We’ve all experienced it. Writer’s Block. Yeah. It sucks.
Sometimes, Writer’s Block hits before we’ve even begun. Who all has sat in front of a blank white document staring at that cursor blinking and wondering what to possibly put on the page? Don’t be shy. We’ve all been there.
Sometimes, Writer’s Block hits mid-prose. Things have been going well, but now you are inexplicably stuck. And the longer you sit and try to figure out what comes next, the more discouraged you get, and the more you start to hate your prose.
Over the years, I’ve learned that Writer’s Block isn’t exactly Writer’s Block, as in a mental block preventing you from going further. Writer’s Block is more of your brain telling you to skip the “boring” scenes and get back to the action.
When thinking of your prose, you often go into the writing process knowing many key elements (or, at least, you should. We’ll get into outlining within the next few blogs): who the main characters are, what the central plot is, and what some major plot points are. From here, your writing consists of getting from plot point A to plot point B to plot point C and all the way to the ending paragraph at plot point Z.
I’ve come to find that when I hit “Writer’s Block”, I’ve just word vomited out plot point F in a brilliant flurry of words, and now I’m trying to figure out how to transition to plot point G. What characters should have what conversations? What should be shown? What needs to be included for plot point G to occur?
If it doesn’t come to me quickly, I skip it.
Yes, skip it.
In brackets, I write something like [Edwin and Blythe have a conversation about (mild plot points) and decide (on something)]. And then I move on to the next scene, which should get us to plot point G. Just bracket your synopsis and move on. Literally every book I’ve ever written has featured the beloved synopsis brackets at least 6 or 7 times in the rough draft. Those synopsis brackets represent 6 or 7 times where I could have gotten stuck, lost momentum, and even quit on the book had I not bracketed and moved on!
When doing your first edits, that is the appropriate time to tackle your synopsis brackets with fresh eyes. Fill in those synopses with actual words and paragraphs! Make it pretty!
But do you know what you’ll find 50-60% of the time? Those synopsis brackets weren’t really necessary at all. The reason that you were stuck with “Writer’s Block” was that your brain–your very smart author brain–knew that you were about to write a mountain of pointless filler that would bore your reader and fail to move the plot. Upon your first edit, if the material in your synopsis bracket is irrelevant, delete it and move on. Or, at least, shorten it. Your readers (and your editor) will thank you 🙂
The same is true for beginning-level Writer’s Block. Introducing your characters is important. Painting a portrait in your reader’s mind of what they look like, who they love, and what they hate is very important. But no one wants to read an entire chapter about people’s hair and clothing. That’s how you get My Immortal.
Start your book prose with some action, and weave in the description here and there as you go. If needed, just skip what the first 1-2 chapters would be all-together and start with chapter 3. Again, when you go back to your first edit, you will likely discover that you can condense what your outline thought your first chapters were into a few paragraphs woven in with the action.
Remember, prose has a lot of moving parts. Don’t get stuck on just one. And remember to thank Writer’s Block for the blessing that it often turns out to be!