I’ve seen this question asked many times, so I thought I would post my thoughts on the subject. My personal experience with writer’s block may not be the same as yours, but it may provide you with some insights.
Personally, I very rarely experience writer’s block when I’m actively working on a manuscript. Once I get going on a plot that I have developed, the only thing that slows me down is the availability of time. I feel like my books write themselves with me servicing as just the conduit to get them down on paper.
Like every author though, I do experience writer’s block on occasion. This usually only happens to me under one of two situations: either I am trying to develop a brand new plot or I am working on a novel that I probably shouldn’t be writing. I’ll elaborate…
As I have mentioned before in my posts, I knew I wanted to write fiction from a very young age. Even as a young boy, I jotted down plot and character ideas. Over the years, I kept all of those ideas which I now use as the foundation for most of my novels. As a result, most of my work has been in progress for decades, at least at the foundational level.
Times change though and new ideas are born. This is when I experience the majority of my writer’s block moments. When trying to develop a new idea into an actual plotline, I often hit a dead end. On those occasions, I simply save what I have come up with in a “Novel Ideas” document that I have been growing for years and move on to the next. If something occurs to me at a later date that would help to develop that particular plot, I’ll return to it and continue from there.
The second scenario where I tend to experience writer’s block is when writing a book that isn’t going anywhere. This happens; sometimes we get an idea for a book that we think will be great but once we start writing it, we realize that it isn’t going to work out. This unfortunate phenomenon can occur while writing the first page or halfway through the manuscript. Again, when this happens to me, I simply add it to my “Novel Ideas” document and move on.
Neither of those scenarios really addresses the true nature of writer’s block. I believe the real question is: “What should an author do when they hit a brick wall while working on a well-developed plot that has the potential to be a bestseller.” Below, I’ll offer a few suggestions:
1. Take a break.
Do something different for a few hours or even a couple of days but not a few weeks. Go for a jog. Workout at the club. See a movie. Take someone you love on a weekend getaway.
2. Bench it for now.
Put this one on the back burner and start working on a different idea, perhaps one that has been on your mind for some time. You might just find that the juices once again begin to flow.
3. Try a different approach.
If you hit a brick wall with the plot, then try working on character development. Likewise, if the block is with the development of a character, add a placeholder for later and continue working on the plot.
4. Change your environment.
Something as simple as getting out of your home office may spark your creativity. As I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy writing in public places. Leave the confinement of your working space and take your laptop to a park or a bar or any other place that gives you a sense of comfort.
5. Sleep on it.
This one may sound silly but don’t count it out. I’m not saying you should simply give up and call it a night since that would be defeatist. What I am saying is that one day really can make a difference. When you go to bed, run through your current dilemma in your mind as you’re falling asleep; the answer to your problem may come in your dreams.
If you have other suggestions, please offer them up in a comment. If you enjoy my content, then please subscribe to my monthly newsletter with exclusive content and post alerts.