Hello Emma! I am in the middle of yor first book, and I have to say it is very interesting. I’m in the middle of writing my own novel, Im 14 and I’ve been writing mini stories also since I was around 10 also. I would like to have some tips from you on how to keep moving foward and what happens if you get writers block? Big Fan!
Experiencing a ‘block’ – when you can’t think of what to do next or when everything you try to doesn’t feel right – is part and parcel of any creative career, from writing to music and art. Sometimes it lasts a day, sometimes it can last months. Sometimes you’ll get it once or twice, sometimes every other day.
It sucks, but there are a few ways to get through it. Here are my Golden Rules for Avoiding Writer’s Block.
Keep At It – There’s this little thing called the ‘inner critic’ that most authors have. It’s good in small amounts – being overly egotistical can ruin your work – but it usually comes in large amounts, which is when we need to switch it off.
When you’re writing a novel the first step is getting it done. It’s a big project, and if you’re stopping to change things around, to edit and re-edit your opening and ideas, to fix up continuity and perfect that one troublesome paragraph, you’re going to get bogged down and you will grind to a halt. If you find yourself getting stuck perfecting it all, just stop and keep on going.
If you’re not happy with a scene, mark it and leave it. Get the first draft done, and then you can go back and start working on making it perfect. If you don’t finish the first draft that perfect opening chapter won’t be much use.
Mix It Up – If your chapter just isn’t working out, skip to a scene that does work. When I’m working on a novel, I try to keep it linear, but if I get stuck I’ll start fleshing out that future moment that I know is going to be awesome. In the process, sometimes I’ll figure out something about the characters that’ll make that section easier to complete – either way, I’ll be one step closer to the finish line.
In a more extreme example, I used to have a habit of switching projects entirely – so I’d be working on entirely different stories at the same time. If this works for you, go for it. I do it sparsely now because it slows down my progress and can get confusing, but it was fun for a while. One thing to watch out for is that, if you’re enjoying a side project a lot more than your main work, sometimes it can be better just to put your current piece inside and write what you’ll properly enjoy.
There’s also switching mediums – I like to sketch out character designs and key scenes to break up the writing, but the more musically inclined might like to create their own soundtrack for their works.
Be Inspired – Take some time off and read some books, watch TV and movies, play video games and listen to music. Getting a good experience of what’s out there, what works and what your enjoy is essential to understanding how creativity works, and will help shape you into a good writer (as long as you don’t let it drain away all your time, I had to cut down on TV and gaming to have more productive hours). Not to mention going out there and being social – things like having a good ear for dialogue and writing convincing characters mean going out there and understanding how people work, and how they interact.
If you get ideas for your story from all of this, all the better. Plagiarism (lifting stories and ideas straight from other sources) is a no-go if you want any kind of success as a writer, but giving your own spin on concepts is what this career is all about. Writer’s don’t just pluck ideas out of the air – it’s a bit more like cataloging everything you see, hear or experience and using it to understand how to make characters and stories, before shaping it into your own ones.
Personally, I like to listen to songs with a relation to my work and play through scenes in my head that match the music – I get a lot of very visual ideas doing that. I’ll also watch some TV shows with similar themes, or read books related to the idea. Right now I’ve got I’ve got a big reference book on religious mythology to leaf through, and I’ve been reading some Stephen King for some help with writing clean, believable first-person narrative.
Last but not least, relax. There’s no such thing as permanent writer’s block, or ‘losing’ your talent. Maybe you’re just pushing yourself too hard, or there are some other factors in your life that are getting in your way – stress and illness can wreck your creativity, as odd as that may seem. Spend some time with friends and family and take some time off, it’ll all come back to you soon enough.