Blocking out writer’s block

How do you beat writer’s block? We all get it from time to time. I’m not talking about the crippling variety they show in the movies…a writer with bloodshot eyes sitting in a darkened room – at a desk hopelessly crowded by filthy coffee cups – staring at an antique typewriter, loaded with an accusing blank sheet of paper. As far as I can tell, the best cure for that is to go away and do something else for a while – good ideas can’t be forced.

I’m more interested now in what you do in those moments where you are steaming along nicely, when suddenly you hit a brick wall, and don’t know what comes next.

For example, I’m working on a short murder mystery for a competition. The body has been discovered, with the murder weapon lying nearby. I know who the murderer is, and have chosen a key piece of evidence that will point to their guilt. The only problem is, I haven’t any idea why the victim had to die.

So what do you do in these situations? So far I’ve chosen to ignore the problem…I’ve been leaving gaps (plot-holes!) and just going on to another scene until I figure it out, but I fear I’m getting to the point where this is no longer an option.

Sometimes I might have several ideas about how a line or a scene might go, but none of them are a perfect fit…so I put them all in, knowing I’ll have to come back to it in editing…not ideal, but it helps keep the flow going if I don’t have to stop and think for too long.

I read this article today, which had some interesting ideas – not necessarily about breaking writers block – but about ways to extend your creativity. (Warning: Link contains coarse language!!) I’d say that doing some of the exercises suggested would be a lot more productive than staring into space, even if you do end up scrapping 90% of what you’ve written.

I bet you’re thinking, ‘but what about when you’ve got nothing to work with?’ That’s a whole post on its own…maybe I’ll cover it next time I’ve got writer’s block!

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