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5 tips to combat writer's block

Aspiring writers often reach out for tips on writing their first novel or for continuing to write after that first big achievement. The most common question I hear is "How do you handle writers block?" Often, writers start out with a great plot idea and then as they dive in, they get hung up in the middle. I don't usually suffer block but there are a few tricks that help me stay on track.

  1. At the beginning or conceptual stage, I like to talk through the plot with a tolerant friend, beta reader or other trustworthy helper. I go over how the book will start, the main plot and how it will unfold, and then how it will wrap up. So there is from the very first, a beginning, middle and end.

  2. As I begin my manuscript, I create a title page and a contents page. Then I enter each chapter with a descriptive chapter title and a short paragraph of the scene that will happen in that chapter. I usually put those notes in blue ink so I don't forget to remove them when the chapter is done. I warn my beta readers who help me in the developmental stage that the outline notes are subject to change and they often do change as the characters come to life and the scenes develop. However, in mystery and suspense writing, this helps me make sure to include all the clues, the red herrings, twisty detours etc. It also helps me so that I don't leave any part of the story hanging out there without a satisfactory conclusion. (Readers go wild if you leave them in the dark about a character who is in the middle of something)

  3. I choose a muse- a cartoon character, a picture, a toy or anything that symbolizes my story or my scene for that day's writing. One day, I was writing on my patio and a small lizard hopped up on my table. I named him after one of my characters who was kind of reptilian and I took his picture with my phone. It added a little levity to my day and made my writing more enjoyable.

  4. Write scenes as you think about them. Sometimes I go back to my outline of chapters and notes, and add in some notes as create them in my mind. Other times, I jump to a chapter that I have been thinking alot about and just write it. That is especially true for me when I get about mid-way and I am worrying about a major scene or the ending. I will just go write it and get it out of the way. Then when I get there sequentially, I am ready to edit and improve the most important scenes.

  5. When I get lost in the middle or loose site of where the story is going, I go back and read out loud from the beginning I usually find that the story is much better than I was giving myself credit for having written.

Writers block is often about the writer second guessing their work, underestimating their talent or just loosing site of the direction. Hopefully these 5 little tricks will help you as much as they do me. As one of my favorite authors says. "You can't edit what you haven't written". So, just write, you can fix it later.

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