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Writer’s block is without a doubt the most frustrating thing that all writers experience and it can strike both beginning and experienced writers. Some writers get so upset that they actually find themselves slipping into various stages of depression. I used to laugh every time I would hear someone mention writer’s block before it happened to me the first time. Then one day the unthinkable happened, I sat down to write and found that not only could I not put together one acceptable sentence, I couldn’t even figure out what the character was supposed to do next. It was as if I had literally ran up against a brick wall.
There are different types of writer’s block as well. With beginning writers it usually takes one of two forms, each plaguing one of the two major writing styles. If you’re what I refer to as a “Seat-of-the-Pants” writer, you get a great idea and sit down and start writing. The first few pages go great, if you’re trying to write a novel you can usually make it through the first chapter or two just fine, then you begin to run out of steam. Suddenly you realize that you haven't got the foggiest idea where your story is going, why your characters are doing what they are doing, or what has happened to your original idea for the plot. This is probably the most common form of writer’s block that plagues the beginning writer.
There are also writers who suffer from the opposite problem. They like to plan their stories from beginning to end before they even start writing. Their outline is never completed, or their characters are never fully developed, they can never seem to get started on the writing. This is the other common form of writers block to plague the beginning writers.
If you’re trying to specialize in fantasy stories like I do, there is another form of over planning that you can get caught up in, creating the world for your story. Although the fantasy world should be rich and detailed, it should be allowed to develop as the story is unfolding not prevent you from doing the writing. If you see that start to happen, then you need to recognize it as another type of writers block.
First, a word of advice, do not convince yourself that it’s not going to happen to you. If you’re a writer, sooner or later you will slam into that figurative wall. It’s not so much a matter of IF as it is WHEN, writer’s block is going to happen. When it does, there are several things you can do while the dam is holding back the flow of creative juices through those synapses, as well as other things you can do to help you get around or over that barrier.
If you’re like me, clutter seems to build up in and around your work area. This can be an excellent opportunity to start a spring cleaning project, you may even find that the mess in your writing area is contributing to the writer’s block you are experiencing. Clutter in the area that you use for your writing may be blocking your creativity, preventing that artistic thought from taking root in your mind. Organization can be a very good preventive medicine for writer’s block.
Return to your outline. Your outline can be one of the best tools to get those creative juices flowing again. Examine it carefully, are you sticking to it? Are there places in your story where more dialogue or imagery can be added to nudge the story along? Are there repetitious places that needs to be cut out, or others that should be expanded? Very few writers are able to write sequentially, from the beginning straight through to the end of a story, I know I’ve never managed it. If you develop a case of writer’s block while working on one part of the story, it is likely that you would be able to look back to the outline and then jump right in on another section of your story with no problem.
If you do find yourself in the type of writer’s block that seems to completely stifle your ability to write, then there are some other tasks that need to be done while you wait for that creativity to return. It’s never too early to begin garnering publicity for your book; your book’s web site and your author web site need to be online ASAP, to try and create a demand for your book before it comes out.
Another thing you can do when experiencing writer’s block is READ. Don’t forget, that is how most of us got into writing in the first place. Get a copy of “1001 Ways to Market Your Books” by John Kremer or “Guerrilla marketing for Writers” by Jay Conrad Levinson, Rick Frishman & Michael Larsen and begin researching how to promote your own book. 98% of successful book publishing relies on Self promotion by the author and no one is going to teach you how to do that but YOU.
You can use this time to write short stories and articles that can be published on the free content web sites, each with a by-line containing; Your name, the name of your book, a link to your book’s web site and the site where they can purchase your book along with your email address. Everyone that uses the articles and short stories on their web site they’ll be giving you a link back to your sites which means more traffic and more chance of book sales. This will give you invaluable practice writing articles that can be published on the larger news and magazine sites after the book is officially released.
Last, but by no means least, every writer worth his salt keeps more than one writing project or book going at any given time. Then, if you happen to get a case of writers block on one of them you can just shift gears and work on one of the others. By the time I had signed a publishing contract on my first book, I was halfway through the rough draft of the second one, had a good start on the third and had a partial outline on the fourth.
Copyright 2010 by Timothy C. Everhart, author of Tianna Logan and the Salem Academy for Witchcraft, found at: http://www.tiannalogan.com/ and at: http://www.pdbookstore.com/.