Most people, whether they’re writers or not, have heard of the phrase, “Writer’s Block.”
For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, the basic gist is writer wants to write but nothing comes out. And if something does manage to leak out, it’s more often than not complete trash. AND, if a writer has the block for long enough, seppuku becomes an attractive option. Personally, I’d go with power drill lobotomy because from what I understand, gut wounds fuckin’ hurt.
I was struck by the dreaded block last week writing the drafts for chapters three and four (hence the missing/late blog post). The first two chapters were the easiest. I slaved over them both for months before I began my “Stephen King Challenge.” To rewrite them for the first draft was a joy.
Then came chapters three (the real bitch) and four. I had a basic idea of what would happen after the intro chapters. The more I read what I wrote for these chapters, the more I hated it. It’s a classic pattern for me when I hit the block.
Stage One: Deer caught in the headlights. (“Okay…what’s next?”)
Stage Two: Anxiety
Stage Three: Boredom
Stage Four: Hatred
Stage Five: Despair (This stage is quite dangerous for my work, as I’ve done things like literally set notebooks on fire, throw things in the trash only to sift through it a few hours later, etc. I’ve also thrown a laptop into a lake. May I advise all writers to keep multiple backups? If you’re a loon like myself, give copies to friends so they can hide them from you.)
The cures for Writer’s Block are quite simple. I don’t understand why everyone wets themselves over finding a solution.
- Talk it out: With yourself, with family/friends, whoever supports your writing. This is my go-to cure for the block. Say your issues out loud. Supporters will almost always point out a simple solution to your troubles. Mostly because they haven’t been pulling their hair out over said troubles. They see it fresh, in a way you can’t.
- Research: This helps, especially if you’re creating an original world/universe/planet. Do some research about, oh I don’t know, FTL space travel if you’re working on a space opera or maybe different planet types. Look up different cultures, religions, animals, everything. Even if you don’t end up using it, you might find something inspiring along the way.
- Play Games/Read Books/Watch TV or Movies of your chosen genre: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rushed out from a movie to scribble notes on a bench outside of the theater. I’m not talking about flat out taking ideas and plots, but there’s no harm in borrowing an element or feeling. One example for myself was I didn’t think one could pull off a goofy bit in a serious, final boss sort of fight and still keep a serious tone. I saw Guardians of the Galaxy and the infamous dance off at the end. It totally worked and inspired me to add a similar scene for another story I’m working on.
- Music: Music is a huge factor in my writing. If I’m stuck on something, all I need to do is find a song that evokes the feelings I’m searching for. Lyrics can inspire as well.
- Jump ahead: Of course your shit is boring. You’ve read it a thousand times. Come back to the problem scene/chapter later, no one is holding a gun to your head saying you have to work chronologically. Skip ahead.
- Work on something else: Write a short story about your characters before the events of the actual story. Write a diary entry or a letter. Writing prompts are lovely for this.
- Take a fucking break: Go outside. There’s a whole world out there, you know. Your story will be there when you come back. Talk to strangers. Yes, strangers. Y’all trust Uber, you can safely talk to the stranger at the coffee shop without fear.
Chapters five and six should come easy for me. Here’s hoping.