It’s week four of JuNoWriMo, one of the most challenging weeks. By now you may be worn thin, your story may have lost its shine, or you may have run out of ideas. It’s common for me to hit a wall somewhere beyond the middle of my novels. But what do you do when you just feel stuck?
In On Writing, Stephen King provides a chest full of gold nuggets – encouragement, inspiration, solutions to problems every writer faces. These tips may be the vital pieces you need to break through and finish JuNoWriMo. Just in case you don’t have time to read it right now, I’m going to share one of the ways King’s wisdom has helped me.
The Curse of Writer’s Block
What is writer’s block? It depends on who you ask. The causes are even more varied, especially because it can attack all writers differently.
In my personal experience, I’ve found that writer’s block often is this: the excuse not to write. That may sound harsh, but I’m speaking for myself here. Sure, we all get stuck sometimes. I’ve had my share of big, gaping plot holes to hurdle. I’ve also experienced times of creative funk when I had absolutely no motivation to work. It’s miserable. But often what we call “writer’s block” is nothing more than a lack of tenacity – not being willing to stick with it and write through the block.
If you can figure out what’s blocking you, it makes it easier to push past it. Personally, when I get stuck, it’s usually because I don’t know what happens next in the story.
Fighting Bad with Worse
In On Writing, King made an excellent point about his own experiences with writer’s block. He said often the best solution is to add a new problem. In other words, let tragedy strike your poor, unsuspecting characters. The moment I heard that, I began analyzing periods in my work when writing was a struggle. I found that most of them were indeed at a point in the story where there was more apathy than disaster, more dull tranquility than teeth-gritting struggle.
But when I throw adversity at my characters, I instantly have something to write about. A little more self-analysis, and I determined that the times I had beaten writer’s block often happened because I initiated a new dilemma in the plot.
If King hadn’t so plainly stated his solution to writer’s block, I don’t think I would have had the conscious realization on my own. When I got stuck with my story, my gut response was for a solution to get my characters out. It’s the same thing I do in life – looking for the bright side, trying to patch up the bad with the good. But my natural optimism didn’t do my stories any favors. Actually, I’ve come to believe that seeing all the things that can go wrong is an ideal vantage point for a writer. Pessimists rejoice!
So I suppose I’ve switched sides. At least when it comes to writing fiction. I’ve finally learned that the best way to fight writer’s block is to let the plot take a turn for the worse.
Maybe you’re in the same boat?
Double bonus: if your story is nearing the end, it’s the right time for the tension to ramp up anyway. So here’s my final challenge to you for these last few days:
Focus on building in all the bad stuff you can as your characters ride up that coaster’s final, steep hill.
Let’s race to the end!
An author and dabbler in all things creative, Becca J. Campbell loves thinking up stories about supernatural abilities, experimenting with painting techniques, drawing in her sketchbook, and recycling stuff into cool products for her Etsy shop UpCycled Chic By Becca.