How Do You Handle Writer's Block
That's a question on the GoodReads Author Page that I answered for my page. I thought it might be helpful for writers here, so I'm adding it as a blog post. I hope folks find it useful!
When I first start writing a book, I try to preemptively stop writer’s block before it takes hold by creating a really detailed outline of the book. All the big moments and some of the minor moments that HAVE to occur in order for the story to move forward and make sense. I do try to make this as detailed as possible, using bullet points to list all the salient bits of information that need to be included.
There are a lot of writers who worry that writing detailed outlines will take the spontaneity out of the story, but for me, it’s the opposite. The outline provides me with the details that I have to ensure are conveyed. The challenge is to find a unique and creative way to impart those details. I feel like having the outline helps me cover all my bases so I can spend MORE of my energy on being creative in my writing expression, and less on the technical aspects of did I cover x, y, and z so Chapter 15 makes sense.
Another way I battle writer’s block is to identify exactly why I’m having it. Am I stuck on a particular scene or chapter because of its content? Does it bore me? Confuse me? If I can identify a problem I’m having with the scene, I can solve the block by either reworking or cutting the scene. My basic rule of thumb is if a scene bores me writing it, then it’s going to bore the readers and I need to cut or rework it.
On a micro-level, I try to end a writing session in the middle of a sentence so I always have an easy place to pick back up when I return for my next writing session. On a related note, I also try to avoid doing research while I’m writing. If there’s something I don’t know that is needed, I’ll put the info in [brackets] and in red so it stands out to remind me to look it up. This stops me from going down the rabbit hole and creating my own writer’s block.
Finally, I don’t have an issue giving in to a writer’s block. Sometimes, a block is there because you need to chew on something a bit longer. Something or someone is unresolved in whatever you’re trying to create and sometimes you just need some time to work it out. You can garden, or knit, or ride motorcycles, or practice archery. I often read or do research or go fossil hunting to clear my brain and hit refresh.
In general, I think identifying the reason for the block is a big part of overcoming it. Do you need a break? Is there an issue with the scene or character? Is your brain tired? It’s important to distinguish if there’s a real reason for it, or if you’re simply procrastinating, in which case it’s really up to your implementation of will power to muscle past that block.