16 February 2011

Writer's Block:
When the Action Stops

Methods to Fight Writers Block
I am always curious when people talk about writer's block. I haven't had much of a struggle with this and that is why I would like to share my methods. Despite my love for the craft of writing, I have come to stalemates with my story progression that I have labeled writer's block.

This occurs when I reach a finite goal within the writing project. The characters arrive at certain geographic location or a minor sub-villain is killed off, etc. The writing has reached a recognizable stopping point and that's just what happens, it stops. In order to continue, the story has to be "restarted."

Outlines Help Fight Writers Block
Getting through this is as simple as recognizing what has happened. You have completed an action. You are not in the middle of something anymore. The characters and the storyline need a push. They need a reason to take the next step or they simply need to take it. If you have done an outline -and I certainly hope you have- then you know where you want them to wind up later on in the work.

If you have not done an outline then you might already have the answer to your writer's block. More on that in another post.

Move Forward to Fight Writers Block
Take a look at where the characters, the action or the plot line needs to go next. Do the characters pick up their bags and continue walking? Can you now skip ahead in time and describe them arriving at the next city? Is it time to move to the next day or the next important event? Such places in your manuscript/piece are good places to skip ahead. No transition is needed. Simply describe where they are next. Of course, this works best as the start of a new chapter. It also avoids writing that lacks relevant action, which editors might ask you to drop anyway.

I will write more on writer's block later. For now the tip is; recognize why you have stopped. Did you complete a finite action? It's likely.

Take a look at where the characters need to be next in the plot. What's the next interesting interaction? What is the next location? If they are in the same location, then move them forward in time to the next event. Put them there and tell your reader what they're doing. It should be something you intended to tell your reader anyway. The desire to describe this next event to your audience should pull you right out of your writer's block.

Writers Block Overview
Overview: Recognize that you have completed a finite action. Move to the next event in your plot.

I hope this has been helpful. I will write more on writer's block later.
I will cover these points:
  • I don't know what happens next
  • The next action is not that interesting to me
  • The story has changed and the next part doesn't fit
  • I know where I want to go but don't know how to get there
  • I'm running out of time (dangerous writer's block terrain)
  • I don't feel like writing

You can always visit www.write4writers.com for more writing advice from the team at Palm Harbor School of the Novel.

Feel free to post comments on your personal writer's block.

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