Every writer considers this the ultimate writing bane. Even if they don't want to admit to the truth, at some point in time, each writer has some form of writer's block. Some writers completely freeze up at this moment.
In the beginning, writer’s block can start with a simple "I don't know what to write" and plummet through the work-in-progress to a "What the hell was I thinking when I wrote this crap? And where do I go from here?"
Writer's Block. It stops an author dead in his tracks and leads to some serious issues. But, first, what causes writer's block?
There are many reasons a writer gets stuck during the process...
Story juncture and lost direction are opposite ends of the same candle many author’s are accused of burning all night long. A writer may reach a point and must decide one of several different options. In one instance, for me, it was trying to decide how to approach a series that had wiggled itself into a story I was writing. The story, as I wrote it, kept expanding from a simple one book to a notorious possibility of five books. My dilemma was which way to approach telling the story. Book one was a given but it was the next segment that had me at wit's end. Do I do book 2 from my hero's Point of View (POV) and book 3 from the wizard's POV — each book telling the same basic tale but from different perspectives? That is, in the hero's POV there is a scuffle and a farmer's hay wagon catches fire. In the wizard's POV, he is headed to the castle when he notices a commotion up the street and suddenly sees a flaming hay wagon careening toward him. He ducks into a building, missing the hero. While back in the other book, the hero chases the wagon down the street, yelling for the people to stand clear. He misses seeing the wizard. In both books, there would be scenes that overlap each other. Of course, book 4 would once more blend back to two POVs within the stories, as would book 5. I finally decided to just 'bite the bullet' and do a sequential telling and having two POVs — similar to how Tolkein handled the split of the fellowship in “Lord of the Rings” where Frodo and Sam go their way in their quest to rid the world of the ring and the rest of the group handle the other issues assaulting Middle Earth. It will make more sense, be easier to read, and won’t cause as many dèjá vu moments.
Still, juncture can fall inside the story where the author must decide if it would be better to (a) kill the character, (b) just maim the character, (c) let the character fret over a small scratch, or (d) have nothing happen. I believe this might be the source of how “which-way” books came into existence.
Sometimes while writing, novelists will stumble into the abyss and feel they will continue to fall for all eternity. This is what happens when a story abruptly ends within the imagination, but not on paper. It is a major stumbling block: How to continue? Where will the story go? I’m done, but the story isn’t. Trust me, breathe. All is not lost.
Of course, outside events: life, depression, stress and other issues can also have an effect on the writing process. Kids or a spouse screaming for attention, feeling down in the dumps because you feel nobody will ever read this manuscript, or even just the stress of feeling guilty that you're ignoring your spouse so you can write — Yes, all of these can lead to writer's block.
So, now, how do we, as writers, avoid this abominable creature? The list is in no way complete but here are some valuable suggestions.
Perhaps you may only need to step away for an hour or so; maybe more. BUT, suddenly, the light will go on and you'll realize that problem wasn't a problem but is a simple fix with a little bit of editing of the last few pages. The solution could be as simple as the story not being told in the proper manner or even in the correct point of view.
Whatever the cause of writer's block, there is always a solution. Worst case scenario, consider an idea generating exercise. Let me explain.
Sometimes your mind will go numb and you can't think of anything to write. You've called on your Muse but she (or he) just hasn't answered the request. You sit at your desk and struggle. Beating your head against a wall serves absolutely no purpose.
Step back! It is time to go on an adventure.
This will be a multi-step process, so grab your trusty notepad and a good writing instrument. Yes, this is going to be a rustic adventure. You're actually going to write by hand. With paper and pen in hand, take yourself to the local bookstore.
Doing this exercise will wake up the Muse in you and get the juices flowing.
I read just the first paragraph (a total of four lines) of a novel about a Viking. Between the title of another book and that paragraph, I was able to expand and begin a new work-in-progress. The imagery was amazing and exploded in my mind as I wrote my first sentence. I continued with the paragraph and then wrote the complete outline for the novel which I may or may not use for a NaNoWriMo event — National Novel Writing Month which is held each November.
Bottom line, these ideas have been saved not only to a directory where I already have a couple of other outlines for future projects, but also to a file cabinet folder. I know this exercise works.
Are you ready for the Mystique #8 crack? Writing block is a bunch of bull. If you read between the lines, you should have noticed the simplicity of the crack.
Writing block is usually caused by the story going in the wrong direction and you, the writer, losing focus. It will cause stress and, like a snowball rolling downhill, more and more gets collected into the ball, blowing it out of proportion.
If your imagination goes stale, give it an injection. If you’ve reached a wall in your imagination, it is like the universe, there is no end — crawl over the wall and see the great expanse beyond.