with guest Sarah Ladd.
Has this ever happened to you? You are knee-deep in your writing project, developing characters and creating settings, when all of the sudden … WHOOSH! Your mind goes blank.
Whether you are on a deadline or you write in your free time, writer’s block can be terribly discouraging – even paralyzing. What’s worse, you never know when it is going to strike. Writer’s block does not discriminate: You may be “plotter” who has every scene outlined in detail, or you might be a “pantster” who is always surprised by what you write next. Regardless of how you approach your writing, one thing is for sure – no one wants to waste precious time by not being able to come up with the words!
So without further delay, here are 10 tried and true tips to get your creativity – and words! – flowing.
#1. Switch up the point of view.
Sometimes we can get the words on the page, but the words do not seem to “flow”. If this happens to you, why not try telling the scene in another character’s P.O.V.? Allow yourself to take a fresh perspective on what is going on in the scene – see, hear, and feel it from another character. This altered scene might not make it to the final version, but by doing this little exercise you might gain a viewpoint you did not expect.
#2. Chat about it.
This one is a biggie, friends. Who can understand the frustrations that come with writer’s block better than another writer? So call that writer friend. Meet with them for a brainstorming session. Talking out loud about your story can make you think about your story in a different light. A few minutes of brainstorming can save you hours of frustration in front of a blank screen. And who knows – one day you might be able to return the brainstorming favor one day!
#3. Dive into backstory.
Occasionally we get stuck because we write one of our characters into a situation, and once they are there we don’t know what they should do next. One way to work through this type of issue is to have fun with backstory. Go ahead … interview your characters about their childhood, or even take it a step further and write a scene about the character’s early life. Again, this will probably never make it into your actual book, but sometimes getting back to the basics with your characters and diving into their internal motivations can give you the jump start you need.
#4. Make a list.
Are you a list maker? If so, why not try making lists to move your story forward? If you are having trouble with a scene, write down five things that MUST happen in that scene. It could be an action or a snippet of dialogue. If that isn’t enough to get the words flowing, write down 5 more things. Pretty soon you will have a mini outline, and you can just take it from there!
#5. Go on a virtual “settings” vacation.
Does your book take place in a unique setting? The old west? Victorian England? Modern-day L.A.? Take a little break and watch a movie that takes place in that setting or listen to some music that would be accessible in that setting. Be inspired by what you see or hear. Or, if you are a Pinterest user, take a few moments to create a Pinterest board. If you are a Spotify user, think about making a Spotify playlist. You are bound to see or hear something that will jolt your creativity.
#6: Read. A lot.
One of my favorite quotes on writing is from Stephen King. He said, “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Wow. And that is so true! If you are losing your way with your story and the words just won’t come, step away from the computer and pick up a book. It can be a book in your genre, a classic, a book on writing craft, or a book totally unrelated to your project. I really don’t think it matters what type of reading you do. Sometimes, just getting your head out of your own story and spending some with other words with jump-start your creativity.
#7. Take a break.
Upcoming deadlines and tight schedules can make you feel that if you aren’t making every writing minute count, you are failing. But sometimes, forcing words can be counter-productive. Take a walk or go to a yoga class. Meet a friend for coffee. Bake something. Go shopping. Sometimes a little break can be the ticket to renewing your vigor for your story. But let me offer this word of caution … don’t take too much time off! Writing is like a muscle … if you don’t use it frequently, it grows weaker. So take a break … just make sure you get back to it!
#8. GO ahead – jump forward.
Do you know what will happen next in your story, but you aren’t sure how to get there? Go ahead and write the scene you know that is coming, and then write backwards. It could provide the insight you need to get your current scene hopping!
#9. It’s all about the dialogue.
Sometimes when I sit down to write a scene and I am not sure what should happen, I only write the dialogue. No setting, no descriptors, no action – just dialogue. If you can just hear the words in your head and get them on the page, then you can go back and fill in the details. In a scene where the dialogue is key, this trick can help make sure you give your scene the structure it needs.
#10. Don’t beat yourself up.
This is another big one. I will go out on a limb here and say that the majority of writers stare writer’s block in the face at some point in their career. Sometimes an illness or an issue at work can silence your inner storyteller, and the busyness of life or the hectic nature of daily schedules can zap our creativity. Just remember – don’t give up! Even getting 500 words on the page a day can keep your story moving forward.
So … Plotters and Pantsters … We want to hear from you! How do you get unstuck?
Sarah E. Ladd has always loved the Regency period — the clothes, the music, the literature and the art. A college trip to England and Scotland confirmed her interest in the time period and gave her idea of what life would’ve looked like in that era. It wasn’t until 2010 that Ladd began writing seriously. Shortly after, Ladd released the first book in the Whispers on the Moors series, The Heiress of Winterwood (2013). That title was the recipient of the 2011 ACFW Genesis Award for historical romance and is a finalist in the Debut Author category of the 2014 Carol Awards. The second book in the series, The Headmistress of Rosemere (2013), was on the ECPA best-seller list for several months, and the third book in the series, A Lady at Willowgrove Hall, spent time on the CBA best-seller list.
Her newest release, The Curiosity Keeper, released in July 2015. Ladd also has more than ten years of marketing experience. She is a graduate of Ball State University and holds degrees in public relations and marketing. Ladd lives in Indiana with her husband, daughter and spunky Golden Retriever. To keep up with Sarah E. Ladd, visit www.sarahladd.com, become a fan on Facebook (Sarah Ladd Author), or follow her on Twitter (@SarahLaddAuthor).
A mysterious stranger, a missing gem, and flying sparks! Don’t miss Sarah Ladd’s new book, The Curiosity Keeper. Caught at the intersection of blessings and curses, greed and deceit, these two determined souls must unite to protect what they hold dear. But when a passion that shines far brighter than any gem is ignited, Camille and Jonathan will have to decide how much they are willing to risk for their future, love, and happiness.
Today one commenter will win a copy of The Curiosity Keeper. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.