Writers Block

Close up of unrecognizable woman writing on a paper with a pen.

One of the most frustrating times for a writer is working on a story and hitting a wall. I’m talking about that phenomenon known as writers block. Unfortunately, I have suffered from this problem on a few of my earlier books. You are writing away, happily immersed in your story and putting your characters through all sorts of trials and tribulations when suddenly the bottom falls out of the story and you don’t know how to move forward.

The cure for this problem is planning. Now before I even begin a story, I outline my idea from the inciting event all the way to the end of the book. I have found that when I have a road map of where I am going it is a lot easier to make my daily word count and keep the story on track. Another thing that helps is to know your characters. I do a character sheet on each one. Since I am writing several series, I need to keep track of who is who. It is amazing how many times you need to write a detail about one of your characters and you don’t remember it. What color eyes does he have? What element of his back-story caused him to react a certain way? Where was he born? A complete character sheet on all your primary and secondary characters can save a lot of time, which would otherwise be spent going back through your manuscript trying to find the place where you mentioned it before.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being stuck, I have found that it helps to stop and go back and read what you have written, taking notes along the way. Many times the answer to your plotting dilemma lies in the part you have already written. If you can’t find an answer to your problem, a careful reading of the story thus far can show you where you went off the rails and what parts you need to remove in order to get out of the corner you’ve written yourself into.

We all have those times when you want to take your work in progress and run it through the shredder. Sometimes that best thing to do is walk away from your manuscript and let your head clear.

What do you do when you’re stuck?

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Augustina Van Hoven

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