Maybe you’ve experienced this.
You sit down at your laptop or notebook, fingers poised, pen in hand. You’ve got a nice mug of tea or coffee next to you, maybe you’re listening to your favourite [link] focus up sounds. You’re ready.
But you have no idea what to write.
I’ve been there. I’ve sat in front of my laptop, the little black cursor blinking at me like it’s the visual representation of the dang Jeopardy theme song.
It’s the worst.
So how did I finally beat my writer’s block?
All it takes is a little bit of planning.
I’ve mentioned this before, but I am fast converting from a planster kind of writer (check out this post if you have no idea what that word means) to a planner. Or at least, on the planner to panster spectrum, I’m moving closer to planner.
What does this have to do with beating writer’s block?
Writer’s block (at least for me) is just not knowing what to write next. What’s the character’s next course of action? How do we get them from the beginning to the climax?
But writing shouldn’t be the hard part. It shouldn’t be tedious and mind-numbing. That’s what outlining and planning are for!
Outlining and planning your story ahead of time, will prevent writer’s block.
In general, I let my story ideas percolate for a long time in my head for the plot points to reveal themselves. It takes a lot of patience, but that’s okay because I’m likely editing an old manuscript in the meantime. (Fun fact: I got the idea for manuscript 1 back in 2010 and didn’t start outlining it until 2016!)
But once those major plot points have been figured out, then I can do some serious outlining to set myself up for success once I start writing. This looks like outlining three major plot points (I learned this from P.S. Malcolm) and filling in the spaces in between with important scenes that will get the characters from point A to B.
Once I have that outline (it’s still not perfect, and might have some slightly foggy bits, and may undergo changes throughout the drafting process), I start writing! And with that outline, I have less thinking to do and more of what I love – just writing.
Another thing I’ve found helpful for avoiding sitting and staring at the blank page is making sure I’ve jotted down some specific ideas for the next writing session. It’s immensely helpful to sit down at the start of a session and see written, “these characters have conversation about x,” “feast, introduce character, flashback,” etc… It’s a little roadmap to help me write without racking my brain for ideas.
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To reiterate, the way to beat writer’s block is to do the work of planning ahead of time. It sounds super lame for those creatives that like to let their muse guide them, but I’ve found that my muse is a little more willing to help me out if I’ve done some of that work ahead of time.
Enjoy the journey,