Because we know the painstaking work that goes into extracting a thought from our brains and getting it on paper (or into a Word doc… same thing), we often find ourselves “married to our words”.
We love them. They’re our pride and joy. We go to great lengths to make sure *nothing* comes between us and them.
So, what happens when those words we love and protect at all costs begin to come between us and “The End”?
Well… that’s when you know it’s time for a divorce.
Yes, on occasion, we have to let those pretty lil’ jots and tittles ascend to the great dictionary in the sky.
*plays world’s smallest violin for all the writers who just shed a tear*
Breathe. Grab a sheet of lined paper from one of the many, many notebooks all wordsmiths tend to keep on hand ‘just in case’. Now, dry your eyes with it 😀
I learned a long time ago that writer’s block is merely an illusion. It’s that go-to excuse we all rely on when we can’t figure out how to express what’s keeping us from moving forward in our stories.
“I don’t know where to go from here.”
“I think my muse stopped speaking to me.”
“I’ve just lost my mojo.”
“I think I just need to take a break from it.”
Of course, sometimes these reasons can be quite valid, but we have to keep in mind that all word clogs are not created equal. Instead of pointing the finger at yourself as you search for what went wrong, use that same finger to scan your manuscript and determine where your story went ‘left’ when it should’ve gone ‘right’.
Nine times out of ten, you’ll be able to pinpoint the exact moment it began to feel like a push to get words out. That’s it! That’s the breakdown in your plot. Go back to that moment in the story and amputate the paragraph, the scene, the chapter(s) that stopped your flow. Doing so may require you to go back to the drawing board in terms of plotting, but, trust me, it’s for the best.
I often find that the section I divorce is a problem because one of four things happened:
- My character did something unlike themselves and it created a ripple effect within the story that made things feel “off”.
- The section was mostly fluff and I, unintentionally, slowed the pace of my story by adding it.
- The section contradicts a pivotal, upcoming scene and I didn’t realize it until I had the “divorce epiphany”
- The section creates too many loose ends, ones I didn’t intend to have to clean up in the end and now I feel stuck. Ex: Because character X killed character Z instead of just calling the cops and letting them handle it, I now have to deal with the legal ramifications. Because, if I don’t, the story won’t feel authentic.
The Wrap-Up: Identify what doesn’t feel right, cut as much of it as necessary, refocus the scene and carry it out in a way that doesn’t disrupt the flow of the story.
If you’ve got tips to combat writer’s block, share them below in the comments!