Since I’m still in the early stages of getting my first novel published – first draft done, first draft edited, only a thousand more repetitions of this to go – I’m possibly not the first authority to talk about overcoming the thing we writers fear most: the dreaded block. But a small voice can still make a big difference (picture a mosquito in your bedroom at night) so I thought why not share the things that have stopped me losing my mind over my work time and time again? They might just help a writer out.
Ask for input.
Top of my list is to turn to other creative people to ask for prompts. Sometimes you just need an injection of inspiration from an outside source, and asking for a prompt or two to work from is a great way to get going again. I’m in a handful of Facebook groups for writers and have a pretty active Tumblr following whom I can always rely on for help when I ask for it. First sentence prompts are good, so are three words, and emoji prompts are always fun. The beauty of asking people who know your work is that they’re likely to suggest something you can really work with. If you’re a romance author, sci-fi prompts from Google aren’t likely to be much help.
Read your old work.
Want to see how far you’ve come? Go back and read something that you wrote 12, 18, 24 months ago and see the difference. Maybe edit a paragraph or two, or recycle an old idea into something new (this may not work for published series authors for obvious reasons).
Read something new.
We’re all capable of picking up a well-thumbed copy of our favourite book as a distraction, but reading the same style and same author time and time again doesn’t always provide us with new inspiration. Think outside the box and reach for a book you’ve been meaning to try for a long time, especially by an author who is extremely different to your usual preferences and to your usual style of writing. See my TBR or winter book recs posts if you’re stuck for ideas.
Kill someone off or introduce someone new.
I’m not suggesting you have a serial killer emerge from nowhere and axe your main character to death in a sudden fit of pique. That likely will draw your story to a sudden and dissatisfying close (unless that’s a part of your plot, obviously), but introducing characters from different angles can shed a whole new light on the storyline you’re working on. Killing off a minor character can do that as well, especially if your main characters then have to react to a tragedy.
A quick Pinterest search reveals this: a goldmine. A variety of character profiles, tips from world-famous authors, downloadable worksheets and prompts for days. If there isn’t something in here that will throw you a lifeline of inspiration then I’ll be truly surprised. I already saw about ten things I love and I only scrolled for a minute or two!
Do you struggle with writer’s block? What do you do to overcome it?