Tackling Writer's Block

Ah, writer's block, the infamous hurdle all writers will face many, many times during their lives. As someone who frequently finds themselves in this I-want-to-pull-my-hair-out state, I’ve longed for the answer I imagine many of you are seeking: how do I get rid of writer’s block?

After many years of searching, I’m sorry to tell you there is no magical answer. But there are things you can do to tackle it. This blog post will cover some of the tricks I personally use when I find myself in a rut, eager to write but unable to get those words down. Hopefully, some of these end up working for you too!

Is it Writer's Block?

Firstly (and most importantly), it’s a good idea to try and identify if what you're feeling is, in fact, writers block.

Sometimes you’re simply too exhausted, sick, or burnt out to write, and that’s okay. The best thing to do here is take a break. Get some distance, and, if you really need to be doing something, do things you enjoy to refill your creative well! Listen to music, play a video game, read/listen to an audiobook, watch your favourite TV show etc. These things likely inspired you to begin with, and will do so whilst you’re resting! I’d also suggest trying to switch off from social media, as this contributes to a lot of my burn outs – getting some distance and just taking care of yourself is so important. It’s easy to worry you’re ‘wasting’ writing time if you’re not working on your craft, but in the end, you’ll save time by coming back at it rested, inspired and likely way more productive than you would have been if you’d tried to force it.

"Getting some distance and just taking care of yourself is so important."

Now, if it is writers block (e.g., you are raring to go, you just wanna write, but you end up staring at a blank page or rewriting the same sentence 10x….) then here's what I do to get unstuck!

1. Step away from the computer...

...grab a notebook and a pen, and write down the following:

  • WHO (who is the main POV character of the scene)

  • WHERE (where does it take place)

  • WHEN (if you have a timeline/if this is important)

  • WHAT (what you want the scene to accomplish – this ideally should be something which moves either the plot and/or your characters development forward – and what your character’s goal in the scene is, even if it’s something really small)

2. Once I've written those things down...

...I make a note of my emotional dominoes (you can read up on these on Susan Dennard’s website here). Basically, these are the emotions your character is feeling following things that have happened previously; things that impact their decision making, their internal dialogue, their interactions with characters etc.

3. Another tip from Susan Dennard...

...is to write down your scene’s magical cookie! This is something you’re excited about in the scene, something you really want to write. It can be as simple as you loving the banter between two characters who appear in the scene, or it taking place in a location you love – just make sure every scene has one of these for your own enjoyment! Susan has a number of amazing resources on her website here: https://susandennard.com/for-writers/

4. This step isn't always needed but...

...once I have the above, I sometimes write a 0 draft of the scene on paper or in a separate word document. I mostly just write bits of dialogue I have in my head for the scene, or bits of description. If I want to get really rigid with it, I’ll jot down my ‘beginning, middle and end’ of the scene, although this can sometimes stifle me creatively – just do what works for you! I’ve also found using the ‘scene or sequel’ method can really help!

5. As an addition to the above...

...it can be a good idea to create a vague outline. That way, when you’re writing a scene, you know the main points that come before and after, which can really help with setting things up, foreshadowing etc. I personally use the Save the Cat Beat Sheet.

And there you go – you should be ready to write!

Some other things I find helpful during this process is creating a playlist for my book and listening to it whilst I do my ‘unsticking’ (pro tip that works for me if I’m stuck on step 4 – I go for a walk or sit somewhere away from my computer with the playlist on and daydream about the scene, thinking up bits of dialogue and stuff that excites me! I either jot it down in my notes app or voice record it).

Rachael A Edwards first discovered her love of storytelling at a young age, when she got lost in tales of witches, fairies and magical realms. Hailing from England, she spends most of her days writing fantasy novels about morally grey characters in worlds filled with mythology, corruption and magic. She is represented by Rena Rossner at The Deborah Harris Agency.




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