Nothing freaks writers out more than the inability to write. It can happen at any point in a project but most often strikes mid-stream. You are stopped cold, confronted by a startling realization that your story has lost direction and is sinking into an abyss of confusion.
There are countless reasons why writers stumble, lose focus, and end up suffering the paralyzing effects of writer’s block. A few quick fixes:
GET MORE INFORMATION: You’re trying to write a disaster scene but don’t know what disaster to choose. Earthquake? Fire? Disease? You need your character to murder somebody and hide the body, but you know nothing about murder and body-disposal (at least I hope not). Your character is about to embark upon a three month journey into the rainforest but you don’t know how to describe the environment. Don’t panic! Do research. Go online, read books, visit the rainforest. The more information you gather the better able you are to put your characters in believable settings, situations, and predicaments.
GET TO KNOW YOUR CHARACTERS: One of my favorite exercises is interviewing. Ask your characters questions such as: “What’s really troubling you?” or “Why do you hate your sister?” or “Why do you always have to be in charge?” or “What do believe will happen if you confront your enemy?” YOU (the creator of your characters) need to know their needs and wants and, more importantly, understand the difference.
GET BACK ON TRACK: “To be (an outliner) or not to be . . .” If you don’t have an outline, there’s a good chance you’ll go off track. Even with an outline you may wander into the netherworld of tangents and storylines that take you nowhere and end up in the “deleted material file.” Regardless of how you lost direction, you must figure out where you made a wrong turn. It might be a quick fix or a complete rewrite. Either way, the earlier you cure it the better, because the problem will not fix itself and in all likelihood will only get worse. If you have an outline, go back to it. If you don’t have one, try writing one or, at the very least, make a list of plot points: first this happened then that happened then something else happened.
Up next: Wise ways to cut word count