A story is never easy. The journey of writing is fraught with difficulties and many of them can catch you before you finish even your first draft and sometimes even before you start. Once you’re done, it can get even worse, but it is all part of what makes the journey worthwhile, all part of being a writer.
As much as writers love to write there is almost no writer on the planet who can claim he or she has never experienced writer’s block. It’s a frustrating problem in one’s work but it’s not abnormal and I’ve personally experienced it for a variety of reasons. Here’s a few writing tips I’ve learned over the years.
Beast One: One thing about writing is that no writer can stay interested in any story they’ve written – no matter how great – for too long at a time, no matter who they are. For example, Stephen King took from 1978 to 2004 to finish the first seven books of the Dark Tower series and those are far from his longest stories. We all eventually get burnt out from using the same characters, world or story and need a break. This is often the case of why writers sometimes can’t quite commit to sequels or finish a particularly long and overly complicated story. One’s creativity is done for the moment and you probably just need to take a break from this particular story or particular sequel and forget about it for a while.
Beast Two: Another less pleasant thing with writer’s block is that you’ve subconsciously picked up that the story is no longer worth your time. The characters, story, setting or something isn’t enough to keep you going. In this case, going back and changing something, usually major, will fix the problem but it may also just be time to give up and try a new story.
Beast Three: Much worse, is when you can’t even start a story. At that point you may be burnt out on writing in general and you probably need to go back to something that inspired you to write in the first place – whether it was from movies, games, books – until you manage to take off again. If that doesn’t work, maybe do something else for several months like fix cars or disappear in the hills or whatever it is that creates a suitable distraction for yourself.
When writer’s block is gone one must finish the story somehow and for myself I’ve always had a “ride along” style. I’ve never been an outliner type but some people just swear by them. I’ve done complex references for things and from time to time I get an idea for something I want in there and make sure it will happen “somewhere” in the story, but for the most part outlining was never my thing.
There’s really no right or wrong way to do it, although there are things that are “smart” such as “work on a computer and always back up everything,” but in general, one’s journey is personal and if an outline is your style, then it’s right, or if you don’t use them like myself, it’s wrong. No one can teach you which way works for you, and it’s up to you to discover your own method. Forcing someone else’s style upon yourself that does not work for you will hamper your success and make your writing more difficult.
And then when that’s all over and you do reach that success, after the whole writer’s block problem along with your outline, or no outline, and make the story work, you suddenly find yourself technically done with everything pretty right in the world but with a whole new problem set right between the fun of writing and the nightmare of post publication that generally comes shortly before your submission to Kellan Publishing.
This problem is known as editing. But that’s a whole other topic.