At one time or another, it seems like every writing blog tackles this issue. BUT, they don’t have the super-duper-miraculous-writer’s-block-cure-of-the-millenium that I do!
Okay, no I don’t have that – at ease. I get “block” just like everyone else. There’s really not a whole lot of point in looking at why (unless you think that will help you resolve yours – then go ahead). And, truthfully, I don’t always smash through it to finish every story that I start. I have at least 6-12 (or more) unfinished stories. Some only have a line or two, some only have a basic idea sketched out and some fill numerous pages before they stop.
On the off chance that it helps you with yours, here are some of the things I do:
- I try not to go off into another world.
For instance, if I’m writing Lord of the Rings stories, I try not to read Harry Potter. It shifts my focus and makes it all the easier NOT to knuckle down and finish the Lord of the Rings story. If you aren’t writing in a specialized universe like I do, it would be easier for you, I would think – it would be harder to get pulled off course, and there would be more likelihood of ideas that might spur something in your story. That would apply to anything: if you’re writing romance, getting wrapped up in reading mysteries may not fill you with usable ideas for your romance. Reading other romances, might spark something, though you need to be careful about snitching ideas. If you keep it “vague” enough, however, it is acceptable. No one has the copyright on “love at first sight”.
While you are reading or watching these other things, whether they be classics of the genre or mediocre, consider what does and does not work in the storytelling. Does that book have a great plot, but it’s poorly executed? Do you have instances in your story where you do something similar? How does the storyteller pace their story? How, and how well, are the characters developed? If you can’t connect with the characters, why not? (One of the things about the movie Thor – I never really believed the romance in it. I wasn’t sold that these two were all of a sudden desperately in love with each other.) Does your story have the same or similar problems to those you see elsewhere?
- If I’m not writing the actual story, I try to stay in the story by doing supplemental research.
Geography, climate, how to correctly use a bow and arrow (really, not much like you see in most movies), effects of certain injuries, and so forth. Sometimes in the course of researching one or two things, I get ideas of more to do with them. In the story I am currently working on, I wanted to map out a route for something, but since I play in Tolkien’s world I found that realistically it simply wouldn’t work. BUT, I could still use some of that research to have the character trying to find a route, and using my failure to find what I wanted as part of her failure to find what she wanted.
- I keep reviewing and editing what I have written.
Sometimes that sparks new ideas, and if nothing else I make progress on the editing side of it.
- I try to ask myself questions.
What else needs to happen? How do they get from here to there? What happens along the way? Why didn’t they just…? You get the idea. Anything to keep me working the story. I have to get them over that mountain to a different city? How far is it? How rough is the terrain? What are the options for travel? How long will it take? Does something slow them down so that they are in danger of not arriving to the other city by a certain time?
Don’t worry if you think you’re writing junk. Just write it. You can edit junk. You can’t edit a blank page. Something is better than nothing. If you have a trusted friend who will read it for you, they may ask you questions (since it is unfinished) that will help guide you in knowing what more you need to add.
Hopefully some of these things will help you keep plugging away. Good luck!
also see in Category “Writer’s Block”:
Spell It Out, January 21, 2017
Choices, January 27, 2017