There is a foolproof system to dissolving writer’s block. If you follow the steps in this post, you will never have to worry about writer’s block again. The system is simple, which is why it works. Here is a quick run down of the system.
The Writer’s Block Dissolver System:
Identify the type of writer’s block
Apply the solution
Test the effect
(If needed) Try other strategies
Retest the Results
See. Simple, right? It is. Once you know the common types and effective solutions, it comes down to applying and testing the results and getting back to writing.
6 Common Types of Writer’s Block
- No ideas
- Too many ideas
- Character Confusion
- How to Proceed
- Emotional Blockage
- Pain Point
Identify the Type of Writer’s Block
Let’s quickly deconstruct these 6 types of blocks. Identifying the correct type of block is the first step in the system. As you read them, see if you can remember times when you experienced any (or all) of these. I know I have!
No Ideas: One of the two most common types of writer’s block. It can be paralyzing, but it need not be for long. This usually happens when a writer is trying to come up with a story to write. The writer stares into space groping for something, anything that might produce a strong, workable narrative.
Too Many Ideas: The other most common type, this block is the opposite of the first block. In this form of writer’s block, a writer is overwhelmed with story ideas. They have too many options and succumb to selection paralysis. They ask themselves, “What idea should I choose? I like all 200 of them!”
Character Confusion: Sometimes writers get blocked in the middle of a story. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but one common reason is that the writer loses track of the essence of the character. They don’t know how a character will react to specific story events.
How to Proceed: A related block is not knowing how the story itself will proceed. This is the “What happens next?” block.
Emotional Blockage: All too often, there is an emotional reason behind the block. The reason, while possibly related to the story, usually involves non-story events, experiences and people. The writer is blocked due to unresolved emotions in their personal life.
Pain Point: Sometimes the subject matter or plot point in the story is so personal, the writer cannot go on. This could be related to a broken relationship, death, violence, loss or something altogether different. The main focus of this type of block is that the writer connects on a deep level with the pain of the story.
Apply the Correct Solution
Now that you have identified the type of writer’s block, it’s time to apply the solution. There are specific, effective responses to each different type. Here they are in a simple list and paragraph format:
- No Ideas: The truth is, you probably do have an idea. Lots of them. You just don’t know it. Here are few things you can try. Read the back cover blurbs of 20 published novels. You can go to the library, a bookstore or just browse Amazon.com. Brainstorm how you could combine any two or three of those ideas, or take a different slant on them. (Twilight and Bourne Identity? The Longest Ride and Harry Potter?). Next, write down five of your strongest beliefs about life (i.e., people are good, love always prevails, etc) and five things that you hate (i.e. violence against animals, abuse of children, diseases, etc). Now, consider a character who believed the very opposite of you. What kind of character would that be? How did they come to hold those polar opposite views? Ask, “What if?” What if a kid wanted to kill his parents and was right? What if your boyfriend was a serial killer? What if zombies were super intelligent?
- Too Many Ideas: Ask yourself the following questions: Which story do I feel strongest about? Which story has the most commercial appeal? Which story lends itself to the most conflict, drama, character change? Which story can be easily summed up in a sentence or two? Also, poll friends and family or your social media followers on which idea sounds best. Get feedback and then go with your gut.
- Character Confusion: Go back to the basics of character creation. What is the character’s biggest goal? Biggest fear? How have they reacted to previous story events? What is their internal conflict that relates to the external story conflict? What can they do to resolve both conflicts? What would any other person do? Look at their experiences, backstory and personality. What is the next logical step or action? Or, conversely, what would make things worse? Have the character do that. It’s probably more interesting.
- How to Proceed: Go back to the basics of story creation. What is the main conflict? What is the main goal? What options haven’t the characters tried to resolve the conflict or solve the goal? What has the antagonist been up to? Have they been passive or actively working against the protagonist(s). What could they do next to stop, hinder or destroy the protagonists? What bad thing could happen? What could go terribly wrong? What could be even worse? Ask and answer these questions and you will likely be on your way to happy writing.
- Emotional Blockage: Identify the emotion that is blocking you. Do an emotional scan of your body, especially for anger, anxiety and sadness (or depression). These three feelings often challenge people in general. Once identified, embrace and express the feeling in heathy ways. Talk to someone, meditate, pray. The key is awareness and compassionate expression. Once the emotion is naturally released, you will often be able to write.
- Pain Point: Usually, this block dissolves as soon as you acknowledge the pain. Then, it’s all about choosing to push through the discomfort as you write. One note: most great stories feel uncomfortable to write. The discomfort is a good sign that you are delving into the depths of the theme and character change. If you discover any unresolved pain from the past, try the emotional block solutions.
Test The Effect
You know the solution worked when you can get back to writing. You typically feel better, lighter and more relaxed. Other times, you might feel excited to get back to the story. You might have intense motivation. The litmus test is, can you write?
Still blocked? Try these other strategies. See below.
Try Other Strategies
Here are a collection of other solutions you can use to dissolve writer’s block forever. Experiment with them. See which ones work best for you or for the particular block you are currently facing.
- Move your body. Science is clear that changing our body changes our mood. Go for a walk, do yoga, lift weights, dance.
- Get creative. Try sketching the next scene for your story.
- Skip the scene. Write a later scene and come back to the current scene later.
- Write about the block. Write anything. Just get your pen, pencil or keyboard fingers moving.
- Role play: Act out the scene. Be all the characters.
- Get silly. Be goofy. Get into a kid frame of mind. They are creative geniuses.
Retest the Results
Repeat of the earlier step. Odds are, if you have made it this far through the system, you are well on your way to writing your story. Again, the only success that counts is, can you write?
I don’t have writer’s block. I have writer’s hurdles and I jump them every time I sit down at the keyboard. –Christopher Kokoski