When I started writing The Ravynwyng Chronicles, I was cruising along; fingers flying across the keyboard. Sometimes I was typing so fast it sounded like a machine gun was being fired. The words were flowing like a flood. Felt like I couldn’t type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. I can type around 80 words a minute when I hit the zone. Then one day, out of the clear blue sky — BAM!! I hit a wall! Yes, I ran right into writer’s block; the bane of everyone who has ever typed or written something. When my thoughts stopped in their tracks, I was nearly to the midpoint of the story.
So there I was, staring at the screen wondering what the hell I could do. My brain was refusing to cooperate, so I thought I would take a day or two off, let things simmer. Hah! A lot of good that did. All that happened was my losing sleep, worrying about the writer’s block. How could this happen? How do I get past it?
I tried the ‘stream of consciousnes exercise’. Nope, still stuck. Learned that from an English teacher named Miss Kangas. Strange lady; she believed her husband was reincarnated as a goat. Next, I tried getting away from writing completely. Read a couple books, watched TV, listened to music, did housework, played a couple of MMOs. Still nothing.
On the fourth day, I sat down in front of the laptop and thought about it, then it hit me. I already knew how I wanted the book to end, so let’s go ahead and write the last chapter. That worked out quite well, so I wrote the two chapters preceding that. Once those were finished, I went back to where I was stuck, read over what I had written, and guess what? The words started flowing again! The block was gone! Hooray! After that it was smooth sailing for the most part. I did run into that nasty old writer’s block a couple more times, but had little difficulty getting back into the groove those times. Hmm. Maybe those other times weren’t walls, but bricks that could make up the wall. It was fun watching the progress I was making to reach the three chapters I had written when I was blocked. Once I reached that point, I only needed to make a few changes in what I already wrote to have it match up with the rest of the story.
Looking back at that point last year, I sometimes wonder if I had written an outline, would I have hit that wall? When I continue working on volume 3, it will be from an outline. I think it will be interesting to see if I have the same problem as I did in the first novel and at the same point.
Each writer has a different way of dealing with the problem of writer’s block. Jumping ahead in the story worked for me. Others move on to another writing project for a while, then returning to the work they are having trouble with. Some go the ‘stream of consciousness’ route, writing down whatever comes to mind, not stopping until they have a page or two filled. Another way to get past the block is play the ‘What If?’ game. What if my main character goes here instead of here? What if the antagonist does this instead of that? If you try this out, don’t throw out anything you come up with. You never know, there might be another story lurking in the What ifs.
When I started the trilogy, I didn’t have a plan for what I was writing. I just imagined what was going on in my mind and wrote it down. I’m beginning to suspect that I’m the type of person that needs to plan things out, so I don’t hit a major writer’s block again. That was scary for me, having the flow stop the way it did. Maybe if I had written even a brief outline, things wouldn’t have bogged down like that. A side note: The final chapter I wrote is now the first chapter of volume 3. I have the feeling though, that the first chapter is going to be pushed further into the book as new ideas are appearing from what I’ve written in the first two volumes.
I know the fear of hitting the wall again lurks in the back in my mind as I write. It’s part of who we are as writers. Try not to fear it or let it take control of your life. Losing sleep over the written word does you no good.
May the words ever flow!