The First Step to Overcoming Writer’s Block

So, you want to write a novel. You’re reading blogs about it. You’ve done some work, but it’s not coming as quickly as you’d like.

Maybe you wrote down the one scene that lit your mind on fire and now you don’t know where to go with it.

Maybe you haven’t even gotten there yet, and all you know is a character. Or a concept. Or just a sweet little line of dialogue.

Maybe you’re sitting there with a blank page and you’re saying to yourself, “Is this what writer’s block feels like?”

Yup. Welcome to the club. It’s okay, though. I’m going to take you through the process and we’ll see if we can’t get you writing again.

This first step is a bit intense. It usually takes a fair bit to get writing after you’ve stalled, and that’s what I’m describing here. After that, it becomes easier and you don’t have to put so much effort in, so don’t think, “Oh no! I have to do this every time?!”

You have to cut out a chunk of time for writing. I don’t just mean set up a Google Calendar goal (though that’s not a terrible idea). I mean say to yourself, “Saturday afternoon (or Thursday evening, or…) I’m going to write and nothing else.” Don’t put a number of minutes or hours on it. Set aside an entire afternoon or evening aside.

For this chunk of time, you are a writer. Do not answer emails. Do not look at Facebook. Do not text or work or anything else.

Now, you may not be productive for every minute of this time, and that’s okay. In fact, in order to get good writing done, you need to have some time to let your mind wander. If you have a whole evening to write, it means there’s nothing at the end for you to be looking forward to or distract you. It’s just you and the page.

Just you and the page… that sounds daunting. Don’t let it be. Your value is not how many words you can get down in an hour. In fact, the sooner you forget about metrics and benchmarks, the sooner you’ll just be able to write. You have all the time in the world here.

There are now three options for you:

  1. You can let your mind wander
  2. You can think about your scene (actively)
  3. You can actually write

Letting your mind wander is useful, but it’s best to prime your daydream time with some structure by thinking actively about your scene.

Remember that bit of dialogue or character we were talking about earlier? Write that down on your blank page. You’re going to turn that into a scene.

If all you have is a bit of dialogue that you like, start thinking about who said it. What sort of voice did they say it in? Who was it to? Was it internal dialogue? If it’s ordinary dialogue, what situation would make it sound strange or exotic? If it’s something extraordinary, what world might it be commonplace in?

If all you have is a character, think about what situation you could put that character to show who they truly are. What does she dream of being one day? What does he think about with a gun to his head? What is her dark secret?

These are all writing prompts, and there are a million blogs you can find to get more of them. Now we’ve primed your imagination with a mold for ideas. Next time we’ll talk about how to guide your daydreaming and make a scene! Stay tuned, and in the meantime leave me a comment so I can hear about your experiences with writer’s block!

Image Credit: Drew Coffman

 

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