As I begin to make some progress with the seventh (and final) book in the Legacy of Androva series, I got to thinking about how I could improve my writing process. There are still times when I hit a mental block in terms of how to take the story forward, even though I know my characters and the worlds they inhabit very well. And next year I'll be starting something brand new, so I won't even have that familiarity to fall back on. Now seems like a good time to come up with a strategy.
I already know that I can't outline, so plotting my way out of writer's block is not an option. The stories I invent whenever I try to figure things out in advance are--how can I put this?--not the best. And sometimes, not knowing what's coming next is a good motivator for me. I keep writing because I want to know what happens.
So, after due consideration, here is my Top Ten of ways to beat the block. (As always, I feel I should make it clear these are based on my own experiences and I am not an expert!).
💻 Keep writing. For me, this is number one. I'm not suggesting you should force yourself to remain sitting at the laptop when the words won't come, but maintaining some kind of discipline is important. As long as you keep trying, the breakthrough will happen eventually. If you stop writing for too long, it can be difficult to get your head back into the story.
📚 Read. For fun, for research, for exposure to other writing styles both in your genre and outside of it, or just to take a break from the keyboard. There are a ton of reasons why reading is always a great idea.
⏰ Accept that there will be moments when you doubt the story, the characters, and even your ability to write at all. The half-way point of the book is almost guaranteed to be a low point! It can't be helped, and it's horrible, but it's not a reason to stop writing.
🏃Physical activity: working out, or playing a sport, or even just going for a walk. Doing something physically tiring, particularly outside in the fresh air, seems to help my brain to calm down as well.
🤔 Don't think about it too much, and try not to force it. Ideas often drift into my head when I least expect them. During the long commute to work while listening to music is one of the times I am most likely to think of something helpful - I don't know why!
👉 Go forwards in the story. If you don't know what to write next, try jumping to a later point in the plot and writing from there. Sometimes it's easier to bridge the gap when you know exactly what the other side looks like. If you have more than one work-in-progress, swapping between them can also work.
📵 No distractions while writing. Procrastination and writer's block definitely inspire each other! That means no internet, no phone, no social media. Just you and Word, or whatever application you use for your writing. (*whispers* I've never managed to do this. I am a brilliant procrastinator 😳)
🏛 Research. This can be a way to take a break from writing while remaining immersed in your story. I loved the time I spent researching Ancient Rome for the sixth book in the series. I even visited the town of Bath in South West England (unfortunately my budget didn't stretch to Pompeii!) and it was great fun imagining my characters while I was standing in a real Roman setting.
👥 Don't be afraid to use your network. The writing and blogging community can be really helpful and supportive in terms of getting you past a block and writing again.
📝 Make a note of your ideas, no matter where you are or when they come to you. You could use a notebook or just type them into your phone. It's important because in my experience, there's no guarantee you'll remember them later (but that might just be me!).
I think I have to accept that, for me, writer's block in some shape or form is inevitable. All I can do is make my way past it as best I can and as quickly as I can. The most important thing is to keep writing.
If you are a writer, how do you cope with writer's block? Do you have any tried and tested strategies that always help you? Thank you for reading today's post!