Writer’s block, the point in time when a writer finds themselves with no words to write next, is a topic frequently talked about among authors. There are two camps on the issue: it does exist, it doesn’t exist. It is horrible when a writer is in the middle of it, especially with a deadline looming. You need the story to move forward. The characters to talk to you. You just want word count. You want anything but the last sentence you wrote yesterday, a week, or even a month before to still be the last sentence. (unless of course the sentence was “The End”).
I have a tight writing schedule right now (which I am happy about because that means I have deadlines, better than not having them) so I can’t allow writer’s block control over my time. I have to get the words out. I took some time and realized it’s not so such much there are no words to write but I’m “blocking” the right ones from coming. For me, I’ve found if I do one of the following three things I can get back on track.
Going back a few chapters.
I’m usually a write-straight-through-to-the-end writer. I don’t go back and edit as I write because I’ll get stuck just making changes. I can always find a word I’d like to change or a scene. It’s not productive for me because when I get to the end of the book I know the story and characters better and land up making changes, some major ones, anyway. No matter how much I outline the story always shifts a little. The characters will reveal things about themselves they hid from me earlier.
I’ve found that when the story comes to a screeching halt it’s because I drove the story “off into the ditch”. Either a character behaved in a way that’s contradictory without proper motivation for the change, or a character did something not feasible, or I’ve twisted and turned the plot so much the only way to make it work is through a huge coincidence. I’ve gotten better at listening and heeding the “don’t write anything” voice and go back and fix it. The more I just plow through the words, the bigger the mess and longer it takes to fix it.
Change my writing tool.
When I was writing Safe and Sound, for a reason I still can’t explain, every time I sat down at the computer to type the words refused to come. I’d sit and stare at the screen. I’d type a sentence. Delete it. Type a paragraph. Delete it. Nothing worked. I’d finally get frustrated enough I’d leave the computer to go read or clean something. The moment I was away from the computer the words rushed into my head. I’d grab a notebook and start writing. Before I knew it, hours went by and I had pages and pages of story. I’d then go downstairs and type it all up. The majority of the book was written in notebooks then typed into the computer. That book would only come to life when I put pen to paper.
The blue-screen of death took my laptop away and all I have is my trusty and reliable desktop. I love my nice big office and comfortable office chair, but the portability of my laptop is missed. I could take it anywhere and write. Sometimes I wrote better on the back porch, other times at the kitchen table, or even on the go. I can still write other places with a pen and paper, but like how a book wants to be written by hand, others want the computer. My stories can be a little demanding at times.
If you’re having trouble with your story “talking” to you, see if a change of place or breaking a habit helps get the communication going again.