Hi friends. I received a question from Rhema Joy recently on writer’s block. I replied to her directly, but it seems a lot of the aspiring writers who read my blah-g struggle with this so I’m elaborating to pass on what I know about getting the ball rolling and words flowing when you’re feeling stuck.
Here’s what Rhema said:
I’ve been reading your books since I was eight or nine. I’m now fourteen and I love writing. I have a question though… more like a problem. I’ll have these amazing characters and plots and ideas; I’ll write bit, get writers block &and never finish it! It’s a sick cycle I’ve been on since I first started writing at age seven! Any ideas as to what’s my problem and how to fix it? Thank you x
1) The truth about writer’s block
Okay, Rhema, here goes: First, I don’t believe in writer’s block. There. I said. People give a lot of power to this term, but what I believe happens when they say they have writer’s block is that they simply are not interested enough in what they’re writing, or they haven’t given enough thought to where they want the story to go. I’m a huge supporter of OUTLINING first, as I’ve mentioned here on the blah-g. The outline can and will change, but you’ve got to give yourself a route to travel while writing, otherwise you’ll never make it to the final act. Some writers say they simply sit down and let it all flow out naturally, then edit later. It’s a very small percentage of writers who can successfully do that, and while you’re honing your craft I suggest you try to work from outlines first. Practice. Then be among that small percentage when you’ve developed the writing chops.
2) Give yourself a break
Got an outline and you’re still feeling stumped? Take a hike. Or a walk. Or just step away from your story for an afternoon and get some fresh air and eyes for the next time you sit down in front of your draft. Sometimes we think we have to dedicate every waking moment to our novel in order to get it done, but that isn’t always realistic or helpful to everyone’s process. Sitting in front of your story day after day can make it feel stale and cause you to lose inspiration and steam. Keep your perspective sharp by giving your draft some space when needed.
3) Don’t get too attached
Maybe that scene you had your heart set on writing simply doesn’t advance the plot. Cut it. Try something new. Don’t get bogged down by events or details that don’t drive the story forward. Remember, you are the ultimate creator of your fictional world. Your characters will tell you where they want to go, but you decide their fate.
4) Be imperfect
Avoid perfecting your early drafts. Your first, second, third, etc. drafts aren’t there to be pristine. They’re there to get down the story in all its gruesome form. Get the words down on paper and give yourself something to come back to and edit. You’ll never make it to the end if you keep stopping to fix details along the way. Trust me, I know this one from experience. Get the story down first, then polish it to perfection in your final drafting stage.
Rhema and all the other young writers reading this, I hope those tips help! If you have any advice to add, let us know in the comments section.