Three Ways How I Deal with Writer's Block

For the record, I am not suffering from writer’s block right now. I have made a decision not to write for a little while. My brain will know when I am ready to write again. I suspect it won’t be long.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share three of my sure-fire cures for writer’s block.

1 – Always have something else in the hopper.

When I’m working on a major WIP, I always have a couple of shorter works in progress at the same time. Right now, I’m working on a time travel historical and a prehistoric fantasy romance. I also have another Petroleum Sunset story that is almost finished. If I am stuck on one, I can always pick up another and keep moving forward.

If you aren’t the type to write short works, then go ahead and use another novel for your writer’s block project. It should be a novel unrelated to the one you are working on. You don’t want to have to revise your first work because of changes to the second. It should also be one that is behind your current work in your publishing priorities. You don’t want to forever be trying to devote equal time to both books. That’s a good way to never finish either.

2 – Go on a date with your character.

Sometimes, you just need to take your character out of the plot and have them take a thoughtful walk around town. Or send them on a side quest. Or have a premature romantic interlude. All of these have worked for me. Of the three, the side quest was the only thing that ended up in my discards files, so it wasn’t wasted time writing. But when I write such scenes — longterm readers know I call these pilot scenes — I am prepared to discard them. It really helps.

The point is, sometimes you just don’t know your character well enough for the story to really flow. And that’s when a date with your character can really help.

3 – May as well tackle that synopsis.

Sometimes, your story is just too much of a mess to go on. If you are feeling muddled with your plot, unsure of where to take it, it’s an excellent time to take a step back and write a synopsis. Use my six paragraph method if synopses scare you.

Or, you can work on your story bible, (I call it my gazetteer). Sometimes you just need to organize the danged story before you can tell it. Some people use index cards. (I don’t–I label my scenes using Microsoft Word styles and arrange them with theΒ  Navigation pane.)

Any of these methods can help you take that important step back–which in turn will (somewhat ironically) allow you to take a closer look at the story and fix that troublesome spot that is impeding your progress.

12 Thoughts to “Three Ways How I Deal with Writer's Block”

  1. Chicory

    I’m glad you know yourself well enough to know when you need to step back from writing and give yourself a bit of space. That can be a hard decision.

    I love your writer’s-block tips. I already have a tendency to keep several stories going (though your point about prioritizing them is well made. That’s something I have a real problem with.) I haven’t really tried taking people out of my plot, though. it could be fun. πŸ™‚

    I have a problem with world-building notes, where I change the world but forget to update my notes file, which makes it a great place to noodle out ideas, but not so good for actually looking up information. Does that ever happen to anyone else, or is it just me?

    1. Tia Nevitt

      My gazetteer is ALWAYS out of date. It’s definitely not just you! But it is mostly useful for keeping track of things like who is related to who, the color of someone’s eyes, and backstory.

      And no, I don’t always no when to take that step back. Sometimes, I make a real mess before I recognize that!

    2. I often forget to update the background information I try to keep track of. It’s somewhat useful anyway. If I can find information in that collection, it’s usually accuarate. The problem is the information that is down somewhere else, but not in the background information at the present time. {rueful smile}

      Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

      1. Tia Nevitt

        I do have to remind myself to keep track of such things. Sometimes it’s scrawled in a notebook, and I have to figure out WHICH notebook!

        1. I keep my background information in notebooks so it can travel at least as well as the first drafts of the stories it’s about. Those tend to be in notebooks so I’m not tied to my computer when I’m writing.

          For me, the problem is when i mention something in a story, and forget to add it elsewhere. That’s when it’s hard to track down for me: when it’s in a story. Especially when I’m not exactly sure which story it’s in. That’s happened… entirely too often. {rueful smile}

          Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  2. Getting up and moving around also helps. Sometimes when the words aren’t flowing, I take a walk or do dishes or fold laundry. The repetitive action helps my mental wheels turn.

    1. Tia Nevitt

      An infusion of oxygen! Great idea! πŸ™‚

      1. Chicory

        As long as you don’t get shanghied by someone needing something! πŸ™‚

    2. I’ve tried to do the same while playing games, but your way sounds a lot more useful. Between chores, exercise, and stories, you’re sure to get something useful done, whether it’s all you hoped for, or just some of it. {SMILE}

      Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  3. I try to keep myself busy with research or edits or anything if I can’t focus on the current project.

    1. Chicory

      That’s smart. That way you’re always productive, even if you’re stuck.

    2. Tia Nevitt

      And sometimes those bits of research bear unexpected fruit!

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