Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor
Vision@sff.net

Conquering Writer's Block

by J M Edwards III
©2004, J M Edwards III


This article will show you a step-by-step method of kicking writer's block to the curb.  We shall look at the basis of your writer's block and how to get past it.  Be prepared to step outside your boundaries to accomplish this.  You have the skills to do it.  DON'T PANIC! 

No technique is guaranteed; however, I use this method myself and have shared it with several other authors who, for some reason or other, couldn't get that next word on the page.  One of the things you must do is be completely honest.  If you have an issue that you are not ready to address, this article will not be able to help you much.  With that said, let's dive in.

What is the cause of your writer's block?

I break this down into two areas: problems related to the writing and problems not related to the writing.  Ask yourself the following:

·      Are there any outside pressures that are distracting me from my writing?  If not, move on to the end of this list.

·      What steps I can take to resolve these issues?

The key here is to itemize each step in resolving each issue.  After you itemize, put a goal date next to each step (you may say “immediately”; in this case, stop writing and do it).  This is the date you anticipate completing the step.  By assigning dates, you are making a commitment to yourself to get these issues resolved.  This in itself should relieve some of the pressure that is causing your writing to suffer.

·      Type up the solutions to these issues and add them to your daily word count.  This can help you keep up with your word count goals and alleviate some of that pressure.

If outside pressures are not the problem, then we must assume there are issues with the story.  You have written yourself into a corner.  Your characters are no longer speaking to you.  The compass you have been using to direct your story is suddenly broken.  Whatever the problem is, the outcome is that you are no longer writing your story.

Don't stress!  There is something you can do about it.  The idea is to locate the place in the story where the writing began to stray and fix it from there.  This is how we go about it (yes, more questions).  Read through all of the steps quickly, then follow the directions at the end of the list.

·      In ten words or less, how does your story end?

·      In ten words or less, what is your theme?

·      In one hundred words or less, describe what has been happening in the last two chapters to the characters involved in this chapter.

·      In one hundred words or less, describe what is going to happen in the next two chapters to the characters involved in this chapter.

You may stop answering as soon as you have an inspiration.  You should be able to complete this in fifteen minutes or less.  GO!

If you could not complete these four steps in fifteen minutes, the problem may lay farther toward the beginning of the story.  Is this where you want your characters?  Have your characters strayed from their original motivations or from the themes of your story?  What needs to happen for the characters to get to the next chapter?  To the end of the book?  Again, write or type all of this out and add it to your daily word count.

If you are still stuck, you may need to conduct character interviews, outline revisions, or a reassessment of your theme and plot.  Whatever you do, keep writing.  That's how this article came about.  Good luck.

By the way, I'm not stuck anymore.