Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Turn Still Waters Back Into Babbling Brooks

I have come to a stopping place. Well, not really a stop, more like the slow trickling spot of a river. I’ve been flying down rapids, and have come to still waters. The words haven’t stopped, but they are quieting down. For a writer, it’s unnerving. My mind’s first response is to wonder if the writer’s block is around the bend.

It’s times like this that we have to remind ourselves that it is just a phase. I went through this before, and here are a few little tricks that I’ve learned to help get me back on the babbling brook.

*Go find it. Use slow writing periods for research. Whether it’s a name, a town, or a question that your character would have the answer to, research can often spark new ideas allowing you to pick up the pace. My stories tend to be heavy in research (read post), but I think that every story requires a little. Digging deeper might open up a door that you didn’t even know existed.

*Re-explore backstory. Is the character fully developed? Is there something missing? Or is there a particular trait that is slowing you down? Whether adding another layer or removing a hang up, this can jump start your writing. If your character’s backstory and personality are complete, they will often walk and talk on their own.

*Fresh Subplot. Maybe you are in need of a bit of inspiration. A fresh fun subplot can wrap around the story and send you into a new direction. It may be just the thing your characters were waiting for, or the last thing they needed (depending on the type of story you are telling).

*Who’s the new guy? Introducing a character can spice up a story and give you more possibilities for subplots. Not to mention a new character often times can be very revealing of your other characters – how they react, what they think? Does this guy bring good tidings or buckets of drama? But don’t forget his backstory.

* Reread and Multiply.  This may not be too helpful for those who start at once-upon-a-time and stop at happily-ever-after, but for those like me who are page-hoppers, using a slow time to go back and fill in holes often sparks much more than what was missing. It gives you the chance to revisit what you’ve done and see what you’ve missed. What can you add, or where did you veer off in the wrong direction?

Most importantly, keep a positive attitude. I know easier said than done, especially for us sensitive writer types, but this is just a slow spell. Pollyanna attitude says, “You are just giving your arm a break for all those words that will be flying from them once the inspiration ignites your fingertips.”

What do you do to get through the slow spells? When inspiration doesn’t find you, where do you look for it?


  1. Great tips! When I hit a block, I always think...hmm what else can i throw at my MC to make her life even harder, lol.

  2. Thanks Roni! That's a great idea.

    I forgot one - Music. Slapping on the ipod and heading out for a walk will get the creative juices flowing.

    Oh - and don't forget people watching. Sitting somewhere and observing others might give a little incite as well.