Writer’s Block strikes all of us at some time or other so maybe Writers’ Block is a more accurate description?
Here are some ways you might beat the block!
Open a drawer and pull out a random object and write about that in a style of your choosing. Breathless Mills & Boon prose about a stapler anyone?
Write a list of things you dislike about your main character. Then generate some positives to add balance.
Get away from the typewriter and use a pencil and some sticky note pads. Stick ideas into a small notebook. You can always remove the rubbish ones into the rubbish bin the next day.
Sniff the way forward by imagining what the location of your story smells like. Throw in unusual scents to generate a sense of place.
Give characters and places a potted history – no more than a paragraph written on the fly.
Ask a question – ‘Why?’ and try to think of a situation that gives you an answer.
Write a verb and get the computer synonym maker to chuck new words out at you – a different or unfamiliar word may get the character talking or acting in a different style.
Turn on the TV and grab a headline (one that is positive) and think about your characters and how they would react to it.
Write a note for your character – the sort you’d find left on a fridge.
Revisit first lines from books in your house – and play with them.
Time yourself and try to write 200 words in 10 minutes – anything.
Think about what your character most needs at the moment. Then try to get it down, jousting its needs with other key characters.
Flip the issue over if it’s a problem that’s stumping you, e.g., if a character is too dull then try to make them too interesting – by going Over The Top!
Nick ideas from friends & family either by telling them you’re stuck, or by eavesdropping on their conversations. Amazing what you can pick up and play with – just don’t use real names when it comes to publication.
Use rhyme – forcing yourself to think of simple rhythmic sentences. Often, a narrative will come.
The idea here is to just get something down … to clear the blockage. If one thing doesn’t work, try another. And if that does not work then, er, do a blog … Works for me!
Think up dramatic, funny, quirky opening lines – and really play with the scene, character or place – pushing them as far as you can. This will lead you into areas that you would not normally go. If you struggle with this then play with the last line. Apparently J.K. Rowling had the last line of her last book ready before she finished the first book. I tend to think about how the action might wind up and conclude – so writing a final line seems to make things more concrete. It always helps me to know where I’m heading narratively.
Wander around the house picking up props – which can easily become prompts for new ideas. Maybe you’ve a figurine from Africa that sparks off a story set there … ?
Get in the car, or put on your boots, and take a journey – heading for an unfamiliar place, object, house – whatever – as long as you examine your feelings when you arrive there. Being in a fresh environment can conjure up vivid new ideas and thoughts that you can mull over on the way back.
Start with the word ‘I’ … and add an action to it – such as ‘jump’ – and then see where it leads – off a cliff – down a hole – who cares as long as you’re writing …
Begin with ‘What If …’ and say aloud something outlandish or mundane. Let the ideas follow on from each other. Maybe it’ll help to dictate to your computer, or chat to the dog? Just getting words out and hearing them gives you ideas a reality that might spur you on imaginatively.
These are just a few writing tips that have worked for me. Hopefully the few minutes spent reading them has got your brain juices flowing … I will add more the next time I’m hit by a wall of my Writer’s blocks.
Alan Dapré is a published children’s author living near Glasgow in Scotland. His latest series is Porridge The Tartan Cat. Packed with hilarious twists and fun wordplay, all with a cat’s-eye view of a zany Scottish family.