10 February 2017 by Published in: Uncategorized, Writing 5 comments

I am routinely asked by fellow authors how to get over “writer’s block.”

Here are my thoughts, as well as my technique.

First off, there is no writer’s block, at least as far as I can tell. There’s a lack of motivation to do the work, or there’s a problem with the story/pacing/plotting.

If there’s a lack of motivation to write, I’ve shared ideas in the past on how to overcome that. Ask yourself empowering questions, a la “how do I make this the most amazing chapter I’ve ever written, and have a blast doing so?” You’ll get a way different answer than if you ask yourself lousy questions, like “what’s the point?” or “how am I ever going to get this done?”

If there’s a story/pacing/plotting problem, and you’re procrastinating writing because you sense that, solve the problem. I use my outlining technique, where I can see if the arc is right, whether all the characters reconcile, and determine whether the beats and the denouement are suitably cathartic/exciting. Most often when I hear “I have writer’s block” or “I can’t seem to get through this” it’s from someone who claims they dislike outlining because it robs the story of spontaneity. That spontaneity can also result in hitting an impasse, or having a crap story that goes nowhere. I recommend outlining, obviously, because then even if you aren’t all that motivated due to external factors, at least you know where the story is going and what the next chapters should be.

I’m not going to debate pantsing vs. outlining, having written numerous blogs on the topic. Suffice it to say I’ve done my share of both, and have found outlining superior in terms of efficiency. If you wish to hear more of my thoughts on the topic, search this blog for outlining and pantsing and writing a page turner.

There’s my brief note on how to handle writer’s block. Force yourself to think through the story until it’s compelling and demands to be written, and you’ll solve any pacing/plotting issues. Ask yourself empowering questions and you’ll turn your attitude around if you’re feeling blase or unmotivated.

And finally, if all this fails, there’s always tequila. And buying my crap to provide inspiration. Let’s not forget that!

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Comments

  1. Fri 10th Feb 2017 at 7:01 pm

    Thanks for this. Especially the ask better questions than “what’s the point?”

    Reply
  2. Fri 10th Feb 2017 at 8:53 pm

    Thanks for blogging early on about outlining. It’s a far superior way of writing a story with excitement/action/suspense. I’ve used it every time in 5 novellas and two novels. And I’m using it in a non-fiction on healing. And it’s great fun when something comes along in the middle of your amazing outline that was unexpected! Pure joy when the characters start running the show! Thanks always for your ‘gentle’ wisdom!

    Reply
  3. Sat 11th Feb 2017 at 4:25 pm

    I can get blocked outlining as fast as when I’m writing the first draft, so it’s not the solution for everyone. And I’ve thoroughly outlined more books than I’ve pantsed, which is what I’m doing with the current one.

    Now, I’m not really a believer in writer’s block. When I don’t know what to write next, I try Dean Wesley Smith’s method of just writing the next sentence. Then the next one. If that doesn’t work, I pull out a notebook and pour all that whiny stuff out longhand, complaining about my characters and the plot and whatever else I think is responsible for the problem. Eventually, instead of complaints, I get a new idea or six, after which I can go back to the novel.

    Reply
  4. Sun 12th Feb 2017 at 8:58 am

    Russell, thanks as always. Your advice got me back on track.

    Reply

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