I have been fortunate in my writing experience to almost NEVER experience writer's block, but it seems to be a big problem for a lot of authors out there. I decided to take this article to give some tips on things that I do to prevent writers block. I think the most common cause of writer's block is poor planning. Most people come up with a brilliant concept (mine usually come through dreams!) and then they take that little nugget of brilliance and start writing. Problem is, it is a LITTLE nugget and it is very rarely the beginning or the end, it is usually the middle. But since you know where you are going it is fairly easy to piece together an acceptable opening to get to your golden nugget, then you have the nugget and... writer's block strikes!!
This occurred because the writer did not have proper planning. I always make sure that I have a solid opening, middle and end before I start writing a project. I have tried several methods and depending on your story line, some of these may help you. The first method is writing it in my head. This is actually my preferred method. I have been writing an apocalypse story in my head for the last... hmmm... two years? Not one piece of it has made it to paper yet, because I've had so many other projects going on and because I have not figured out the ending. (I suppose I could be suffering from writer's block, but since I haven't started writing it, I don't let it count!!!) When I get to a point where I am ready to start seriously working on this project I will sit down and map the story line. I used to do this on paper the same way we would outline school papers, but I recently got this fabulous dry erase board that I am using for another project and I ABSOLUTELY love it!!! I draw it out in a time-line format and it helps me to stay on track and not ramble! Yep, my absolute favorite!
Now, once you have done all of that and you sit down to write, I have heard that some people get to a point and they know where they need to go from point F to point G, but they just can't come up with anything. Well, my rule of thumb is that while I am writing I NEVER stop at a logical place. For example at the end of a chapter or scene. I stop in the middle so that the next day I pick up with what I was already creating. AVOID cold-starts. Engines don't like them and neither do our brains.
Sometimes I just need to take a few moments to step away from the computer and do something else. But while I am doing that something else (usually cleaning house) I am acting out the next scene in my head visualizing it like a movie and finding the way that feels like it fits best.
The last thing I do, is make sure that I work on other projects in between my re-writes. For example, over Christmas break I wrote a stalker story before I started my sequel to my next book. After I finished the first draft on the stalker story I started working on the sequel. I am just over half way finished with the sequel and once I am done with that, THEN I will go back to the stalker book. If you give the story time to breath, it allows you to have a fresh eye when looking at it.
The last bit of advice to prevent writer's block is to write a little bit every day. Even if you are in-between projects, find some writing exercises. (Some of my favorites are randomly selecting a dozen words from the dictionary and then using them to write a poem, short story, etc.) You see our creativity is like a muscle and if you do not use it and flex it regularly then it will atrophy. Just as you work out several times a week (if you don't, you should!!) You have to work out your creativity as well.
And there is my advice on dealing with writer's block! Hope it helps any of you out there plagued with this problem. If any of you have any other tips, please feel free to share them in the comments section. I have seen lots of other suggestions on-line and what works for one may not work for another. These are simply the things that work best for me.
Until next time,