This is the eighth post in the Confessions of a New Author series. This series chronicles my adventures of becoming a self-published author, from the very moment I woke up and decided to be an author to when I finally published my debut novel and beyond.
Brain fart. Blank space. Writer’s block. Whatever you call it, it’s the same thing: the moment you get stuck in writing your novel. For whatever reason, you can’t figure out where to go from here. It happens to pretty much all writers, even if they don’t want to admit it. And it’s completely okay. You will get through it!
While writing Finding Paradise, I had repeated writer’s block, even after I rewrote my outline. I came to parts in my novel where I didn’t know what to put next. I mean, I knew what was going to happen next in the story. But how exactly was I going to get there? What exactly were my character’s going to say? Where was I going with this entire scene anyway?
When I first came across writer’s block, I was bound and determined not to let it stop me. So I pushed through it – I kept writing, even if I didn’t like what I was writing. This was a monumental mistake because I wasted hours on pointless scenes and even chapters that were later scrapped because they were just as useless as I thought they were as I was writing them. It was a waste of time and words. All part of the trial and errors of writing the first draft.
So how exactly are you supposed to deal with writer’s block? There’re a few ways, and like all elements of the writing process, it is up to the author to decide if it is the best way for them. What is good for the goose may not be good for the gander (or whatever that expression is).
When writer’s block hits you like a freight train, don’t beat yourself up over it. It happens and it does not reflect in any way on your talent as a writer. Not. At. All. Like I said, it happens to virtually every writer and all it should really show is that you have so much passion for your writing that you want to find the best way to write your story. Don’t let it stop and certainly, don’t give up your dream just because you can’t figure out how to get from Point A to Point B.
TAKE A FEW STEPS BACK
Go back a few pages, or even a few chapters, and re-read what you have written so far. Chances are, you are writing your manuscript in waves over several days, weeks, or months at a time. You might not remember everything you’ve written so far. Reading what you’ve already got down may help spin the hamster wheel in your imagination to figure out where to go next. Sort of a voila! moment.
PINPOINT THE ISSUE
Why exactly are you stuck? Is the dialogue stale? Are your characters acting out of character (for lack of a better expression)? Can’t figure out how to transition to the next act of your story? Do you need to do more research on the back end? Try to figure out why you are stuck in this spot and brainstorm through it. You might need to erase or change a few things in your plot to get through this rut or do a little extra research to get your plot going again.
When all else fails, just get up and walk away. For how long? That’s up to you. Maybe just a coffee and scones break. Maybe a few days. Maybe even for a few weeks. Sometimes, focusing all your attention on your novel uses up everything in you and you just need to take a breather. Take a walk. Go shopping. Turn on the game. Watch a movie. Pick up a book (that’s not your own). Let your mind focus on something else so it clears away from your novel. You might even accidently pick up inspiration for your novel! Once you feel less stressed, sit down and try to work through it again. But don’t rush it! Rushing it will only push you towards a harsher writer’s block, which may lead to giving up completely (which I will cover in the next post).
Just remember: it happens to all writers. You are still a talented author with lots of ideas in you. It just takes time to get it all out on paper. Don’t give up!
Thank you for reading, and keep writing your heart out.