So I’m stuck. I get stuck all the time, looking at this vast lego-block looming in front of me, making me feel like my mind is blank because all I can see is this blank wall in front of me. Sometimes, stepping back away from it a little helps, because I can suddenly see how to go around it, or over it. But it occurred to me today that maybe I could use blocks as building blocks.
If I’m stuck on writing, I can step away from the computer and do something else for a bit. I did that yesterday, baked cookies and bread and… ok, this won’t work, we’ll be fat as ticks by the time the book is done. Today I tried exercise, and art. The exercise to make up for the cookies, and give my brain a chance to disengage and get that distance I needed. The art, for inspiration, and I found it.
For me, the right art at the right time can be like striking sparks off a flint and steel. Today it was photos of abandoned asylums. It had nothing to do with my work in progress, but it sparked my brain on the sequel to my novella set in an asylum, and I think you’ll agree these photos are profoundly chilling and vividly imaginational (totally a word). If you’re working on a horror story, they could be excellent sources of chilling settings. Some days I like the cute and cuddly, other days I’m a little edgier.
Working on a story to meet a deadline, or an order, for an anthology, say, or with a collaborator, might require special efforts to get unblocked. Like this pair, who did, after, all, get an A+ on their effort! That might not help one of us, who would prefer to write a story with, you know, a plot, and characters our readers can identify with.
I find it most difficult to write bridge scenes. No, not the ones involving trolls, although I have admittedly written a few of those, but they were more action scenes. Bridge scenes are the ones where nothing much it happening, but you need them to bridge between one plot point and another. Well done, they can flesh out world-building, strengthen characters, and be fun to read. However, if you get too bored, so will your reader. I mean, you can’t always be throwing rocks at your characters, but there are times I’m tempted. Fantasy: Trolls heaves boulders. Science Fiction: Asteroids! Romance: bratty kid hurls snowballs. Western: Flash flood with lots of rocks that will pulverize our Hero and his noble Steed should they be caught in it.
Admit it, you’ll use one of those sometime soon.
Being the odd person – check that, Odd Person – that I am, I also will stop and create art. A bit of arting around (make sure you leave off the “f” or you’ll regret it) can sometimes shake loose the creative gears and get them working on the other problem you were having. I’m truly grateful for the discovery of various digital art apps and sites where I can quickly and relatively easily doodle without having to set up paints brushes, and paper, then have to clean up afterwards.
I do use music when I’m writing, but I try hard not to stop and fiddle with it too often, lest I fall into the rabbit hole that is my music library. However, if what was working for one scene is annoying in another – I like symphonic metal for action, and classical for more contemplative scenes, for instance – you may want to play around until you find what you need. Just maybe set a timer, if you have a short writing time.
What works for you when you get stuck? I have a feeling that there are as many techniques as there are writers, but you never know. You might pick up a useful hint, or something that works for a change. Oh… and legos, if I had some, would absolutely get played with when I’m blocked. Just so you know!