You sit in your desk chair, facing the blank word processing document and stare at the blinking cursor. You have no idea what to write next. You’re stuck. You don’t know what to do. You look at the time. It’s been half an hour and there’s still no progress. You start to run around the room, waving your arms and screaming at the top of your lungs until you pass out and, temporarily, your problem is gone. Welcome to writer’s block. Wait, what do you mean you don’t do that last part? That’s just me?
Alright, writer’s block. How to deal with it. I’m not sure what most people’s experience with it is, but in my case there’s two types of block.
- You don’t have an idea.
- You have too many ideas.
The second case is the easier problem to tackle, so let’s talk about that first. You’re facing this problem when you are writing a scene and wondering where to take this scene towards and can’t quite decide. This is usually the one I encounter the most. The solution I feel works best is to plot out what would happen if the scene goes a certain way. Do it for all the possibilities you have thought up. And if you happen to have an outline, check it against the outline, see how it affects your story. If it has a huge effect on it, figure out which one is better, your outline or the new path you’re heading towards.
And if you’re still stuck, get a fresh perspective on it. Ask someone about it. Your family, your friends, anyone. They don’t have to be writers, they just have to know which one is more interesting. Would be ideal if they like the genre you’re writing in.
And if you still can’t figure it out, pick one at random and write the story until you finish it. Let it rest for a month or two, and then come back to it. You’ll be able to spot if it works or not. If it doesn’t, you can always fix it in revision.
And now, the first problem. This one is difficult. I don’t usually draw blanks when I’m writing, since I usually have it plotted out in advance. My problem usually comes in the plotting process, which isn’t as agonizing because I’m usually writing one novel while I’m plotting another one, so I take my sweet time with it and just add new ideas to the plot when it comes to me. AGK is kind of an exception, because I was so stoked about the initial idea that I started writing it before the detailed outline was finished.
My advice for dealing with this is to actually put the writing down. Let it rest. Staring it down isn’t going to help you. So instead, spend some time doing other stuff. Reading, taking a nice bath, playing video games, listening to podcasts, work on another novel’s plot. And sometimes, while doing this, you might be able to break that wall down and figure out how to continue your story.
If you still want to try to force through it, I’d recommend writing whatever comes to mind at the moment. Write about what you think the problem is. Maybe it’s a previous scene, or the few chapters beforehand that made it impossible to continue. Maybe you already know that and you’re just forcing yourself along because you don’t want to kill off those scenes because they were your favorite. Putting your thoughts down into words can help give you a better understanding of the issue.
I hope this helps you tackle writer’s block, now go kick its ass. Happy writing!