Happy Friday and Happy Fall! My favorite season is finally here, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve traded in my shorts for comfy sweats and leggings, my tank tops for cozy sweaters and cardigans, and my cold brew coffees for pumpkin spice lattes. The best part of it all is that I don’t have to look hard or far for inspiration these days. Since TWOLC, Book One kicks off in late October, all I need to do is step outside or open the blinds to take in the sights, sounds, and feel of the crisp and colorful fall weather. And this weather has been beyond inspiring. My creative juices are flowing, and I couldn’t be happier.
Speaking of writing, I’m going to talk about what I do when those words just won’t flow. I know I’ve mentioned writer’s block before, but since many writers are struggling with it, I figured I’d give you all an in-depth look at how I tackle it. I’m also going to talk about National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo for short, which is how I’ll be referring to it in this post. So, grab your drinks and let’s talk about what I do when my characters go radio silent.
Breaking Through the Block
Writer’s block is a bitch to deal with, and it usually hits at the worst imaginable times—like when I have a looming deadline that I need to meet. There’s nothing worse than staring at a blank page and being at a loss for words. There’s nothing worse than not being able to visualize the scenes I need to write or hear my characters’ voices. Those are the days I want to bang my head against the desk repeatedly out of sheer frustration. But thankfully, I have ways to get my characters talking and spare myself from the unnecessary head traumas.
Music. Music is one of my biggest sources of inspiration. I have a playlist for everything. I have playlists for entire books, I have playlists for each of my characters, and specific scenes. If I’m working on a new scene and I’m drawing blanks, I’ll make a playlist for it. Sometimes it’s the melody alone that inspires me, while other times it’s the lyrics that draw me in and connect me back to my fictional world. But most of the time, it’s a combination of both. I can always find the perfect songs to fit the mood of my characters and their scenes, which helps get those words flowing again.
Aesthetic Boards. I’m addicted to making aesthetics. They’re one of my main sources of inspiration and procrastination. I can spend hours sorting through files of pictures. In fact, sometimes just looking through those images is enough to give my inspiration train steam to get going again.
Read Past Scenes. When I get stuck moving forward in my story, then I’ll move backward and read through the last few scenes I worked on. This helps me connect with my characters, connect with the story, and gives my brain the jumpstart it needs so I can get writing again. But sometimes reading through past scenes alone isn’t enough. Sometimes the best way for me to reconnect with my characters is by reading through their greatest hits, also known as my favorite moments. This helps me form a deeper connection with my cast and gives me an extra kick in the head that I need to get the words out.
Work on Something Else. I prefer to work in chronological order, but it doesn’t always happen that way, especially when I’m blocked. Sometimes, I’m just stuck and there is no moving forward to the next scene. That’s when it’s time to skip ahead and work on another scene in the same book, or work on another story completely. Whether it’s planning, plotting, sketching out scenes, or writing new scenes, shifting gears usually breaks through the block.
Free Write. Sometimes nothing works. Sometimes, I need to push through and just write. It doesn’t matter what, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s shit—and it usually is shit, especially at first. But getting those words down is what’s most important, no matter how crappy and clunky they are. It’s kind of like warming up a freezing cold car in the dead of winter. It might not even start at first, and when it finally does it still takes time to warm up, but it eventually does. Same with free writing. The start is often slow and shaky, and it might take a while for the words to flow, but they eventually do. Even if I’ve written five hundred words of crap, that’s five hundred words I can edit later on.
Journal. If I have a lot on my mind and I’m stressed, one of the first things I’ll do is pull out my journal and write down my thoughts. It doesn’t matter how random or mundane they might be, journaling helps me release some of those pent-up emotions that might keep me blocked. Releasing all that mental clutter makes room for the creative clutter to make its way back in.
Take a Break. Sometimes the best remedy for writer’s block is to walk away and shift gears for a bit. This is my last resort, but it works the best when I’m starting to burn out. Nothing will pull me back into my fictional world faster than doing something else I love. Whether it’s reading, watching one of my favorite shows, cooking, exercising, or playing The Sims, the minute I immerse myself into something else, is the minute my characters demand my undivided attention. Taking a break never fails and is guaranteed to get the words flowing again.
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)
NaNoWriMo is an annual writing event that takes place each November. The goal is to write a novel or fifty thousand words in thirty days. Now for me, fifty thousand words is only half a novel, but it was still great practice to get into the habit of writing each day. Not to mention, it’s a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I’m not going to be participating this year, because I’ll be busy working TWOLC, Book One revisions. If you’re a new writer and plan on participating, I’m going to share a few quick tips.
Plan Ahead. They don’t call this Preptober for nothing. You don’t need to plot out your entire novel, but you should have some semblance of what your story is going to be about. This is the perfect time to do any research, set your cast of characters, and find out what their goals are.
Just Write. Don’t worry about getting that first draft perfect, just focus on getting the story down on paper first. You can always edit after.
Don’t Panic. Don’t freak out if you miss a day. Don’t stress yourself out if you don’t hit your daily word count. You can always catch up later, and even if you don’t, it’s no big deal. NaNoWriMo is meant to be fun.
Self-Care. You wouldn’t believe how many writers are sleep-deprived in November. I used to be one of those writers. Stay hydrated and get plenty of rest. Sleep deprivation and burn out are not worth it.
Have Fun. This speaks for itself. Have fun writing your story. Have fun with your friends and remember to celebrate every victory, no matter how small.
With the holiday season rapidly approaching and my free time dwindling, I’ll be taking a break from my Writing Life Blog in November. Character Blogs will continue. Daniel’s blog will be posted on Friday, October 30th, and Luke’s blog will be on Friday, November 27th. My next Writing Life Blog will be on Friday, December 4th.
Ryan’s Interview Snippet is posted, you can check that out under the Extras tab. Ash’s Interview Snippet will be posted by the end of the month, followed by Marissa or Raichel’s at the end of November, so stay tuned for those. That’s all I have for you today. Until next time, stay safe and stay healthy.