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Breaking Down Writer’s Block

Breaking Down Writer’s Block

mindset motivation Nov 23, 2023

I’m sure you’re familiar with writer’s block, the serial killer of millions of works-in-progress. While it can be incredibly frustrating to experience, there are many things you can do to identify the root cause of the problem and tackle it. 

I’ve been writing for about fifteen years, and I’m constantly feeling blocked. I’ve gathered all the solutions I’ve tried and found successful here so you can try them yourself. Because you can’t browbeat writer’s block into submission. 

You have to try something new.

 

What kind of block is it? 

 

The first thing to do when you notice a block is set aside whatever you’re trying to work on and clear your head. Maybe get a warm drink or take a short walk. Hopefully, that will get some of your frustration out of the way so you can be more analytical. 

I like to split writer’s block into two different strains. One is the story block. The other is the writing block. 

 

The Plot Block

 

A story block occurs when you’re not sure how the plot should progress, and there are some simple solutions. Note, they are simple but not always easy. It depends on how big of a block you’ve come up against. 

This kind of obstacle will come often if you’re more of a pantser and haven’t taken the time to plan out your novel before starting. 

 

If this sounds like you, then set your manuscript down for a while and give some thought to where you want your story to go.

 

Jolt your creativity

 

Stock up on creative input by reading books you like. You can also go back and read your own story. You may be surprised to find inspiration in an earlier chapter. A throw away phrase that sounded cool at the time may open up possibilities for your characters. 

Write a paragraph or a page from a different character’s point of view. My favorite thing to do when I’m stuck is to put myself in the villain’s shoes and think about how I want to destroy my main character. (I know it sounds brutal, but no one wants to read a story about a character who succeeds at everything.)

 

I still don’t know what my story needs!

 

If you’re feeling lost, check out The Plotter’s Almanac here on The Plottery or the free 12-week novel plan. If you need some more guidance, try out Power Plotter to get one-on-one writer coaching or Novel Plotting Academy for a more self-guided approach.

 

The Writing Block

 

What if my scene just feels flat and uninteresting to write? 

The simplest thing to try here is just to change the setting for the scene and try again. Maybe the mood wasn’t right. 

If that doesn’t work, check to make sure that this scene is serving your story. Does it have conflict? Is it moving your character arcs? If you threw this scene out right now, would it affect the end of your story? 

If you answered no to any of these questions, reevaluate your scene or cut it. 

 

Okay, but what if I know what I want to write and it’s exciting, but I just can’t seem to get it down?

In my experience, this is usually a crisis of confidence/impostor syndrome or some form of executive dysfunction. If you’re lucky, you get both at the same time. 

ALSO: Kill the Impostor

 

 

When it comes to beating executive dysfunction to write, I turn to the one program that helps me get it together. 

This program is Write or Die. 

I did a bunch of research on other apps and websites that are similar, but Write or Die has options that pretty much do everything those other websites do just all in one place. To me, it’s the perfect tool to overcome my hesitance and bulldoze the internal editor that comes out while writing. 

You can buy the full version of the program or you can use the older version for free online if you don’t have any money to spare. 

 

How to get the best out of Write or Die

 

There are different modes. The reward mode is for those of you who thrive on positive reinforcement. For the rest of us, there’s the consequence mode and kamikaze mode. Consequence mode will turn the screen red and play jarring noises if you stop typing, while kamikaze mode will start deleting what you’ve written. That one’s not for the faint of heart. 

You set your own goals and pace, and there’s a full screen for you to write with the countdown visible. And the best part of it is that you can’t backspace. You can only go forward.

This has really helped me separate the spontaneous creative side of my writing from the analytical and overly critical editor in the back. 

What I’ve found to be the best method to go about this is to experiment until  you find a writing pace that’s fast enough to keep you interested but one that’s still achievable. 

Before I start my writing session, I pull up my scene outline to reinforce what I want to write. This gives me just enough guidance without being stifling. 

 

Here, have this grain of salt

 

Now, of course, all this is just my experience. You’ll need to do some introspection and experimentation to find what methods work for you. There’s no one right way to write. 

You can record yourself narrating instead of typing. 

You can write longhand in a notebook. 

You can type it out on your phone while you go to school or work. 

Find what works for you.

 

In Conclusion

 

Whether you’re stuck on the plot or just can’t write, rest assured that there are as many solutions as you’re willing to try. Next time you can’t write, try to rediscover your love for writing. If you just keep pushing against the writer’s block, you might give up on writing altogether. So, don’t push. Just pivot. 

 


Ariadne Aaronson
Written for The Plottery

Ariadne Aaronson is a professional editor and lover of urban fantasy. After getting her degree in creative writing, she began working as an editor with independent publishers and mentoring novice writers. When she’s conveniently avoiding her work schedule, she might be playing with cats, baking, or painting.

 

 

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