The hero is just about to triumph. He’s made his way to the villain’s hideout. His army marches behind him.
But the villain lurks in the shadows, ready to attack.
As Admiral Ackbar would say, “It’s a trap!”
The same thing also happens to us writers. Everything is going splendidly. We got good feedback on our short story, we just wrote two thousand words, and on top of that, we fixed a major plot hole.
We sit down to write the next day and we smack into an immovable wall. There’s no way over, under, or around it.
Everyone faces obstacles. Think of any story. The heroes always face setbacks–betrayals, oversights, mistakes, arguments, despair, etc.
Writing is no different.
But guess what? In stories, the heroes always triumph (there are some exceptions, but just bear with me). It takes grit, determination, and a little bit of luck, but they win the battle at the end of the day.
Sometimes the very obstacles that threatened to destroy them become their tools to victory.
So, when you’re facing writer’s block, what should you do to find your own happy ending?
Talk it out
There’s nothing quite like talking to solve a problem. Sometimes all it takes to get around a roadblock is putting the problem into words.
I distinctly remember one time I was really stuck with my old WIP, Checkmate. I had killed a character and I had no idea what to do. I asked an author for advice and she suggested talking to my brother and asking for his opinion.
During dishes one night, I outlined my whole problem. I told him everyone’s names, heritage, feuds, and a thousand other details. He stared at me, then he asked, “So, what’s your problem?”
Once I narrowed down my issue down to, “I killed this character and I don’t know who should take his place,” my brother was able to give me some ideas that I wound up using.
When we’re stuck in writer’s block, we can “miss the forest for the trees.” Sometimes simplifying your issues is the key to solving the problem.
So talk your problems out. Call a friend. Ask your siblings. And hey, talking to your dog works too!
Listen to music
I always listen to music while I’m writing. Sometimes, I listen to songs with lyrics, but I have a fondness for soundtracks.
You know those scores they play in the background of epic battle scenes? Or those classic themes like the opening of Star Wars?
Those are my favorites. Whenever I listen to them, it makes me feel triumphant.
When I really don’t want to work on a school assignment, I’ll turn on some “epic” music. It inspires me.
The hero triumphed while this music was playing, so why can’t you?
Write by hand
Okay, I’ll admit it, I write everything possible by hand. The one exception is nonfiction. I cannot stand to write nonfiction by hand. XD
But writing by hand forces me to slow down and choose my words intentionally. And notebooks and legal pads don’t have internet access. 😉
Another benefit I’ve found to writing by hand is it prevents me from sharing what I’ve written before it is ready. If I share a project too early, I lose motivation to finish it.
Next time you’re stuck, try pulling out a pad of paper and writing that problematic scene out by hand.
Write out someone else’s scene
I did this a long time ago, but I want to try it again.
I’ve heard multiple people say that when they are having trouble writing, they’ll grab a book off their shelves, open it to a random page, and just start typing the words.
When I did it, I took a scene from a movie I had recently watched. I wrote down the dialogue and basic actions, then wrote the rest of the scene out from memory.
This exercise helps you write without having to come up with something entirely from scratch. Try writing the scene from a different perspective. If it’s mainly from the hero’s point-of-view, try writing it from the villain’s.
Set a timer
I find it very hard to write if I know I have all afternoon at my disposal. But when I know I only have ten minutes before lights out, I can get words on the page.
When you’re stuck, try limiting your writing time. Maybe you can only write during your lunch break or while your little brother is at music lessons.
Set a timer for however long you have and stick to it. When time’s up, stop writing. Even if you’re in the middle of a scene.
I love to “word sprint” with other people. If you’ve never done it, you just ask someone to write with you for a set amount of time. I usually do this via text or social media.
I find it extremely helpful because once time is up, I have to report to my friend what I actually accomplished, including all the times I got distracted by the internet. That helps me to remain focused.
You are going to face writer’s block at some point in your writing journey. It might only be for a day or it might be months, but you can conquer it!
Have you tried any of my strategies? Which ones are you most interested in trying? What do you do when you are facing writer’s block?