I haven’t met a writer yet who can say they’ve written novel after novel unscathed. That they haven’t fought bouts of writer’s block. It hits everyone, though at different times and different lengths. I’ve heard writers say they hit blocks before they start, when they’re trying to draw the lines of their story together. But once they get rolling, the book writes itself. I’ve heard writers say they smooth sail through the beginning and freeze up mid-way, when antes are upped and the conflict is at its peak.
I usually hit the wall around 2/3 of the way through the book. It’s no secret I write plot-driven books vs. character-driven ones. Getting deep into character’s heads and emotions has always been where I have to work harder than I imagine most others do. (Though I don’t know the struggles of others, I can’t say for certain.) I can weave plots that are complex and suspenseful, with twists and turns coming out my ears.
BUT (and that’s a mighty big BUT–no pun intended), once I have all that conflict down, all that thick and interesting plot, my story tends to look like a giant, jumbled mess.
I get 2/3 through the book (about 250 pages), and stop. I hit the wall. How on earth do I sort those threads? How do they straighten and fit together seamlessly? My first response is to come up with something really complex to solve the problem. (Sounds counter-intuitive, doesn’t it?) I guess in my mind, the only way to get myself out of a hole is to keep digging!
It’s taken 3 years, 4 novels and 2 novellas for me to realize that solutions can be simple. But how do you get there?
How do you turn that mess of yarn into something beautiful?
There’s a few things that work for me…maybe they’ll work for someone else out there struggling with the same thing.
1-I switch up radio stations. I was listening to a pre-made playlist on mixpod to write my novellas, but it didn’t seem to work for the world of Crimson Bay.
(Below is the exact playlist I used.)
To get back into the Vampires of Crimson Bay mode, I started listening to a Snow Patrol station on Pandora. I’m going to stay there for awhile because I’m finding that every now and then I get in the right zone and the music and writing both flow.
2-Switch up your positions. If you normally sit at your desk and write (that’s me!), and that’s not working, move to the couch. If that doesn’t work, try standing. Or kneeling. Or walking. (Have you seen those nifty tread desks?)
*That’s not me, by the way.
Last night I got so frustrated working through a scene that I pushed out the chair, moved it out of the way, and kneeled at my desk. It seemed to work just fine, though my knees have rug burn. (Oh, keep the jokes at bay. I know that one was too easy.)
3-Find something to keep your logical brain busy so your creative brain is free to, you know, create! I use this:
It’s one of those little toy ball puzzle thingies that come in Happy Meals. I was mindlessly toying with it one day while writing (Tank had left it on my desk), and found that when I was trying to figure out how to open and close it one-handed, my creativity really flourished.
6-Try hashtagging #1k1hr on twitter. (There’s all kinds of people who are ready to push through 1k words.) If you’ve got someone there with you, pushing you through, you may break through the wall without realizing it. Or write 1k worth of total crap, but hey, you’re writing.
There’s tons of ways to break through writer’s block, and I’m sure every writer you talk to will give you their tips if you ask them. These are mine…and now yours.