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  • Writer's pictureJeff Kerr

Writer's Block

Writer's Block. Every writer knows it, every writer fears it. The successful ones overcome it. But how?

In my view, there are two types of writer's block: being stuck for an idea and being stuck putting words on the page.

Being stuck for an idea is, in my opinion, the greater challenge. It is also one I do not have a simple solution for. What I do is tuck the notion that I'm looking for something to write about in the back of my brain and remind myself of it throughout the day. Story possibilities then pop into my mind based on the the people I encounter and my experiences with them. If I do this long enough, I end up with two or three ideas for further contemplation.

I don't start writing a book until I have an idea of theme and plot. Characters flow from those two elements. I then write an outline of the plot points and reexamine them with respect to theme, keeping in mind that each plot point must serve a purpose within the overall context of the story. I don't necessarily know exactly what the characters will do in each of these plot points, but I know where they will start and where they will end up.

Finally, I sit down at my laptop, type the title at the top of the page and "Chapter 1" beneath that. Then I begin writing. If I have been careful enough to develop my theme, plot, and characters ahead of time, the specifics generally flow well with me. If, as is inevitable, I get stuck on occasion, I sit and think about it. If no solutions presents itself after 5-10 minutes, I turn off the laptop and go do something else for a while. I am constantly surprised at how often the solution will come to me while I'm cooking supper or taking the dogs for a walk. I also like to think about it in bed before I go to sleep, but have to be careful as this risks insomnia.

What I don't do is stop writing. Even if I'm stuck for an idea, I regularly sit down to write. Sometimes, simply re-reading the chapter I'm working on will trigger an idea in my mind. I've learned through experience that if I stop working on a book for a week or more, it is very difficult for me to get back into that project.

Well, that's how I handle writer's block. What's your secret?

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