In keeping with the resolution I gave myself to post more regularly, here's the first new post of the year:
We have all been there. You're chugging along, pumping out word count at a steady pace, then...WHAM! You're stopped dead in your tracks, all the momentum your plot had going is now gone. And to make matters worse, you have a bump on your nose from slamming face first in to the brick wall known as writer's block.
After you recover from the impact, you're left wondering "What next?" But the answer doesn't come. You might get up to stretch your legs, rummage through the fridge for a snack or watch some mindless TV in an effort to hit the refresh button in your head. Still, when you return to the page there's nothing but a big blank to draw on.
I have heard some people say "Writer's Block doesn't exist, it's all in your head." My response to that is "RUBBISH!" Sure, there's always this direction or that direction where you could take the story line. But that doesn't mean that you like what you put down on the page. And most of the writer's I know take the plot path that makes them happy.
Whether you believe writer's block is real or not, it's still frustrating as hell trying to get around a sticky spot in your plot. My favorite way to clear the fog out of my head is to narrate the story out loud to myself. I start from the beginning of the scene where I am stuck and if necessary, go back a little farther than that. Many times hearing the story told will shed a different light on it. I'm a fan of talking to myself. So I find this method is particularly effective.
Or, if you're slightly afraid of looking like a crazy person, rambling on and on and on to yourself, use a friend as a sounding board. Give them a brief rundown of the scene and then brainstorm ideas for where to take it next. This is why joining a local writing group can be very helpful.
If after all your efforts you're still sinking in mental quicksand, skip to another part of the story. Spinning your wheels on a spot where you're stuck doesn't help. Work on other scenes or on other projects for about a week and come back to it with fresh eyes. Often times writer's block is a symptom of burn out and is your brains way of telling you to take a break.
So what do you do when all the steam is let out of your story? I'd love to hear how you deal with writer's block.