It’s National Novel Writing Month and writer’s block is a pretty major issue for a lot of wrimos out there. Me included. Yes, my word is pretty well on track and I’ve even managed to stay ahead of the daily total goal, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. It’s an uphill battle, every step of the way.
When you’re stuck…
Take some time to think. In the shower, in the car, during your lunch break, wherever you have a few spare moments to think about how to move the story forward.
But don’t abandon your story altogether!
When you’re stuck, it’s important to keep some semblance of a routine even if it’s not very productive. Sit down to write, even when you’re blocked, and even if you only get a couple sentences, or a couple words, onto the page. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and not very many novels are written in a month, but no novels were written by not writing at all!
Shake things up
When you’ve written yourself into the proverbial metaphorical corner, it’s important to remember that you got yourself there, and you can get yourself out! If you wrote your happily ever after 30 thousand words too soon, blow something up. Kill someone off. Turn your story into your protagonist’s worst nightmare.
Logic, in this case, may not be your friend. If you have to add in a magic wand or a fairy godmother to your wildly realistic story, don’t ignore that possibility completely. It might lead somewhere even better than you originally imagined!
It’s not fun, but sometimes that crazy, unforeseen event is exactly what you need to kickstart the story again and keep powering through your characters’ inner monologues and reactions. Conflict isn’t always easy to write, especially when you thought you’d resolved everything so neatly, but if your word count is suffering, conflict is the ingredient that will sweeten (or sour) the plot and push it back onto a track, even if it’s not the original track.
Take another look at it and don’t be afraid to scratch things out viciously and without discrimination. Sometimes an outline can be the source of your block because you felt trapped within a particular plot that might not be working for you anymore. When that happens, sometimes it’s best just to trash the old outline and start a new based on where your story actually has gone and where it can now go.
I’m a plotter, but a lot of times, those pesky characters don’t stay on cue and I have to rewrite my outline, add pieces, rearrange bits, and take some things out altogether to follow the new path because someone had to open their big mouth a chapter too soon or someone decided to crash their car into a tree when they were actually supposed to be murdered in the next scene.
Characters and inspiration can be just as unpredictable as life itself, so sometimes when an idea hits, you have to run with it rather than stay on track with an outline. Remember: it’s an OUTLINE. Not a contract. The only one who knows it didn’t work out right the first time is you.
If you’re really stuck, sometimes you have to sit back and search out inspiration from your favorite books, movies, music, etc. and hope that eventually, something strikes you and you can get back to writing.
If your go-to sources aren’t helping, break out of your comfort zone. Try a new genre. Something you’re not used to can often provide the novelty needed to get you going.
What are you still doing here?
If you’re stuck, now you’re just procrastinating if you’re still reading this! Get off the internet, off the NaNoWriMo website, off Facebook/Twitter and get back to writing, thinking, outlining, or whatever you have to do to boost that word count! Good luck!
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