Monday, November 12, 2012

Writers' Block, and the Art of Getting Out of the Snare

Image credit: Kelly Bean
At this time of the month, writers all over participating in NaNoWriMo feel like they don't have anything left in them, like they should quit writing and just return to watching TV in the evenings for three hours straight.

I have one piece of advice for you guys: keep writing.

It will get better, believe me. Even if you can't see the end of the tunnel yet, you will, and when you do, you'll be glad you didn't get behind.

The thing is, no one is making you write this novel. So if you want to quit, you can--which makes it a temptation nearly every step of the way. Your job in this is to not listen to that little voice in your head that says, 'heck yeah TV!' every time you start a new paragraph. 

I know I'm not all that qualified this month, because I have barely been writing anything (and by barely writing anything I mean that I have written roughly 10K, but I'm feeling horrible about it because that writing was actually good, and I didn't have to think about it all that much). I am stuck in the same rut you are: procrastination. 

When I first started out in the writing business seriously (June 2009), I had this insane idea that I was special, and that I would never get writers' block. I planned out my characters and gave them insane names that were sure to get them mocked at in school, had they been real people in the real world. I bought a brand new notebook, got a nice pen that wrote decently, and started writing.

Though I have no idea how long the actual novel was--though I do estimate that it was around 20K, not even a novel by standards--I finished the puppy in a mere three months. Every time I got writers' block I'd throw a new character or twist into the mix, and I'd go from there. And though it did get me out of ruts like *that*, it left me with a mangled corpse of a manuscript with so many plot twists and characters I couldn't keep track of them all.

I don't recommend doing what I did to get out of twists.

So what do you do when you've got writers' block? I recommend reading over the sentence where you got stuck, and completely reword it. Sometimes it's as simple as that, and sometimes it's a little harder to get out of the snare.

Reword the paragraph. Reword the entire chapter, if you must, so that you can move on. If you stop for the day because you think you'll come up with the answer tomorrow, odds are that you won't have it, and then you'll be behind by X amount of words.

And if you must, skip over the scene entirely, and continue writing. Once the month is over you can return to it.

But despite all that, odds are:

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