Being right in the middle of a story and not knowing how to get to where you need to go is one of the most frustrating things about being a writer. My current WIP was written years ago as a standalone novel. Now that I’m about to turn it into book 3 in a series, where it fits perfectly and which fixes all the reasons I never loved it before, there’s a lot that I have to add and change about it. New scenes, new characters and new situations, as well as a new ending.
However, after writing books 1 and 2 in a row, I’ve hit a writer’s block and exhausted myself so much that I can’t find the energy or inspiration to continue with book 3, but since it’s already mostly written, I want to get it finished.
Here are some of my tips for how to get this done:
Write dialogue only, first. Once you have a conversation set in your mind, even if it’s only the words, you can then figure out how to fill in the gaps with movement, thoughts and which characters are going to take part. I find that this is great for my current project, since there are only a few scenes I need to add from scratch.
It sounds counterproductive but head to YouTube and spend half and hour to an hour watching uplifting videos. They can be related to your story or they can be random. I love to put my headphones in and watch choreographer videos, where they’re in the studio and all the kids of all abilities get to do the same routine. The repetition doesn’t demand a lot of attention, the songs are great and the upbeat spirit and excitement really wakes me up from writer’s block fatigue and inspires me.
Put the story aside and watch a movie or a few episodes of your favourite TV show. Like with YouTube, the distraction can rejuvenate your brain, wake you up and inspire you in all kinds of ways. Sometimes it’s a word or a scene in that movie/TV show that reminds you of your story and you get the urge to get back to it. Sometimes it’s just that you realise you can’t get into the movie/TV show because your brain is still ticking over trying to figure out the problem.
Put the story away. Sometimes the best thing to do when writer’s block hits is to just stop that story altogether. I have seven incomplete novels that I began last year that aren’t finished yet. I hope to get back to them and finish them this year, but that all depends on whether the inspiration is there. Last month, I read the entire first book of one of my series, then the first few chapters I’d managed to write for book 2. I was stuck in the story and immensely inspired. I wrote 10 chapters in just a few days, but then my inspiration ran dry and I knew forcing the rest was pointless. I had hit the point where the romance turned into action and I wasn’t in the mood to write any kind of action scene. So I set it aside and turned to another series. Not only did I complete the first book in that series, but book 2 and I’m now working on finishing book 3. All written in a row, because I put one book aside and turned to another at just the right time.
Write while listening to music. For me, this is usually counterproductive, as I write best in silence, where I can fully focus on what I’m doing and how it flows. But, sometimes, putting on my headphones and writing with music on makes me get out of my own head. Oftetn, the words flow easier when I’m not stressing over how it works, who is doing what and I just let my fingers work their magic.
Put it away and read a book. Read three. Read as many as it takes. Maybe you’ll read one in the same genre as your current WIP and be inspired. Maybe you just need to take a break from writing altogether, because you’ve exhausted yourself and your ideas for the story. Maybe what you really need is something totally out of the box to switch your mindset.
Everyone has their own way to battle writer’s block and it takes trial and error before you find the right option. Once you do, it’s not always obvious which one to use. Maybe you need to switch between a few options while working on the same book. Whatever you discover, I hope it helps.
Let me know if you’ve got any really good solutions to writer’s block.