This week we’re pleased to bring you a special guest post by Kristina Stanley - a bestselling author and the CEO of Fictionary.co, a company that helps writers tell better stories. Welcome, Kristina!
Like every writer out there, I get stuck sometimes. Where to take my story can seem like an abyss laid out before me, taunting me, intimidating me. I’m now working on my fifth novel, and I still have days where the words won’t come.
Writer’s block, as defined by the Oxford dictionary, is the inability to express one’s thoughts in writing due to lack of inspiration.
However, I’m not a fan of the term writer’s block. I think it gives a writer an easy way to stop working. When I began the first draft of my first novel, I didn’t understand how difficult writing was, how much I had to learn about the craft, or how often I would get stuck. But I didn’t give up. I had a dream, and I would pursue it.
To write when the writing gets tough, you need to put yourself in the proper mindset. Think of a job you’re paid to do. Any job. Do you get to say I don’t know what to do next, so I won’t do anything? Probably not, or you won’t get paid. You might even get fired!
I think of writing in the same way. Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean I get to stop.
So how to keep writing when your mind has gone blank and you’d rather go play with your dog? (I like to play with my dog a lot, so this is my go-to excuse for not writing.)
Here my 8 top tips for writing on:
Just start writing. Put one character on a bus, on a train, in a movie theatre, in an office. It doesn’t really matter. Have her talk to herself about what she’s doing there. Then pick another character and have him enter her space. You could be writing nonsense, but you’re putting words on the page. At some point, it will turn into something real, and you can delete the extra stuff. I find typing wakes up my creativity.
Take a break and exercise. Getting air to your brain can spur on the thought process. You probably guessed my exercise involves walking my dog.
Read a book on how-to-write. This always helps me. I try out an example or a lesson from the book, and before long I have a new scene.
Read a book of a bestselling author and look for ideas. Of course, don’t plagiarize. You’re just looking for inspiration.
Read a book with bad reviews and figure out what not to do. You know you can write better, so get motivated by this.
Find a writing partner where you commit to sharing a certain number of words each a week. You won’t want to let your partner down, and he/she won’t want to let you down, either.
Participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). To write 50,000 words in a month, you have to write 1,667 words a day. This is hard, but when you do it, you kick writer’s block out of the room.
I don’t believe writer’s block is a valid reason not to write. Writing is hard. Really hard. And sometimes it takes effort to do something hard.
The Tragically Hip song “Wheat Kings” features the lyric No one’s interested in something you didn’t do.
So true for writing!
Don’t let the imaginary writer’s block be an excuse for not writing. You have a great story inside you just waiting to be shared with adoring fans. Don’t you want people to be interested in what you write? I know I do.
Let me know in the comments if you have other ways to keep on writing when the writing gets tough.
Fictionary: Tell Better Stories
Fictionary is an automated approach that helps you evaluate your story against 38 key elements for Characters, Plot, and Settings.
Fictionary draws your story arc and compares it to the recommended story arc. You can see how to improve the structure of your story within seconds.
Why not try Fictionary? We have a 14-day free trial. We don't ask for a credit card until you're ready to pay, so there's no risk.
Thanks for reading!
Kristina Stanley is the best-selling author of the Stone Mountain Mystery Series, the stand-alone mystery Look The Other Way, and The Author’s Guide to Selling Books To Non-Bookstores.
Crime Writers of Canada nominated Descent for the Unhanged Arthur Award. The U.K. Crime Writers’ Association nominated Blaze for the Debut Dagger.
You can find her work on Amazon.