The blank page taunts you like your would-be hero’s arch-nemesis, or at least it would be like that if you could only write that arch-nemesis. Your soul feels the pain of the unspoken rebuke of that arch-nemesis as you stare at a pristine field of white. You have writer’s block. It’s not fatal though. Here are three ways to not just get over, around, or through writer’s block, but to SHATTER it into a million pieces so it will never bother you again (or at least reconsider before taunting you a second time).
The intimidating block of granite mocks your writing abilities by its very presence. So, leave it to its own devices. It only has the power you give it, and if you leave it to rest, it has no power at all. Go pick up a book by an author you want to emulate in the genre you are trying to write in, and read. See how someone else crafts their story but don’t just read it; STUDY it.
Study how they begin their story. What is the first sentence they wrote? What is the first paragraph they wrote? Why did he or she do that? Where do you think they are going and why? When is the first element of conflict? Study, study, study. Get your brain’s creative thought processes going.
As soon as you have some answers going in your head, put the book down and approach the granite block. I bet you find a crack in the otherwise pristine block. Wedge your pen into that crack and begin to force your prose through it onto the page. Before you know it you’ll have a draft rolling along.
Like reading someone else’s book, watching a movie presents us with an opportunity to discover how someone else approaches the creative process. Don’t just watch the movie though. Hold the remote so you can pause, fast forward, or rewind to study the function and the form of the art.
A movie is a visual project. It adds sight and sound to the experience of the imagination, and augments those senses to create a more concrete experience for the audience. Where the author must write everything, the movie can merely present the item as an image and the point is made. How does this help us break through writer’s block? Turn it into a creative exercise and ask yourself, “how would I describe that [INSERT EXCITING OR IMPACTFUL SCENE HERE]?”
Figuring out how to write what you’ve seen is a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Don’t forget though that every movie has plot holes. Can you spot them? Can you figure out how they should have done it so the hole wasn’t as big or there at all? What about the dialogue? Is that how you’d have that character talk? Is that what she’d say in that situation? Is that how the hero would react in your version?
Once the answers start moving through your brain, head back to the snow-white page. The perfect unmarred nature won’t seem so daunting. Take the sledge-hammer of the pen or keyboard and bash away at that block. Chips will be flying in no time and soon you’ll be standing in a bed of pebbles as your draft is on its way to completion.
The last technique to overcome the writer’s arch-enemy is the simplest really. Do something to the page. Do anything to the page. It doesn’t matter what, just do something.
For instance, format the page with a header or a footer and put something in there. This should be simple stuff related to the work you’re currently trying to accomplish. Some editors, agents, or publishers would like to see the author’s name on every page along with the page number so do that either in the header or footer. Put a watermark on the page that reads simply “DRAFT” and leave it at that.
The easiest thing to do is move to the center of the page and type “Chapter 1” or whatever chapter you happen to be on. If that’s not appropriate for your writing work, type your name, type a favorite quote, or type the words on the item that is the closest to your reach. The point of this exercise is to have put something on the page. What this does is cause a shift in your mind that you actually did and can write something in that space.
Writer’s block is such a perilous foe because the goal, like the words on the page, is out of sight. So put some words on the page…any words. Make the page less perfect. Make the page less pristine in some way. Break the plane of the page and show it that you really CAN put words on it. Break the block once and it will be easier the next time. Break the block twice and it won’t seem like so large an obstacle after that. Break it three times and it will be reduced to an inconvenience instead of an obstacle. However you approach it, understand that writers for decades have been dealing with this and these are not the only ways to overcome this obstacle, just some things to try.