The Author’s Boogeyman: Writer’s Block

Darker PagesOver brunch and Bloody Mary’s this past weekend, a friend asked me, “How do you deal with writer’s block?”

My response was simply, “I don’t. It’s bullshit.”

Now, I’m not saying I don’t ever get stuck on a story. Just a couple days ago, I hit a spot on in the 7th book of The Scary Tales where I couldn’t quite put my finger on what would happen next. I had these two characters stuck on a roof, and couldn’t figure out how the hells to get them off.

But you know what I did? I kept writing.

Just. Keep. Writing.

That’s what writers do. We write.

No painter gets afflicted with painter’s block. No sculpture was ever abandoned due to sculpture’s block. Just because we deal in words and not more solid forms such as rock or paint, doesn’t mean writers get a free pass to be lazy. If you hit a spot of trouble in your story, deal with it. Write more words down. Hit your daily word goal—be it 500, 1,000, or 2,000—and let the story percolate in your mind. Maybe what you wrote will have to be rewritten. Maybe it’ll be brilliant prose.

But the key to finishing your story isn’t to label your rough patch as “Writer’s Block.” Don’t give it a name and turn it into some kind of Boogeyman. That won’t help your cause or your characters.

Just. Keep. Writing.

Odds are, your story already contains the solution. In my case, I finished my writing for the day and then kept the story in the back of my head. As is often the case, the solution presented itself during my drive to work. I figured out that a bit of forgotten magic used earlier in the story could help my characters get off that damn roof. It all worked out.

Think of your novel or story as a living creature (I’ll let you decide whether it’s a fuzzy lap pet or a snarling beast). Either way, if your creature gets a little under the weather, don’t starve it by not writing. No, no, no. Feed it with words.

Just. Keep. Writing.

I guarantee your story will thank you in the end. Or at the very least, it’ll maybe avoid peeing in the rug.

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