I’ve written a few books and love the stories I created, but I also feel that I was too young (or too inexperienced) to tell the stories that I did. I’m proud of accomplishing what I did – I’ve written five YA novels and three novellas. I love the first three books that I wrote the most (but do feel like I need to retell it now that I’m older). Now that I’m working on the newest novel, which has been years in the making, I’m encountering some of those all-too-familiar symptoms of writer’s block. I’ve been writing since 2012 and have come up with a few tips for dealing with writer’s block – so I can start writing again – and I’d love to share them.
Oh man, dealing with writer’s block is awful, especially when you’re feeling inspired by a character or concept. It’s hard to imagine, feeling inspired but also being unable to write, but it happens more often than we think. For me, writer’s block comes in many different forms.
I can be fifteen thousand words in and stop. Sometimes, I can’t see where the road is going, where the characters are taking me. Sometimes, they fall silent and don’t talk to me. At times, I feel as though I’ve written an event down incorrectly.
Sometimes, much like this time, I feel like I can’t paint the world I’m imagining. I tried. I kept getting about five thousand words in but it wasn’t right. I wasn’t starting the story right. I didn’t have the characters right – their personalities, looks, wants, dreams, desires. This also happens but it might not be as often.
Heck, this even happens when I’m writing blog posts (those times when I have no idea what I want to write about or the weeks I don’t have a scheduled post). So, what do I, what to we do about it???
If you’re having trouble writing a novel, read a novel. Take note of the writing style. Remember what you like. Note what you didn’t like. And when reading these novels, pay attention to how the author introduces characters, describes them, or uses their chosen point of view. You may pick up on something that helps you better understand the human condition, something that helps you paint a realistic character and an extraordinary story.
If you’re struggling with a blog post, read a blog post. Sometimes, I even go on Pinterest and search for blog title formats. Sometimes this small, quick action helps me to come up with a blog post title, which causes a flood of ideas.
I don’t know about you but, for each book I write, I tell one person about it – I tell one person about it in great detail so that, when I share the story, that person can tell me if I’m showing the world what I meant to. If I’m feeling stuck, I might talk to them about where I’m at, what I’m writing.
This time, the book that I’m writing has grown from, not just my ideas, but another person’s. This person has been super involved in the writing process and, if I share a thought or idea, this person is able to tell me how ingenious (or stupid) it is.
Sometimes, if I’m struggling to write a situation that evokes intense emotion, I seek a deep conversation with someone. There are a few people in my life that are always willing to discuss deep, thought-provoking topics. This might help me to get an emotion or a thought right, which could move the story forward.
I don’t know about you but I’ve created a board on Pinterest that focuses on writing. This board contains various images, quotes, or other words that inspire me. I don’t create a separate board for each work in progress (although I’ve thought about it before) because I don’t share a lot of details about the characters, title, plot, etc. with others. Therefore, the random words that I’ve got as the descriptions don’t mean much to those viewing it.
When I’m struggling with inspiration, I just search for some. I’ll add it to the board, which helps me to visualize what’s happening or what’s going to happen. It helps me to visualize the characters or other elements of the world I’m creating. If I’m sharing it all with someone, it helps me to show them what I’m talking about or what I’m attempting to describe.
Sometimes, when all else fails, we need to step away from the laptop. We need to go outside. We need to head to our favorite book store, walk around a local park, or grab some coffee.
When we’re really struggling to tell the story that’s tangled in our thoughts, we just need to remove ourselves from the fantasy we are creating and enjoy our reality. Hang out with friends or do something alone. No matter what you choose to do, you just need to live in the moment. Leave the false realm behind (no matter how real it feels in the moment) and live.
When I do this (mostly because I have to go to work!) I come back to the laptop, sit down, and immediately begin writing. It’s easy to see what’s going on when we’re on the outside sometimes.
So who out there is a writer? What tips do you have for those dealing with writer’s block?