We are coming into the third week of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month which is a month where people challenge themselves to write a novel of about 50 000 words. There are groups and pages and get-togethers all through the month of November to encourage people to reach this goal), which is usually one of the hardest weeks. Since there is no way I can commit to 50 000 while raising an almost 1 year old and being insanely pregnant, I’m going to make a list of types of writers’ blocks and ways to break them down so my writer friends can get back to reaching their goals!
Day 1: Nowhere to Go
I like to think in visuals when it comes to writers’ block so that it seems a lot more manageable. For this type of writer’s block, I picture the writer standing at the edge of a cliff. Behind them is the written path that they took to get here and ahead? Nothing, but air. So where do you go from here? Because NaNoWriMo is all about word counts, we aren’t going to encourage anyone to go back and rewrite anything. We want to move forward. For this writers’ block, there are a couple of different things you can do to get around it:
1. Change your perspective
When you’re standing at the edge of a cliff, it looks like there is no where to go. You can’t step forward because you’ll fall. You don’t want to go back and waste all that time and all those words. You look up, there’s sky. You look down, a sure drop to death. So we change perspectives. Instead of looking through the writer’s eyes, look at the writer from a third person perspective. Maybe you see a staircase leading down the side of the cliff or a rope ladder that was camouflaged in the rock or a bridge to another mountain that was hidden by a rock formation.
Stepping outside the metaphor, you can do this by imagining your story from the villain’s perspective or anyone other than the protagonist. If you’re writing in third person, think in the perspective of first person for a couple of minutes. What do other characters or other perspectives show you about your character’s current situation? If you see a new path to follow, find a way to make it happen. When you’ve written yourself to a cliff, it usually means you need a change of direction. So follow the stairs down or find a way across the bridge or let the rope ladder take you where you can go next.
When you are on a cliff’s edge and you can’t change perspective, you have another option: jump. You’re either going to fly or you’re going to fall. Either way, you’re moving, right? This method just means that you should write anyways. Just keep writing a stream of (maybe) useless nothings until the words start to form a direction.
This way is risky. You could keep writing and nothing comes from it. It could be a great waste of time. Or just the act of writing can make the story work itself into something better than you imagined. Sometimes the story gets lost in that brain of yours and the only way to get it out is by letting your fingers take over.
The only thing I’d suggest here is to change your font colour so that if you do end up falling, you know where the block started and can erase and start again if you need to.
Again on the mountain top, sometimes the bridge hasn’t caught up with you and if you wait a little while, the bridge will get built. By this, I mean, go out and take a break. The cliff will be there when you get back, but inspiration is everywhere (except the internet. Stay away from the internet!). Go for a walk, get a coffee, read a book, call up a friend. Do something that takes you out of your blocked head space and into a world of movement. You may hear something, see something, read something that acts as a notification that, yes! the bridge has been completed and you can keep on writing.
How about it? Do you get this kind of writers’ block? Do you follow any of these methods to get rid of it or do you do something else? Let me know in the comments!
Come back tomorrow for day 2 of the week of writers’ block where we talk about how life gets in the way of your writing!