Writers Above All Things Must Write: Five Tips to Avoid Writer's Block
'We've all been there. This grand idea that was going to be the best thing that has ever been written. Or maybe just an inspiring idea. But the writing that the idea has been roughly fleshed out, and no more ideas are forthcoming; the idea seems to have flickered out. At this point, we reach back into the recesses of our minds and search for that inspiration that drove us to the keyboard, but it's a slippery little thing. It hasn't left, it didn't just disappear to the land of promising ideas, it's now changed. It burned bright as that spark of thought to get our attention, and now it's simmering, waiting for the finer details to be interwoven into the what has begun.
While waiting for that inspiration to reappear, using the following tips can help you get your writing back on track.
Tip #1 - Larger details can segue into side-plots.
I've often found when drafting a story for the first time, I will often be working so hard on fleshing out the main plot, that side plots go unnoticed for quite some time. If you have reached that point in the main plot that you can no longer see a way forward, look for the side-plot seeds that have been planted along the way.
Changing your focus to these smaller plots can help inspire the way forward for the main plot.
Tip #2 - Work on individual characters
Characters are grown organically throughout the telling of the story. Those characters that arc do not do so in just one paragraph or chapter. If you're struggling with moving your story forward, change your focus to just one character at a time. Work out when and how you will reveal details in the physical sense as well as how this character relates to the overall plot and/or main character.
Not only will your characters go from flat and static to round and dynamic, this also might shake a few ideas loose as to how to advance the plot from where you've left off.
"You can't think yourself out of a writing block, you have to write yourself out of a thinking block." – John Rogers
Tip #3 - It's okay to work on more than one project at a time
While it can often feel like you're "cheating on" a manuscript you're working on if you pick up another, often this is just the break our minds need to refresh and pump out new ideas. Using a different style of writing is particularly effective here.
While I'm primarily a novelist, I do dabble in poetry. Changing focus to poetry allows my mind to break free from the current plot I'm struggling with as well as adopt a new way of thinking. Even if a write a poem that will never leave my computer screen, when I come back to my manuscript, I have fresh eyes and a mind that's ready to tackle the problem at hand.
Tip #4 - Change perspectives
When taking your mind out of the current perspective such as the main character and putting it into another character's, this allows the mind to look at the problem in a new way. From the villain's perspective, it is possible to see ways to move the plot forward that the protagonist would not be thinking of or concentrating on.
A word of caution here; this could easily turn into writing a whole other story that hadn't been planned for. It is important to check in with yourself and the plot often while writing from this perspective to make sure you're not veering too far off course.
Tip #5 - Backwards planning
While many writers have a plethora, if not all of, the main details of their story worked out before they ever begin to write, we don't all work that way. If you're like me, you know the general plot of your story, how you want to begin it, how it should end, and maybe a few details in between, and that's enough to get started. Regardless of the type of writer you are, if forward motion no longer seems accessible while writing, give backward motion a try.
For example, if you're in midst of the exposition and not sure where to place the climax, taking a look at how the story will end, which storylines still need some work, may help bring you back to where you left off and decide how to proceed to the most exciting moments within the story. Since you've already "seen" how the audience will react to the ending of the story, writing the middle may become that much easier.
Back in Business
When applying these five tips to the business of writing, you will certainly have added some value to your current project and be headed in the direction of a satisfying conclusion.
Tell me your thoughts. What are your favorite ways to get out of a writing rut? Leave a comment and share how you approach your most frustrating moments as a writer.