We all know that writer’s block sucks. Be it lack of motivation, lack of direction, or lack of material, I’m sure we all know exactly what it’s like to hit that point where you have absolutely no idea what to put on the page next. It seems like the busier I get the more often I hit this area, and a lot of time’s I’m just too preoccupied to take a moment and ask myself “what now?”
“What now” usually is just “time to stop” in my world. Problem is, I tend to use the break in writing as a roadblock rather than a detour. When we are writing, we can think of it as if we are in a car on a trip of some sorts. We make turns, we follow windy roads, we might get lost sometimes, but ultimately we are trying to get somewhere. My somewhere tends to be a truth of some sort, some kind of universally recognized element of the human condition told through the eyes of a unique individual.
And I can’t get there if I’m sitting in front of a giant “BRAIN CLOSED” sign, can I?
I’m not going to pretend I know exactly how the brain works, and I’m not going to offer a scientific explanation for writer’s block. I will say, however, that I do believe that if you spend enough time tweaking and developing an idea, the best version of that idea will eventually be the product of all your labors. That being said, perhaps we sometimes run into a wall with out creativity because we subconsciously know there’s a better direction than the one we are pursuing. Consider the fact that we never seem to run into a dead end when the creative juices are flowing, but usually after a little slump between good ideas. And what pulls us out is always a fresh batch of good ideas!
None of this is any revolutionary thinking, what I’m really trying to do here is suggest that the next time you think you’ve hit the infamous block, take a step back and consider your options. Is the plot the problem? Maybe something happened a little earlier that doesn’t quite fit; if you backtrack and find the problem, you can start on a fresh “detour” and get back on track. Is it because you wandered away from your purpose? Lost sight of a goal? Characters aren’t what you expected? You can fix any of these problems by simply backtracking and taking a different route. As long as you always imagine yourself moving forward on a journey to your desired ending, it’ll turn out great!
That being said, back tracking and rewriting are time consuming and tedious tasks. This, I would say, is what separates serious writers from hobbyists. There is absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing writing as a fun way to get your ideas out there and share with others. However, tedious and painstaking attention to every element is what separates a good story from a truly amazing read. Trust me, I’m guilty time and time again of not making an effort to save myself from the sinking ship of a writing dead-end, sometimes I just plow right over that sucker and keep going. While it technically works, it’s like trying to cover up an ink stain with Elmer’s glue; it might not look that bad at first glace, but the mistake is still there ’cause you didn’t take the time to scrub it out.
This post feels like a lot of word vomit, so I’m going to stop here and hope this makes a little bit of sense. Bottom line: if you get mucked down at any point in your writing, take the effort to rewind a little and smooth out your hiccups. Take the detour, it’ll be worth it in the end!
Until next time,