Ever have writer’s block? Happens to the best of us. Whether you’re just sitting down to begin a new story or trying to finish one up, writer’s block can be a real pain in the butt. Luckily there are ways to overcome this. I use to sit for hours staring at that blinking cursor on my otherwise blank screen. My method for writing consisted of waiting for the words to come to me. This method works for some people, it just wasn’t for me. Although much of the words seemed to fly from my fingertips, they sometimes took their dear sweet time; hours, days, months. Then I took a creative writing class and learned some new techniques. If you can afford it, I suggest enrolling in a creative writing class, but if not here’s some of the best advice that I got from mine.
- When you’re looking for inspiration, take some time to look and listen to the people and things around you. Keep a small notebook handy so you can jot down ideas and things that interest you. Later, when you’re having trouble coming up with things to write, look back through your notebook to see if there’s something you can use. It also doesn’t hurt if you check out some books that are in the same genre you are writing. They may spark some ideas, too. Just be careful not to plagiarize.
- It really helps if you ask yourself a few questions to begin with. Who is this story about? What happens to them? Why? What do they do about it? Then what? You get the picture. Keep going until you’ve decided how your story is going to end. (Find out more about this in Elements of Fiction Writing: Characters & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card)
- Use the answers to these questions to make an outline for your entire story.
- When that task is complete, you can break it down into sections, say chapters or scenes, and make a new mini outline for each one. On a piece of paper or note card start with your first section and set a goal for your main character in this section. Decide what the conflict will be, who it will be with, where it takes place, and how long it will last in the story. Jack M. Bickham, author of Elements of Fiction Writitng: Scene & Structure, also suggests four or more twists and turns for your conflict to take during its playing out.
- After this is done, I like to take a minute and make a list of the major and minor characters. Beside their names, I add a short background for each of them and how they connect to my main character. I also write details about the setting. (If you’re having trouble coming up with character or place names, there are tons of sites with lists of baby names and even sites that have name generators.)
Once this is done, all that is left is to connect the dots. If you’re still having some blockage, don’t worry. Sometimes all it takes is a change of scenery or a short break before you’re back on track. There are a lot of books out there to help you, too. Here is a list of some of the books and websites that I found useful:
- The Write-Brain Workbook: 366 Excercises to Liberate Your Writing
- Elements of Writing series: Scene & Structure, Jack M. Bickham Characters & Viewpoint, Orson Scott Card Beginnings, Middles, & Ends, Nancy Kress Plot, Ansen Dibell