I’m no stranger to writer’s block, which at times can feel paralyzing. And stressful. And did I say stressful? I recently finished my seventh novel, and this time around I battled this dreaded affliction with three strategies I’d learned from my previous bouts.
1) It’s important to keep the story moving forward, so when I feel stuck on a scene, or if the creative muscle to write clever dialogue or interesting descriptions just isn’t there, I make placeholders and move on. For example, in my latest novel I used general placeholders such as:
- DESCRIBE RESTAURANT HERE – HAVE IT RUSTIC AND ON THE BEACH
- AVE HER WALK ALONG THE BEACH ALONE AND FEEL SAD
- ADD IN SOME DETAIL HERE ABOUT THEIR PREVIOUS TRIP TOGETHER
Yes, I use all caps. It’s not pretty, but it works because it keeps me focused on the plot. If I’ve learned anything at all about writing novels, it’s how important it is to keep the story moving forward. You can go back and edit later.
2) When I’ve done the above but have no idea where to take the plot next, I go to the gym and bring my phone. I jump on the stationary bike with my Kindle Fire and start watching TV. Inevitably I’m struck by an idea, so I whip out my phone and email myself a note. I’m not sure why exercising helps me so much, but it works every time – and it keeps me in shape. A win-win!
3) When I come up with an idea for something to include at some point in the book, I add it to a document that is literally named “To include at some point.” This is basically an eclectic list of bullet points, but it’s a great way to make sure those bursts of inspiration don’t get lost.
How do you manage writer’s block? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments.
This blog post originally appeared on CreateSpace.com. Reprinted with permission. © 2014 CreateSpace, a DBA of On-Demand Publishing, LLC. All rights reserved.