The Muse Takes a Holiday
Some call it Writers’ Block. Others refer to it as a simple lack of inspiration. What happens when you just don’t know what happens next in your story? The words won’t come. At all. What is the author of the next Great American Novel to do?
Of course, there are lots of suggestions out there. Take a nap. Fold the laundry. Phone a friend. I’ll be the first to confess that most of these “tricks” are merely avoidance techniques. But why do I procrastinate with something that I love to do?
I’m certain that there is a deep psychological meaning behind it, but I refuse to research that right now, maybe it could be the subject of my next book.
In fact, research may be at the root of the blocked imagination. When I don’t know what should happen next, it’s often
because I have no idea what would happen next. I haven’t researched that deeply into the technicalities or history of the subject. On the other hand, sometimes I find that I’ve researched so much that I don’t care anymore. Yes, it’s often the mystery that keeps me going.
If research isn’t the problem—if I just don’t know how my protagonist would respond in a particular situation—maybe I need to get to know him or her better. I could write a scene, completely separate from my story, in which my lead characters are all trapped in an elevator somewhere between floors of a Metropolitan high-rise. What do they say? How do they treat each other? What do they smell, see, or hear? Sometimes writing out these little vignettes can trigger something that will propel the stalled work-in-progress.
Another solution may be to skip to the next scene that I know, and write that. The idea is that having that next goal in sight may shed light on the path to get there. Or… it may not be that I have writers’ block at all, but that I’m trying to write too much. A minute-by-minute account of my hero may just be boring. Experiencing a stall may be an indication that I should skip that part. If the next scene makes sense without it, it’s highly likely that a reader would skip it, too. Leave it out. Write tight.
I hope that these suggestions help—I just thought of something…