So writer’s block is a problem that all writers experience, every single one of us. At some point in the process, you have to stop yourself and think, “Where the fuck am I supposed to go next?” And this isn’t just in the drafting phase- It also happens during outlining and editing. In fact, writer’s block can surface in just about any phase in the writing process. I’m going to go over my personal solutions to writer’s block in the outlining, drafting, and editing phases of the writing process.
When you’re brainstorming and outlining an idea for a story and writer’s block shows up, there’s two different ways this can go. If you have multiple project ideas, my advice to you is set it down for now and work on something else. I’m not saying to put it away for ever- Probably no longer than a month, in fact. But I’ve found my best scene ideas, solutions, etc., for a book, especially one I’m not actively focused on, happens when I’m just doing everyday things. However, if the solution doesn’t come within a month, and the project is something you prioritize, you should probably start actively working on it again.
But what happens if you don’t have multiple project ideas? What if this is the only thing you’re working on for now? Don’t panic. There’s plenty more things to do. And, for the record, all of these solutions would work the same if you have multiple ideas. So if you’re putting all of your heart and soul into an idea that just isn’t cooperating, my go to would be to consult sources of inspiration. My personal source of inspiration is skateboarding. I go outside and listen to music while either thinking about my book, or thinking about anything but my book. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but I’ve created some of my most pivotal scenes with this method. So go find your source of inspiration and see what it can give you.
If that doesn’t work, then I’d try reading through what you already have. Go back through your outline and see everything you’ve done so far. This helps you notice all the things you’re forgetting about, things that need to be expanded, things that maybe need to be taken down a bit- Maybe you’ve created a plot hole and didn’t even notice, and that’s what’s causing the block.
My last tip for the outlining phase is to decide on your end goal. Whether it’s the end of the scene, the chapter, or the entire goddamn book, knowing where you’re going and why is a great way to kick writer’s block. How are you supposed to get from A to Z if you don’t know what Z is? In my opinion, even pantsers should have an at least vague end goal in mind. Not to mention, this will make editing easier for you.
Now, most people run into writer’s block in the drafting phase more than anything else. The good news is, this is one of the easiest things to fix. This can also go two ways.
If you are a planner, my first piece of advice to you is to write anyway. If you already have your story outlined, then there’s a large chance the block is coming from a place of insecurity, or a lack of inspiration. After a minute or two of forcing your fingers on the keyboard and awkward phrasing, the words will start to feel natural again. Take it from me- The first paragraph of this post was torture.
In addition, if you’re having insecurities or a lack of inspiration, why don’t you find out why? Insecurities and lack of inspiration are both a normal and common part of the writing process, but that doesn’t mean they’re always just. Sometimes they have a reason, and sometimes they don’t. But if it’s completely obvious why you’re feeling this way, don’t just sit in it.
If it isn’t insecurities or a lack of inspiration that’s causing the block, go back through your outline. Maybe it isn’t fleshed out enough for you, or there’s a problem with it. Whatever the problem may be, going back to the main source could be enough to fix it.
Lastly for the planner, fix overbearing issues. Sometimes you’re writing a manuscript and notice a couple problems that you didn’t catch in outlining, but, no big deal, you can just write with that in mind now and fix it in the editing phase. Which is good for a while, but sometimes these problems can build onto each other until they’re all tangled together and stunting the manuscript’s growth. If you’re experiencing writer’s block and know you have a few plot holes or inconsistent characters, go through and fix that shit. It’s calling drafting for a reason.
If you’re a pantser, then the advice really isn’t changed all that much. Most of the solutions are still the same, you just don’t have an outline to look back over. My first suggestion would be just that- Create an outline. Specifically, a comprehensive outline. You could do it in five minutes. All it is is a list of the scenes you have in mind, particularly key scenes and turning points, listed in the correct order. They’re often vaguely labeled and if there’s any detail to it, it’s at a minimal. You won’t feel restricted, but you’ll know where you’re headed to each time.
This pools right into my next tip- Decide on your end goal. I’ll go ahead and skip this since I already went over it.
Finally, the editing phase. I have two tips for the editing phase, whether you have multiple project ideas or not. First off, make this into a side project. Especially if most of your editing is out of the way and you’re just doing light edits, you can do this while you draft a new project. In fact, that might just save your sanity. And if you can’t or don’t want to start a new project: Do it anyway. You aren’t going to like every aspect of the writing process and not every phase will be your favourite. If you want to get this story done, you’ll edit it anyway.
That’s all for today, thanks for putting up with my very long and very unannounced break. I’ll post more consistently for now on! There should be a new blog post every Friday, so why not subscribe to my website? It’ll notify you by email each time a new blog post comes out.
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