There’s a debate over whether or not this actually exists. I’ve heard convincing arguments against it, but I still believe this exists. Anything that prevents a writer from being able to sit down and write the story is writer’s block (at least in the way I define it).
The sources of writer’s block varies.
It can be real life demanding you tend to more urgent needs (such as an illness or filing taxes).
It can be exhaustion. (This is why I recommend taking two days off a week from writing to refresh yourself. I don’t believe a writer needs to write every single day. Setting up days off to regroup can really help for the longterm stamina needed to consistently publish books through the year.)
It can be something in the story that isn’t going right. Maybe the character is leading us in one direction, but we think the character is making a huge mistake so we try to steer the character in another direction. (Most of the time, this is why I hit writer’s block.) Sooner or later, the character totally rebels and stops altogether. You can force the issue, but the story ends up sucking when you do. (And yes, I’ve done this, only to regret it.) This is why I believe in letting the characters lead all the time, even when it scares me.
Whatever the issue, there are times when you can feel stuck.
What can you do to help combat it?
The hardest part can be pulling yourself up out of the writing funk. I have a few tips. If anyone has any they’d like to add, feel free to add them.
- Work on something else. The only problem with this is that you might get sidetracked and end up ditching the original story. You want to finish the original story. This probably works best if you can write more than one story at a time. But if you can work on the second story, finish it, and then get back to the original, you’ll be okay doing this method.
- Write ahead. If you know for sure a scene will be coming up in the story, go ahead and write it out.
- Try writing 250 words and see how things go. I learned this tip from a podcast Joanna Penn did with James Scott Bell, except he said he does 350 words. I thought he said 250. I just read the transcript and see I was wrong by 100 words. But I think the principle is still a good one. Try a little bit and see if it gets things going. Here’s the site for the podcast info: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2015/09/28/writing-discipline-james-scott-bell/
- A tip I just learned from another podcast at The Creative Penn that Joanna had with Michaelbrent Collings sounds promising. The basic idea is to put something ridiculous into the scene to get things rolling. So if you’re hero is trapped in a room, and you are trying to figure out how to get him out, you can do something like have a bird come into the room and say, “Let’s get out of here.” The hero would ask the bird, “How are we going to do that?” Then the bird might say, “There’s a window over there.” Then you take out the bird and write the scene. I’ve tried this a couple of times already, and I think it actually works. I don’t write in the bird. I just imagine the bird. I hate rewriting anything, so the less typing I do, the better. But you can modify this idea to fit your personality as a writer. Here’s the link if you want to hear more from this podcast: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2016/04/04/write-faster-michaelbrent-collings/
- Step away and take a break. Sometimes you just have to do that. And there’s nothing wrong with taking time off to regroup if you need to do it. I know being vigilant is important, as I wrote in my last post. But I also know there’s a time when you have to take a break.