THE DEATH OF WRITER’S BLOCK
You’re in the middle of writing your novel and gasp! The worst thing possible happens…a mind-numbing case of writer’s block takes over. I’ve been there. You’ve (probably) been there, too.
Picture it…the keys are warm under your fingers, your coffee or tea is cooling because the ideas are flowing, and you’re too focused to take a sip. And then Brrrrrrrrrrpt! You freeze. The idea well you’ve been dipping into dries up, and you can’t imagine how to solve your main character’s problem.
Time to move away from your computer. And if you’re like me, that sounds unthinkable. But trust me on this. Grab a sheet of paper and pencil. (Oooooooo, how old-fashioned.)
Let’s turn the situation in your manuscript around. Forget how you are going to get your main character out of his/her scrape, dilemma, situation,complication, entanglement, trouble, crisis, predicament, hitch, glitch, quandary, jam, pickle, impasse, plight, corner, kettle of fish, stew, Pandora’s box, can of worms, or put more simply…mess. (Don’t you just love the thesaurus?)
Let’s shift our minds into a fresh gear.
Write your character’s problem in the middle of the page. Draw a circle around it. Next draw spider legs jutting around the circle and draw more circles–one at the end of each spider leg. In each of these circles write how you could make your main character’s problem even worse.
That’s right. Think backwards. When you can’t find a solution to a problem it often works if you reverse the problem.
EXAMPLE OF EVERYDAY THINKING:
PROBLEM: Ben wanders away from the annual company picnic and gets lost.
TASK: How can we help him find his way back?
POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS: He could shout for help. He could backtrack. He could climb a tree and look around.
EXAMPLE OF THE THOUGHT PROCESS OF A WRITER:
SAME PROBLEM: Ben wanders away from the annual company picnic and gets lost.
TASK: How can we up the tension and make his situation worse?
POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS: He could wander in a forest, stumble over a low vine, twist his ankle, hit his head on a rock, go unconscious, not gain consciousness until midnight, awaken to the sound of gruff voices nearby, recognize some of the voices of his co-workers he thought were his friends, plotting to set him up at work and get him fired.
RESULT: A page-turner novel!
Time for this Wednesday’s Prompt and Inspiration!
Either think up a problem and work out how to make it worse using the spider technique, or take a problem in the novel you are currently writing and see if you can up the tension. REALLY up the tension! With this technique, you might find you never get writer’s block again.
What are some of your ideas?