Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Fighting the Mid-Story Blahs

It happens to all fictional writers. Sooner or later we hit the wall with our current story and we
suffer through that old, well-known, feared syndrome called “writer’s block.” We fear it, we try
to hide from it, we fight it, but it comes—no matter what.

So what do you do when that dreaded ailment hits you? Do you fight it? Do you give in to it?
Lots of people say they know when it hits them and they try to shrug it off and get back to their
writing. For others, those blank sheets or empty days of staring at the computer screen or
playing games or just ignoring the latest work can start to pile up until those writers fear they
will never write again.

When writer’s block visits me, I try not to give in; but with each passing day I don’t write, I find the fear that I’ll never write again. That in itself can drive me back to the keyboard to prove that I can still tell a story, whether it’s a fiction work, or just a blog on not being able to write. When I was writing news full time, I knew I was going to have to write EVERY SINGLE DAY. There were no opportunities of taking the day off and I didn’t have a choice of the stories I was going to write. I had to write! And that is how I have approached writing fiction. If I want to be published, the writing needs to get done!Here are some ideas I’ve found for coping with writer’s block:

1. Write Something – anything – this is something I usually try first. If I find myself unable
to face my characters and my latest stories, then I do work on a blog or try writing a
lecture for one of my writing classes. Sometimes by doing that, I find new inspiration for
the fiction story I am working on. Often when teaching a writing class, I find that reading
over what some of those other students are doing makes me want to work on my own

2. Look over old stories – this is always a good way to get something finished. By reading
an old story that I started several months ago, I find myself with new ideas that I hadn’t
thought of before – maybe even something that had given me writer’s block and stopped
me back when I was working on this story. If there is something that was stopping me in
my current story, I can just set it aside and work on those old things and maybe get
something done. Usually finishing a work will propel me back into the next book or back
to the last story.

3. Get away from your desk and try write somewhere else – a change of scenery can be like
a breath of fresh air. Sometimes just sitting at your desk every day can seem like drudge
work. I am a big fan of going to a restaurant or coffee shop with a notebook and writing
long hand for a while. Then when I go back to my computer and transcribe the pages it
spurs me on. I have also been known to take my computer to a library or coffee shop to
write. Sometimes the change in scenery and just getting away from the house can spur
creativity. (Just don’t get sidetracked checking email or news headlines when you do

4. Try a plotting brainstorming session – I love to use this idea with friends or a writing
group. We will sit and toss story ideas around and I either jot them down or put them into
the notes feature of my phone. That way I have the ideas available anytime I decide I’ve
hit a wall in my writing. I can refer back to the notes and see if anything sparks interest. I
use this especially if I run into a plotting problem that needs extra help. Even non-
writers love to play with story ideas when they don’t have anything invested other than
offering their opinion.

5. Have a dialogue with your characters – sometimes I realize that my characters are either
not fully formed or I don’t know them as well as I thought I did. At times they get
stubborn and refuse to take those next plot steps. That can lead to a dead stop to the plot.
I just can’t seem to get that next scene written. Often a short conversation with those characters
can pull out a new idea or make me realize just what is ailing that character. After a
while, they usually cooperate and my story gets back on track.

These are just a few ideas to spark interest and get the story flowing again. I must admit there are times it takes getting away from the whole story for a while. You’ve just hit a wall and there’s no getting around it. At times like that, I will put something down—even if don’t like it--and let it sit and percolate. Often when I come back and check it later, I can either rewrite or make the changes that get the story moving again. Sooner or later the characters will start yelling and I’ll have to come back and finish their stories. I’m never sure what stops me from writing, but I know any or all of the above things can pull me back. Other writers tell me some of those methods work for them too. The key is not letting yourself get so frustrated that you never get your story finished. Look for any way that will help you get THE END written.

Good luck and enjoy your writing. Next week we will be back with another author feature.

Any questions, comments or ideas you use to get on track?

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