get your creative juices flowing; they force you to stop thinking about the project you’re working on and just practice your writing skills.
#5: Have a sit down chat with your character squad.
Pull up a chair and start typing. Choose the most important characters in the scene you’re stuck on, and start having a conversation with all of them. I know, it’ll all be coming from your head, but that’s kind of the point.
EXAMPLE OF THIS TECHNIQUE:
Me: So, I’m stuck on this scene. Seriously, it’s not moving forward. Does anyone have any good ideas?
Callie: Well for one thing, Spike is not being nearly as sarcastic as he usually is.
Spike: So you’re saying this scene is dragging along because it’s missing my clever comedic wit? That’s so sweet, Cal.
Callie: Will you shut up?
Spike: Well, since you asked so nicely.
Me: Back to the scene. Now that you’ve both finally gotten inside the room, what’s the first thing you would do?
Spike: Well, Callie would probably start sorting through all of these papers on the floor and telling me boring facts.
Callie: Spike would definitely make some paper airplanes. And do absolutely nothing to help.
Spike: Why are you glaring at me? I didn’t do anything. This is purely hypothetical.
Callie: So you’re saying you wouldn’t make any paper airplanes?
Spike: I think that’s beyond the point.
(I hope this technique makes sense. Please comment below for directions if you are utterly lost.)
I hope you found at least one of these pieces of advice to be useful. Please comment below if you’d like to see more writing advice. What kinds of strategies do you use to combat writer’s block?