Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hitting the Brick Wall (in the National Novel Writing Month) 13 Suggestions to Break Through Writer’s Block


           


 If you’re like me, the excitement of a new story or beginning a challenge is waning. Now that you’re into the second week, maybe you're wondering where your next 2,000 words will come from.
            Never fear, I have some suggestions. Thirteen, as a matter of fact.



  1. Have one of your main characters start a journal. What are her innermost thoughts/fears about her current plight?
  2. Write a back-story. Give yourself permission to compose a history for your heroes, villains and/or setting. Indulge in all those world-building details and trivia that might bore a reader, but as the creator you feel compelled to  know. Getting them down on paper/electronically will enrich your story. A word of caution, though: Use these details  sparingly in the final draft.
  3. Go through what you’ve written, but don’t edit. Envision the scene you're looking at,  then add another layer. Insert Smells, Sights, Sounds and Tastes -- impressions and associations your character would encounter during his or her experience.
  4. Look at a previous scene and play the "What-If?" game. What would have happened if Character X hadn’t found the gun? Or what if Character X somehow had survived a fall into the volcano?
  5. Write a scene again from the antagonist’s point of view.
  6. Add a new character.
  7. Kill off someone in the story.
  8. Consider handing out super powers.
  9. Look at one of the scenes and consider changing its setting. What if Character X broke up with the villain while both (were swimming in shark infested waters), (attending another character’s funeral), (relaxing aboard the Titanic), (locked in the trunk of a car), (bored to tears at a family reunion), (facing the camera in a reality TV special), (immersed in a fire fight), (climbing to the top of Mount Everest), (being held by airport security).  You get the idea. ...
  10. Make a list of each of your main characters’ dirty secrets. Then another list of the worst possible moments those secrets could be exposed.  If inspiration hits, write that scene.
  11. Look at the things that have happened to your hero. Say he has unlimited text minutes. Compose his explanations of those events in texts to his (boss, mother, girlfriend, child, priest, parole officer).
  12. Remember you’re writing for fun. Not perfection. Keep telling yourself, “This is a Rough Draft. I can always change things later.”
  13. Treat yourself to a reward for words written.

            Finally and possibly the best suggestion in my list, remember to ask friends and family for help. Phone someone or connect on twitter. Also, check out the forums on the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) website:  http://www.nanowrimo.org, or visit another writer’s blog.  
            One of the things I love most about NaNoWriMo and blogging is sharing the writing adventure with others. Please consider leaving a suggestion for defeating writer’s block or a comment. Thanks.

36 comments:

  1. Novelists are like kids with imaginary friends. My favorite tip is having the character keep a journal, but it all seems like so much writing. Interpreting the non-fiction keeps me busy.

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    1. Colleen,
      I love your notion of novelists as kids with imaginary friends. Thanks.

      Delete
  2. Great ideas, I definitely do some already but you've suggested some I hadn't thought of before. Go get yourself a treat! And thanks for joining the Thursday's Children bloghop.

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    1. Rhiann,
      Thanks. I'm grabbing the treat now and I'll be skipping back over to other Thursday's Children's blogs soon. :)

      Delete
  3. alos step away from the page where some new intereaction might jostle and cause a spark.

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    1. Pearl,
      That's a great tip. Sometimes I get my best ideas when I'm not writing. Thanks.

      Delete
  4. Those are some great ideas! Thanks for playing :-) I'm the owner of the T13, and I laughed when I saw one of my older T13 headers ... that was taken in a book store in Salem, MA!

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    1. Thanks Janet,

      I love your TT Headers and I think each time I collect one I tell you. :) I'm so glad you approve and that you have your signature on each one so viewers credit you for the awesome Thursday Thirteen creation.

      Oh, and thanks for visiting. I appreciate it.

      Delete
  5. I have never participated in NaNoWriMo, because I'm always either too busy (my teaching tends to kick into high gear in November) or writing something already.

    One day, perhaps I'll be a part of the insanity.

    I think number twelve is important to remember at all times, as a writer. There's nothing that can't be fixed later - just get it on the page in the first place so you can do the repairs!

    Happy TT!

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    Replies
    1. Kimberly,
      Thanks. I'm learning to just write myself so it's a tip I use, too.

      Delete
  6. I LOVE number ten! Thank you so much for this entire list, but particularly number ten. I think that's really going to come in useful this weekend! :)

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    1. Thanks. I hope you have a lot of success with number ten. :)

      Delete
  7. Great TT. My list is NaNoWriMo themed too.
    http://iblogthebodyelectric.blogspot.com/

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    1. Dane Bramage,
      I'll check out your NaNoWriMo list. :)

      Delete
  8. Some great suggestions. Stepping away from the page is often a good idea -- go for a walk, do some laundry. Agatha Christie said she got her best ideas while doing the dishes. My T13 post

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    1. Yep, I'm with you and Agatha. Thanks.

      Delete
  9. Great list! I like those that involve conceptualizing more than writing.

    One thing I sometimes do before and during writing something: I doodle a lot. And try to draw the characters, and some of the settings. I can be very difficult to translate a misty image in your head into words directly, but sometimes drawing that misty image helps. Acts like a kind of medium.

    Thanks for sharing!

    John

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    Replies
    1. John,
      That's a great idea. So you can picture the characters and settings before you write. I bet they're a lot clearer than.
      Thanks.

      Delete
  10. Oh I hate it when one of my favorites is killed off. Thanks for writing. If I ever participate, I'll look for this.

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, I don't like it when my favorite characters die either, but when they do, the story changes.

      Delete
  11. These are absolutely great ideas! Thanks for posting them. you saw my post over on my site about music--but that would be my only other suggestion, to listen to music and get inspired by the words/mood of the song.

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    1. Tamara,
      I'm with you about music. It is inspiring.

      Delete
  12. Good suggestions! I might have to use some of those.

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  13. This is timely. I just hit the wall yesterday - one of those crises of faith moments. I blame my lack of an outline.

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    1. Alice Audrey,
      I'm sorry to hear that. So did you make an outline?

      Delete
  14. I LOOOVE #1, #2, and #12. Fleshing out the characters, knowing more about them, can help even if I don't use the information.

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  15. Great list. I'm not doing NaNo this year, but the tips apply to non-NaNo novel writing, as well.

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    1. Thanks MissMeliss,
      You're right. Though I think in Nano because participants have to get so many words each day, they need quick fixes for their writer's block. NaNo's cool because pretty much any words count so you can experiment and give in to whatever brainstorm hits.

      Delete
  16. Editing my own work is my weakness. I end up with thoughts whirling, then my head would spin and finally I am useless. NaNoWriMo! I can't believe it's been a year since I attempted the exercise for the first time. I managed a few days and just fizzled out. I should have read your suggestions then. Thanks anyway for sharing this. I'll keep this in mind.

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    Replies
    1. Hazel,
      If you write and you're comfortable with your style of creating, go with that.

      Delete
  17. Great list. Thanks for joining us on Thursday's Children! I'm a secret sadist myself and adore killing off my characters! Kristina x

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  18. Kristina,
    Thanks for telling me. Grin. I'll have to try to remember than when I read your work.

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  19. I love your tip on making a list of dirty secrets. Even though I'm not doing NaNo, I'll use that!

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  20. Good post! I've retweeted it if that's okay.

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