Lyla Campbell

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.
6 Responses
  1. moonduster Says:

    Oh my goodness! The title of this post is a phrase I thought up a few years back and put on t-shirts and other gift stuff in my shop! LOL!
    Here it is:

    I used to let writer's block keep me from writing. And a lot of it was just me thinking I wasn't really good enough so why bother.

    NaNoWriMo helped me get past that though. I just write even if I'm feeling blocked now, and even if I have to go back and delete entire sections, I keep going. It keeps my mind churning out new ideas and keeps me from getting truly stuck.

  2. I am one of those that doesn't really believe in the traditional 'writer's block' but I agree, sometimes I get stuck in the plot. What I do is skip to a chapter that I know will be in the book but is more dear to my heart. Also, I write at night, I guess that's when I'm most creative but I ruminate the chapter in my mind during the day to get in the 'zone.'


  3. Rochelle Says:

    NaNoWriMo 2009 helped me get over the idea that I couldn't write a novel - I did it! But I've been postponing revision until - this Monday - I swear I will begin this Monday!

    Happy New Year!

  4. I read this post with amusement as I've JUST blogged on the same subject. It's interesting to see how different people approach the problem.

    A good post. Well done.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Happy New Year!

    There are two things I do to avoid writer's block. The fist is writing all my first drafts in a notebook, as I find the physicality of writing by hand (something lost for me on a computer) helps keep me present and engaged in the process.

    The second thing I do is talk about whatever I'm having trouble with. I have a specific person to talk to--just someone who will listen to my problem, help talk me through it, maybe come up with a few good ideas I can use. And, of course, I help him out when he's stuck. So in my opinion, having a bff writing buddy is the best way to keep writer's block away.

  6. Writers block for me is less a matter of having no clue how to move the story along as it is a matter of not liking any of several options that I can see (or liking ALL of them equally). So, what I do is scribble a few short notes about my options and then take off on one of them for a page or two. If I like it, I keep going. Otherwise I back track and begin working on one of the other options.

    From this point, the problem is not 'block' ... it's 'flood'. In a very short time I'll have ideas for story lines for a half-dozen titles. I'd love to follow them all, but there is only one me.

    One of these days, let me tell you about the steel-toed rats.

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