I’ve heard it said that joggers hit a wall at some point in their training. A point in which they feel they can’t go any further or their legs just might fall off. Or at least that’s what I hear. I don’t jog. I try and then after .5 mile I feel like my legs are going to fall off so I stop. But I know that if I just keep pushing a little bit further, before I know it, I’ll be at .75 of a mile. I think for serious joggers, the same is true—they hit the wall, then they push through it and the rest is smooth sailing.
The same is definitely true for writers.
It’s true for me right now, as a matter of fact. I’m working on my NaNoWriMo project, which I started on a whim at the beginning of the month. It’s a story I’ve been debating about writing for at least 6 months. Finally, I just figured, what the hell. Why not? So Nov 1st I signed up for NaNo and got started. I did not have an outline, something I always write with.
12,000 words into the story and guess what? I don’t know what the hell my characters are supposed to do next! If I’d taken the time to outline, I’d simply look at my notes and see that after D they do E and then they’ll do F. But I didn’t do that this time. So now I’m sitting at D and wondering what will happen next.
Let me tell you, not knowing what comes next makes it very difficult to put new words on the page each day. Not to mention it’s supposed to 1666 of them to keep up with NaNo. Let’s just say that unless something changes fast, I won’t be ‘winning’ NaNo this year. Oh well. As long as the words I do have are good quality, I don’t really need validation from the NaNo gods.
So what can I do to make the words start flowing again?? I have a few ways that I implement whenever this happens to me. Here they are:
1. Brainstorm new “what if” ideas? What if…they pull into an abandoned gas station to get supplies but it’s not abandoned? (That’s probably the route I’m taking in my story today! Should be exciting!!) What if…her ex-boyfriend was just assigned to be her partner at work? What if…her child becomes terribly ill and the only option for medical help is the doctor and man who broke her heart? What if…their sunny day on the boat suddenly become stormy?
2. Write down scenes that I see coming up. Sometimes jotting down notes for future scenes I think I want to write will help me piece together how I need my characters to get there. (I’ll also be doing this today.)
3. Take a break and exercise. Sometimes the only way to get my thoughts sorted out for the story is to get moving and focus my mind on something else. Seems if I go for a jog (.5 miles baby!) on the treadmill or take my Indy Jones for a walk in the neighborhood, the situations in my head will start to sort themselves out.
4. Force yourself to write words anyway. Who cares what they are at this point? Just put something on the page, anything will do. You can edit it, delete it or completely reshape it later, but keep your fingers moving and just plow through that wall. It can always be fixed later.
5. If you really can’t write the scene you’re supposed to be working on because it’s just not coming to you or you don’t know exactly how to handle it, then sometimes the best plan is to just leave it and move on. Put in a (Fill in scene here) notation and move on to the next scene. By the time you’re done this new scene, you might have even figured out how to write the one you skipped!
I’m sure there are a ton of other methods to fixing your writing block and overcoming writing obstacles. I’d love to hear your solutions and thoughts! Please leave comments or stop by twitter and use the hashtag #ChickLitChat. You can also stop by our Facebook page too by finding us at ChickLitChatHQ.