I’m here to tell you that I don’t like the word block. It’s scary. That word suggests that I’m all blocked up and words can’t come out of me. OMG! I can’t even imagine such a thing. I’m not just a writer but also a talker. Words are my thing.
I believe all writers get stuck. Yes, they reach a place either before they begin that novel or somewhere in the middle (that’s usually where it happens to me) where they’re not sure what to do next. The word is stuck and it’s temporary.
I also believe that no matter who you are at some point you run out of “writing” steam. No, JD Salinger didn’t run out of steam after writing A Catcher in the Rye. He just decided not to publish anymore. Apparently he’s been writing like a fend since his first book. Why he doesn’t want to publish what he’s written is his business. Margaret Mitchell didn’t publish anything else after Gone with the Wind. Why? Maybe it had something to do with her sick husband. They worked very much as a team to create Gone with the Wind. Just maybe? As for most people, we often have more than one book in us. I’m not sure we have twenty because after a while all of them begin to sound the same. The character, the plots, the twists are redundant from previous works (I’m sorry Agatha Christie, but it’s true). Is that writer’s block? No, that’s the natural progress of people trying to do too much of the same thing.
Here are my suggestions for writers who might be stuck. This applies to those writers who aren’t writing their twentieth mystery, but to those still working on their fourth or fifth story:
- If you get stuck, do something really different. Go at the story backwards or upside down. See where that takes you. At least you’ll be writing even if you never use what you wrote.
- If you get stuck in the middle of a story, add a new character. Okay, I hear you screaming: “No! We aren’t supposed to add characters in the middle of the book!” I say add the character and allow that character to get you writing again. You can always insert him or her earlier in your next revision or save him for your next book.
- If you get stuck on a plot point, get away from the story. Go do something like run a marathon, swim a mile, walk in the woods, go to dinner with your spouse. Anything that gets your mind off the story. When you come back, trust me, you’ll have a Eureka moment.
Here are my suggestions for writers who have written a zillion books and they all start to sound the same:
- Keep doing it for the bucks. Okay, who’d ever tell you not to keep writing if people still want to read your books? Not me!
- Write something you’ve never tried to write before–a screen play, a poem. a TV ad. Anything that will get you out of the rut. The best writers move out of their genres. They do that so they can stay fresh. Later when they go back to their genres, the books are exciting, new, different, better. What they wrote out of their genre might not be as good, but who cares, writing it helped them move to that next level.
- Start a blog for writers (we’d love that) and get motivated again!
Nope, in my opinion there’s no such thing as writer’s block. But writers do get stuck and for good reasons.
Check out this short video blog where I talk about my experiences with Writer’s Block.