We’ve all been there. The Land of Writer’s Block, that is.
It’s a scary place, full of evil creatures that cackle at you for your ineptitude, and vines that suddenly grow up from the ground to choke the confidence right out of you. A place that leaves you digging in the dirt for gold because you just can’t seem to reach them thar hills in the distance.
In fact, do they even exist?
Yes, they do! And you can get there, I promise. There’s a well of creativity inside of you just waiting to be tapped. You just need the right tools to do it.
Tool #1: Freewriting
Let’s travel back to ENG 101 for a bit. Remember when your teacher would ask you to write whatever you felt like for ten minutes straight? It didn’t have to have a theme or be grammatically correct. The only rule? You had to keep writing, even if all you wrote was “I can’t think of anything to write.” Because, hey, that often leads to waxing philosophic about what you do and do not know about life, right?
If you feel absolutely bone dry and don’t know what to write about, just try some freewriting of your own. You may not use anything produced in that exercise, but it gets the creative juices flowing. And who knows? You may subconsciously stumble across just the thing you need to fix you scene or dream up a plot twist.
Tool #2: Interviewing
Ever feel like you have no idea what your characters would do in a certain situation? Does everything you can think of feel untrue to who they are as people? Well…why not ask them what they’d do? Yep. Rock it like the journalist you are and conduct an interview.
Susan May Warren and the awesome peeps over at My Book Therapy recommend this technique and it works great. Ask your character what motivates her, what lie she believes, what one moment in her past defines her, and what her greatest dream is.
Just don’t be surprised when she answers you. *wink*
Tool #3: Storyworld
When I’m plotting a scene, so often I think about what happens and who is involved. But maybe you’re drawing a complete blank and you don’t know what comes next. Have no fear—storyworld is here to save you! Say what?
Yeah, so you don’t know what happens, but do you know where the scene is set? If not, imagine a creative setting. Then begin to build the storyworld in your head. Ask yourself what it looks like, smells like, feels like, tastes like, and sounds like. Then begin to figure out who is there, what is happening, when and where it’s happening, and why it’s happening.
Tool #4: Your Phone (or Skype)
How does your phone help you brainstorm? Because you can use it to call up a writer bud and talk through your ideas with them.
For my current work in progress, I got on the phone for three hours with my critique partner, Melissa Tagg, and she basically came up with the hook for my story. I was almost there, on the cusp of a great idea, but she came through and helped deliver it to me. Getting someone else’s perspective is just as helpful in the beginning stages of a story as in the revision stage.
So, although you may feel like a permanent citizen in the Land of Writer’s Block, just remember—there is an escape! Use the tools you’ve been given and soon you’ll be livin’ it up in the Hills of Gold.
Your Turn: How do you deal with writer’s block?
Since the age of six, when she wrote the riveting tale “How to Eat Mud Pie,” Lindsay Harrel has passionately engaged the written word as a reader, writer, and editor. She has a bachelor’s in journalism and a master’s in English, and is published in the Falling in Love with You anthology released by OakTara in October 2012. Lindsay lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with her husband of six years and two golden retriever puppies in serious need of training. Connect with her on her blog or via Facebook or Twitter (@LindsayHarrel).