If you’ve been a writer for any long period of time, you know about the infamous writer’s block. You know this foul beast manifests if many different forms, and strikes when you least expect.
It’s a shape-shifter, changing its dark shape into different beasts.
For example, there’s “I don’t have any time to write,” writer’s block. Or the “I want to write but I end up just staring at a blank screen” type of block. Or the “every time I sit down to write, Facebook magically opens and I get sucked into a black hole of puppy videos and political posts.” I’m also well acquainted with the “I don’t like this book anymore” block, or the “My characters won’t talk to me” writer’s block, or even “There’s not enough tension,” writer’s block.
But for me, I’ve found that the monster most often rears its ugly head in this form: “I don’t know how to write this scene that I’m working on.” I’ll get trapped in this one chapter or this one plot point and feel like I HAVE TO WRITE THIS SCENE BEFORE I CAN MOVE ON.
This form of writer’s block usually makes me feel like I can’t write. It’s debilitating. For some forms of writer’s block, the solution is to take some time off, take a shower, go for a walk, read a book, etc. But for this type of writer’s block, I’ve found the most helpful thing for me is to write around the block. Sometimes I can power through, and write the scene anyways – like once I laboriously start typing a few sentences, I find I can type a few more. More often, however, I’ve found it’s easier to just start a new scene. Skip the troublesome one and come back to it later.
If I have no idea what’s happening in this chapter, but I can perfectly visualize a scene from next chapter, it’s a lot more time efficient to write that NEXT SCENE.
Don’t spend days or weeks not-writing just because you can’t fix one scene. Move on, write something else, and come back.
Other tricks to try if you’re stuck on a particular scene:
- Talk it out with a friend. Usually just talking it out will help clear your head, even if your friend is super confused about what you’re telling them.
- If you don’t have a friend readily available, try discussing the problem with your dog. Or you can even try turning on your phone’s voice recorder and just talking about it aloud to your phone.
- Try writing it longhand instead of typed. (Or vice versa if you normally handwrite your story.)
- Make a list of things that could happen in that scene. Start with what you think is going to happen, and add in some unexpected. Then pick your favorite parts and try writing from there.
Hope this helps! I’d love to hear your thoughts on writer’s block and its different forms. Also, if you have any tried-and-true methods of getting around it, leave them in comments below!