Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | November 8, 2012

Beating Writer’s Block

Writers often suffer from the dreaded syndrome known as “Writer’s Block.”  Much ink and many pixels have been dedicated to solving this problem.

I have a possible  solution.

One of the men in a small creative writing class I teach is an avid sailor. Yesterday we were discussing what to do when one hits the blockade and can’t think of what else to write.

My solution was to ask the characters in your book where to go.  I said that, if the writer has created strong characters, they’ll point the way.

My sailor friend told a story to the class that I found interesting and very instructive.  He said that he and another man were taking a large boat through the inland waterways in an area where the bottom was not sand or mud, but granite. It was essential that they follow the buoys  to stay in safe waters and avoid damaging the boat.

At one point, they knew they should see a buoy just ahead, but there was none to be found.  They turned around and went back to their last marker where they were sure of their location and using their  GPS device, recalculated the pathway to the next buoy. This time they found it. Only a small correction was necessary, but it made all the difference.

His suggestion: when a writer comes to a place in their work when the next destination is unknown, turn around. Go back to a place where you knew what was supposed to happen next and were certain of your pathway. Readjust your internal bearings.

As writers, you know that choosing a direction for the story is essential to the narrative. Try telling the story from a tack that, at first, you didn’t pick. You might also try shifting  point of view.

Perhaps, if you know your characters as well as you should, you can have an imaginary conversation with them and ask, “Now that I’m back at this point, where should we go from here?”   Remember, the antagonist—as well as protagonist—drives the story.  The evil one may tell you what mischief she/he has planned and your heroine/hero wil have to deal with it.

Happy and successful writing!

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Responses

  1. Good advice and thanks for sharing it. This is similar to the advice Stephen King gives in his book to aspiring writers, On Writing. To paraphrase, Create a situation with a problem. Place your characters in the scene and let them solve the problem.
    I had a similar situation this morning as the one you describe. I revisited the previous chapter, assessed the situation and went on to write more than 2K words. Your analogy is perfect.

  2. […] From Thomas Drinkard at Pinnacle Writing: If you reach a place in your work when the next destination is unknown, turn around. Go back to a place where you knew what was supposed to happen next and were certain of your pathway. Readjust your internal bearings. […]


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