For today’s Twin Thursday with Rachel of Undivinelight fame, we’re looking at things you can do to keep working on your story while you’re facing down the jaws of writer’s block. This isn’t the same thing as hitting burnout; it’s not that you’re so sick of the story that you physically cannot look at it. At least in my case, it’s that I genuinely want to work, but the words won’t come. So here are some ways to stay connected to your story even when you aren’t progressing wordcount-wise.
- Worldbuild. Especially if you’re writing any sort of speculative fiction (fantasy, sci-fi, so on) or historical fiction of any stripe. Take some time to build out your setting, your cultures, your technology. You just might find something to kick-start your words!
- Flip your story. Open a new document or turn to a fresh section in your notebook and try telling it from your antagonist’s point of view. You might just get some much-needed insight into whatever is causing your block. Maybe you need your villain to attack this backwater village, but you just can’t figure out why they’d do so. Or you know you need your hero to come across this reformed henchman, but you don’t know how or why their paths intersect. Looking at the story sideways may show you.
- Revisit your outline. If you have one. Otherwise, go over your notes or original concept for the story again. Is the story you’re writing still the one you set out to tell? If it’s changed directions, is it for better or worse? Then you can either map out your story’s new direction and follow it or grab the reins and try to get it back on course.
- Noodle. Write character backstories, vignettes, scenes that you wish you had room for in your story but just don’t. Look up character prompts and questionnaires and fill them out. Let an alien land in the middle of your medieval fantasy just to see what your protagonist would do. Get yourself better-seated in your characters’ headspaces. You’re not married to these words, so just have fun.
Caveat: You don’t get to do this just to stall. You do still need to actually do words on your story. As much fun as side-pieces are, don’t get lulled into thinking you can do them forever.
- Write Anyway. I know, I know, you’re probably sick of hearing this one. But it really is the best thing you can do for yourself. You can chip away at the blocks forever, but the only way to blast through it is to keep putting words on the screen. Even if it’s slow. Even when you’re convinced they suck and nobody’s ever going to read this drivel. Write. Anyway.