I didn’t realize I’ve been suffering from a bout of writer’s block until I broke through it last week. I’ll guess that’s because I’ve been writing around the block, instead of not writing at all.
Every writer suffers from writer’s block. I’m not mad at myself for hitting one. Running into a wall is an unfortunate part of the writing process. The important thing is to find a way through the blockage. I thought I’d share how I found mine in case it helps someone else.
I spent November writing the bulk of a new historical romance. I had committed to finishing within the month, and knowing the structure I also knew where I wanted to be in the plot on any given day (writing chronologically as I was). I anticipated a slow-down in the middle of the middle, so when the slump caught up with me I jumped ahead to the third and final section in order to reach the finale by the end of the month. At the end of November, always a dark month for me, I burned out and crawled into a hole until the holidays arrived. At the start of January, I began a new work contract away from home and looked forward to revisiting the manuscript and tackling that missing chunk. Except… I found more time to promote my finished novel and design my author page and blog a little and share an already-written excerpt. You catch my drift there… Writer’s Block!
Last weekend, with no more convenient writing distractions at hand, I procrastinated by eating breakfast while watching hours of YouTube and then went out cross-country skiing by myself. That sounds terribly non-productive, but here’s the thing: on YouTube I returned to a British TV show I’d discovered while researching my novel’s setting, a BBC show called “Renovation Home.” Part of the fun of the series is the show’s archive-digging into the home’s historical occupants and their lives. One of the episodes I watched reminded me that during the era of my novel’s setting, everyone corresponded by letter, and frequently. In my novel, my characters write, but I had not thought of using the physical trail of letters as a way to carry my plot forward.
After breakfast I headed out into the woods alone, my morning viewing simmering in my head. All those thoughts of correspondence and paper trails unravelled into a new path that my character could follow to get him where I wanted him to go. By the time I got back from skiing I knew how he escaped from the place I couldn’t get him out of, how he arrived at the place I couldn’t get him to, and how the people who met him there would know where to find him.
Thus, writer’s block dashed. I sat down when I got home and pummelled out 1000 words.
Returning to the source of research won’t work for everyone, but I found a revisit to source material very inspirational. Partaking in some methodical activity afterward where the ideas can fall into place works wonders. Going for a walk has always been a fall back for me when I’m stuck. My mind wanders and there’s probably something to the rhythm of walking that helps that happen. Skiing alone in the woods clearly does the same thing.
Feel free to comment below if you’d like to share your own way of breaking through writer’s block.
Next week I investigate promoting my novel via blog touring, and what the hell that means.