Motivation and the Evil Block

on Tuesday, June 17, 2014
    One of the hardest things writers encounter are blocks.  Mental blocks make it incredibly hard for a writer to keep writing.  It's hard to say what causes a mental block because every writer is different.  Every writer has a different process.  My process consists of lots of research, hand writing a really rough draft while drinking Dr. Pepper, and finally typing up a less rough draft to get feedback on (thanks Husband of mine for finding my typos) and usually all this is done while listening to some movie scores (right now it's How To Train Your Dragon 1 & 2).  
    Every writer also has different fuel for writing.  Some write to overcome emotional disorders.  Others write because the creative flow is so overpowering they can't not write or create in another way.  It can also be a combination of the two.  
    Whatever it is about different writers, we all have something in common.  We all struggle.  How do we get motivated when we feel absolutely no motivation?  How do we get motivated to get motivated?  
    Because every writer is so unique, there isn't one solution to that problem.  Sometimes we can get motivated just by trying parts of our routine, i.e. drinking Dr. Pepper and listening to movie scores.  But sometimes that isn't enough to get our thought flowing down to our fingers and onto the page.  Sometimes we need more of a push.  
    There are many ways to get out of a block, so here are just a few ways to respark the creativity in the mind.

1. Reevaluate your characters (including the villain!  They are just as important to the plot as the hero)
    How do we go about doing this?  It isn't enough to simply think about our character.  We have to actively write about our characters to get words flowing again.  My advice is to do a character sketch or fill out a character questionnaire (like this one  This will get focus your thoughts on your character and how their mind works.  Maybe you'll find something you never noticed before about them, the conflict, or their enemy.
    If a character sketch or questionnaire is not helping, then maybe it's time to head back to the original focus of the hero (or villain, because they are a hero in their own mind).  Rethink your character in accordance with the hero's journey to evaluate their personality and actions.  And remember, your characters ARE NOT PERFECT.

2. Add a subplot
This is something I need to work on in my writing.  I focus solely on the main plot, so I have found this link has some amazing advice on how to go about adding in a subplot  A subplot is incredibly important (especially when your story is as short as mine tend to be) because it adds depth to your plot and characters.  It will help move the story along, sometimes in a way you never thought it would. It is definitely something to think about when struggling with a block because it refocuses your mind on the original plot to get ideas flowing once again.

3. Use this flow chart to identify the source of the block and proceed from there

    I have found this chart to be incredibly helpful when sorting thoughts.  However, this chart only works when you are already motivated to write because it directs your writing.

4. Take a break from your plot and insert your characters in other plots from writing prompts  
    It helps you get to know your characters in another light, and it can even spark ideas for scenes that you want in your plot.  Also, it helps you get out some rough sounding writing until the word flow becomes steady again.  Here are a few of my favorites. 

    If this is a solution that helps a problem you face often, I would recommend buying a book called 642 Things to Write About because it is full of prompts like these that will spark the creativity once again.  Here is a link to order it online.

5. Look over your plot 
    If you haven't plotted out your book, you need to.  It is incredibly important to know what is going to happen before you get there.  I'm not the kind of writer who thinks the book needs to be planned out to every tiny detail, because that's what first drafts are for.  However, if you don't know how your book is going to end, it's going to be a lot harder to get to that final point.  
    Something that I have found that helps me get back into the writing groove is to look over my plot and focus on individual scenes.  I picture the scenes in my head and find words to describe them.  Sometimes the only thing I get out of it is an idea for an additional scene, or a quote that I really want my character to say, but at least it gets my mind thinking about where the book is going.
    Focusing on the climax is something that I find incredibly helpful.  Usually the intensity of the climax reminds me why I want to write this book, or why I'd want to read a book like this.  The climax is where the whole book revolves, so focusing on getting to that point usually motivates me to move through the parts that aren't as exciting because getting to that climax is worth it.

6. Read a book
    Sometimes the best thing to do is to take a break from writing and read something else.  While reading a new book is interesting, I would recommend rereading something you've read in the past so as not to overwhelm your brain with something new.  While you read, focus on something specific, like tone, the way characters are presented, or even something so minuscule as a literary device.  This is easier if you are rereading a book because you are not as focused on the plot or characters, but rather the writing style.  Reading lots of different authors is important to the growth and development of any writer's style.  Writing must always include reading.

7. Always keep this in mind  

    And if you need more quotes about writing from famous authors, then here is a link to a huge list of quotes that I found.

    I know this post is almost writing inspiration overload, but I hope it is one that gets passed around from writer to writer to overcome the writing block.  I know it will help me.  Keep writing!



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