Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Monday, October 18, 2010

How to Bust Writer's Block: A Guest Post from K.M. Weiland!

Hi, all. I am still writing my little heart out. I managed 24 pages last week! So excited. I miss reading your blogs so much, though. Today I'm pleased to introduce my first ever guest poster--K.M. Weiland.

K.M. Weiland writes historical and speculative fiction from her home in the sandhills of western Nebraska. She enjoys mentoring other authors through her writing tips, editing services, workshops, and her recently released instructional CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration.

Welcome to the Writing Chair, Katie!

How to Bust Writer’s Block With Variation

There you are, sitting at your computer, trying to write the next scene in your novel. So far today, you only have about a paragraph down on the screen in front of you, and you keep deleting and retyping most of that. You’re quite obviously stumped. Between the flicker of the cursor blinking against the blank page and the clock ticking away your writing time, you’re teetering on the brink of exhaustion and exasperation. You have writer’s block.

What to do?

In my recently released CD Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration , I spend an hour discussing ways to create inspiration and kill writer’s block. One of my most successful methods is recognizing the truth in success coach Anthony Robbins’s words: “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

So far, staring at the blank page and trying to rewrite that paragraph hasn’t worked very well, right? Working off that knowledge, it’s a pretty safe bet that continuing that approach isn’t likely to give you different results. So let’s try changing things up. Try a completely new angle of attack by utilizing any of the dozens of available story elements. Choose one of the following for your next paragraph and see what happens:

•    Set the tone for the scene by describing the setting.
•    Throw in some dialogue. Get two or more characters talking—or, preferably, arguing.
•    Try a different point of view.
•    Introduce a new character.
•    Let us see what your character is thinking through some internal monologue.
•    Add some action: what is your character doing?
•    Focus on the senses by asking yourself what your character can see/touch/taste/smell/feel?
•    Insert a completely unexpected element. Monsters in the closet? Long-lost Uncle Fitzwilliam? A secret passageway in the cellar?
•    Give your character a new goal. If he’s been reacting throughout this scene, ask him to act out. If he thinks he’s in control, give him something to react to.

Ignore your inner editor and just start writing. Open yourself to the possibilities that these new elements offer. You’ll be surprised at the vibrancy your story suddenly gains. You may not be able to use everything you write as a result of this infusion of variety, but I’ll wager that, at the very least, you’ll be able to wave goodbye to writer’s block and move past that frustrating paragraph.

Thanks for being my guest at the Writing Chair today, Katie, and thanks for the great advice. Be sure to check out Katie's website and her new CD if you need help conquering writing block!


Amie B said...

one of the things i do if i'm stumped - move ahead to a scene i know i can write (even if it's the end). usually that inspires me enough and i'll go back and wonder what the heck was so hard.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great suggestions! Much more productive than surfing the internet. ;)

LTM said...

great work on your writing, Angie! And awesome guest blog. LOVE Katie~ :o) <3

K.M. Weiland said...

@Amie: I'm admittedly too OCD to let myself do that, but, in my extensive outlining phases, I'll often outline backwards with a lot of success.

@Stina: Yeah, that surfing the Internet (even when it's "research") can definitely suck away a writer's time!

@LTM: Thanks for reading!

L.T. Elliot said...

Interesting post! I've heard a lot about K.M. recently. I'll have to check this out.

Thanks, Angie!

K.M. Weiland said...

Good things, I hope. ;) Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Lorna G. Poston said...

Great advice! But like you said, I am a bit too OCD to move forward when there are problems in front of me. May give it a shot though. What can it hurt? :p

Melissa said...

These are really great suggestions. I'll be keeping them in mind for sure.

Lori said...

Wonderful suggestions--I was so happy to discover the link to this post on Facebook. I blogged about writer's block today as well. One technique I've used is what I've termed as my own version of free writing: taking my charater out of the story and free streaming what they would have done/felt five years ago, ten, or fast-forward to the future. I'm sure there's a term for it...let me know.

K.M. Weiland said...

@Lorna: Looking at a problem from a different perspective always brings interesting new ideas to the table.

@Melissa: Hope they prove helpful in the future!

@Lori: Don't know if there's an official term for it, but it's a great idea. I enjoy putting characters into random situations and figuring out how they'd react.

Angie said...

Hey, thanks all for stopping by today! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I know I did! Such great suggestions from all of you. :)

Carolyn V. said...

What a great post! And great advice. I need it, I think I'm going through writers block. *cringe*

K.M. Weiland said...

@Angie: Thanks so much for having me!

@Carolyn: Just keep hammering away, and you'll break right out of it!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Great Guest Blog!!!

K.M. Weiland said...

Thanks for stopping by!

MT said...

That's an awesome list of writing prompts. Thanks for hosting Katie's post, Angie. And thanks to Katie for her ever encouraging direction to aspiring authors. :)

K.M. Weiland said...

Glad you enjoyed the prompts. Hope one of them proves useful someday.

Jolene Perry said...

Thanks! I keep this stuff in a file on my desktop for the days when I miraculously have time to write and nothing's there.

K.M. Weiland said...

Here's the miracle of having time to write when something *is* there!

Lindsey Edwards said...

I love "If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.”

It's def a quote to motivate!

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Hi Katie! Great post! Thanks for sharing your WB secrets! I've been feverishly editing my WIP (getting it ready for submission) and I actually tried to write a brand new story the other day.

It was fun, but I'm afraid of continuing because I'm wondering what's going to happen next? I need to think of something juicy that will always hook the reader! :D

Angie, thanks for having Katie as a your guest! Now I have a new friend.


~Elizabeth :)

K.M. Weiland said...

@Lindsey: That was a quote my father had hanging up in his office when I was a child. Stuck with me a long time!

@Elizabeth: I'm a rabid outliner for that very reason. I like to have a road map guiding me to where the story is supposed to be going.

ali said...

Great article Katie! Excellent advice. AND I *love* that pic of you! Gorgeous!

Happy writing Angie!

K.M. Weiland said...

Thanks! The photo shoot for the new website was a lot of fun.

Sheila Deeth said...

I'm so bad. I write till I realize I'm writing rubbish then I stop. I used to walk the dog and talk to my characters to get things moving again. Now I drive the car (picking up son from station) and talk to them.

K.M. Weiland said...

Nothing wrong with that! When our conscious brain eventually writes itself into a corner, the best thing we can do is take a break and let our subconscious sort it out.

Angie said...

Hi all! Thanks for keeping up the conversation in my absence. New post soon! I promise.

Jackee said...

Those are some great tips, many are ones I've never thought of. Thank you, Katie!

And thanks for hosting, Angie!

K.M. Weiland said...

You're welcome! Hope they come in handy someday.