Have you ever typed around a stubborn cat or dog? I’m doing that right now. She just not in the right position for me and I’m going to have to move her!
That’s better. Okay. Writer’s block.
I’ve had people ask me if I ever get a writer’s block. I sometimes counter it with a question – what is writer’s block? Well, there’s a very good webinar hosted by the Australian Writers Centre that has a small snippet of writer’s block in it. But I’m going to tell you what I know about writer’s block.
Writer’s block can have different reasons. Real life might be getting in the way – especially if it’s a traumatic experience, such as – no, I’m not going to name any event because everyone deals with trauma differently.
But writer’s block can also be with the scene itself. Sometimes the scene itself is traumatic or sometimes it’s either in the wrong place or shouldn’t even be in the book. Let’s look at those separately.
So, take the scene itself as being traumatic. A typical one like that is either heartache or abuse. There are others, but I’ll let you work out which of those work better. I’m not going to go into them. The main thing is to look at the scene itself and ask yourself a few questions:
- Does it belong where you’re putting it?
- Does it move the story along?
- Does it grow the characters?
- Does it provide the basis for the next action?
If you can answer any of those questions with “Yes”, then the scene can stay. If you can’t, then put it in a separate file. It might be in the wrong book.
The next things to ask yourself are:
- Is it the type of scene you like writing?
- Is it a traumatic scene?
- Is it a hard scene?
If you say “Yes” to any of those, then it’s a matter of just taking the scene word by word.
Although if you’re like me, a dialogue or action writer, writing those connecting scenes, the ones that build up toward either the dialogue or the action, can be a challenge. That’s where writing word by word comes in. It may take you a few days to write those types of scenes.
There are ways of getting past writer’s block.
One of them is to have more than one work in progress. This allows you to concentrate on one while your mind is percolating on the other work.
Another is to watch or read similar scenes to see how other writers tackle them. One scene I was writing had to do with terrorism, so I found some movies to watch. Also, I can’t remember which of Alistair McLean’s books it is, but there is a wonderful scene that describes a team of commandos involved in a bus crash and Mr McLean describes how they act during that scene in such detail that I actually utilised their actions in a head-on car crash I was in way back in the 90s. Stopped me losing an arm.
Of course, there are other ways to work through it, walking fast is another way. When I was working full time, I’d walk to the bus stop as a colleague was giving me a lift to work and while I waited for him, I went over scenes in my mind. I tried dictating them to my phone but couldn’t quite get that down pat. But you get the idea.
I choose to believe I don’t get writer’s block very much – in fact, I have so many scenes jumbling around in my head that I’ll just choose another one to write if I can’t write the one I’m working on.
I do recognise that people have it and I admit to not writing for 20 years, so hang in there if that’s what’s happened to you. Your writing will come back, better and stronger than it was before!
Now I have another cat to deal with! Night all!