A short story, by me:
Today, after many, many days of not-writing, I made myself sit down and work on my WIP. But like the last few times I’d done this, I had absolutely nothing to say.
Nothing to add. No idea where to take this story.
I tried to write. Typed a few sentences, erased them, sighed deeply, figuratively banged my head against the wall, and then gave up. It was like trying to start a car that’s out of gas.
So I gave up and pulled out my sketchbook.
Then I was struck with the impulse to try something new. What if I drew this scene instead? So, pretending that I was writing a graphic novel instead of a novel-novel, I sketched out the people, the place, the facial expressions. My drawings were horrible, incomplete. But you know what?
My brain suddenly went what if —- ?
A new idea emerged. A tiny alteration to a scene I’d been in stuck on for a week. That led to something else; a new idea about how my characters relate to each other. Soon I had a whole ‘nother scene spinning in my head, waiting to escape onto paper.
Very tentatively, I pulled out my laptop again and opened my WIP. I lay my fingers softly on the keyboard. I hit a few keys, holding my breath.
I typed one sentence, then another, picking up speed, and then the computer screen faded before my eyes and I found myself in a brand-new bookstore, staring into the faces of my characters, hearing them talk to each other and laugh and –
And 700 words later I’d written two scenes that I was really proud of.
Writer’s Block comes in many shapes and sizes.
Sometimes it’s lack of motivation because you just don’t feel like writing.
Sometimes you want to write but just can’t because you’re stuck; your story literally will not go right no matter how hard you try.
Sometimes it’s a mix, one leads to the other which leads back to the first, a vicious cycle.
So here are four things to remember when you’re facing writer’s block:
- It’s okay to take a break. Writer’s block happens to (pretty much) all writers, and it’s a natural part of the process. Sometimes you need to take a break for half an hour and walk the dog; sometimes you need to take a break for two months and read a bunch of books and chill. Here’s a great blog post that talks about this.
- Don’t give up; don’t let your “break” become a goodbye. Sometimes you’ll sit down at your WIP and get nothing. But the act of sitting down to try to write is good enough. If you keep coming back, your subconscious will keep thinking about this story. Be persistent, because determination and discipline are huge parts of beating writer’s block.
- I’ve found the best way to break free of writer’s block is to change things up. Sometimes it’s writing in a different place, or at a different time, or on paper instead of on the computer. Sometimes it’s writing something else for a while. Sometimes it’s drawing a scene out instead of writing it. Sometimes it’s just doing something new in your normal life that hits you with a moment of inspiration and suddenly you’re back to writing again.
- It will pass. I was a bit concerned when I didn’t write much of anything for week after week after week. But if your facing writer’s block, give yourself room to breathe. Then once you’ve taken a breath, come back and try to write again. It won’t last forever; it will get better. I promise.