Writer’s block can have a devastating effect on those of us who write for a career, and those who write for pleasure, finding it a release from the daily grind of modern life. Like many of us, I have several stories gestating in my head at any given moment, so selecting a character from the many chatting amongst themselves, awaiting selection, should see to it that I’m never short of inspiration – right? Well, not really. At least, not all of the time, for there are occasions when creative motivation withers … when the river runs dry and there’s nothing among the debris left behind that stirs my imagination into producing anything other than a few scraps of material that rarely fit the bill.
If you’re currently suffering the same fate, please don’t think that you’re alone, for virtually every writer – professionally or otherwise – who I’ve spoken to about this has experienced the soul-crushing reality of being unable to find the right words from the uninspiring rubble on offer at that time. We sit behind the wheel of that bloody car we thought we knew so well, but it suddenly feels alien to us, and when turning the ignition, it splutters into some sort of action, only to stall moments later, stubbornly refusing to burst into life and take us to where we want to go. And it may continue to sit in the driveway for far longer than we could possibly have imagined.
I doubt there’s a one size fits all solution here, since we have such disparate backgrounds and circumstances, but some time away from the writing process might be a reasonable place to start. Going for a walk or a run, connecting with nature in the open air, listening, reading or watching something may work for you, then when you’re ready to have another bash at the writing process, create the space to start throwing some ideas around.
With fiction, consider a number of possibilities for your characters, however wild they might at first appear, for they can always be reined in further down the line. Try and generate some structural possibilities too, and to meld the two together – which characters might be the best fit for your story’s main and supporting cast, in what ways do you envisage them interacting, and how might those interactions play out? Try not to think too deeply about the story you want to write until the first seeds of inspiration start to sprout. When that happens, have a notepad to hand, or whichever device you record onto, and start to lay them down. Many ideas won’t survive your first cull, but that’s not important, for they are all part of the process, enabling those of a stronger, more befitting nature to stream through and act as the basis for your story.
Everything can come together at a later date, once characters and structure have been decided upon. Everything is then open to change, if some elements don’t gel or better alternatives come about. By then, the nightmare of writer’s block should be a distant memory, and if it rears its ugly head again, you’ll have the tools to stave it off and set yourself on another creative pathway.