Oct 23 2009

How to Beat Writer’s Block, Part 2

Published by at 1:35 am under Writer's Block,Writing Articles

For Part 1, please go here.

1. Don’t stop to rewrite chapters until you’ve finished a rough draft of every chapter. Your first draft won’t be great—it definitely won’t be publishable—and that’s okay. At the time you’re first writing a particular chapter, it’s virtually impossible to make it publishably good because you won’t know the endpoint you’re building towards until you’ve gotten there. While an outline can help solve this problem by providing a map, outlines generally change quite a bit as the author actually writes the chapters—characters develop in unforeseen directions, plots are added or removed, characters may be added or removed, etc. It’s much easier to go back and make chapter 5 excellent after you’ve finished the first draft of the entire manuscript.

2. The most important thing is to keep writing. It’s okay if it’s not coherent or stylish—you can always fix that by rewriting later. Don’t worry about whether it’s good or publishable. Before you’ve finished the first draft, it almost assuredly won’t be.

3. If you’re really, really stuck, you can try skipping chapters as a last resort.  If you’re drawing a blank on chapter 10, maybe it’d be easier to write chapter 15 because you have a clearer idea of what’s happening then. It may be easier to fill in chapters 10-14 later. However, generally I’d recommend writing in sequence because it helps the author stay focused.

4. If you have beta-reviewers, I’d focus on “how can I adapt my writing moving forward?” rather than “how can I rewrite this chapter?” For example, if you’re getting stuck trying to get the story from point A to B, beta-reviewers can help suggest transition scenes or plot developments.  For example, if you’re not ready to bring the superhero face-to-face with the villain yet, you could at least prepare readers for the eventual confrontation by having the hero come across one of the villain’s crime scenes.

5. Put all of your other writing projects on hold—focus on the task at hand as much as possible.  Your pay relies on how many manuscripts you finish, not on how many you start.  Not every manuscript and comic book script will actually get published, of course, but only finished stories are even in the running.

6. Write more than you need. You can tighten up your manuscript later. Do not tell yourself “this is filler” as you’re writing. It’s very difficult to know that before the manuscript is finished. Maybe that filler will become useful as the story takes shape—it may hint at a character trait or relationship or plot development that you don’t know is coming yet. Or maybe it’s filler in this chapter, but would be really useful at some other point in the book. The more you write, the more material you have to work with as you edit and mold your manuscript into something fit for publication.

Did you like this article? If so, please check out How to Beat Writer’s Block, Part 1.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “How to Beat Writer’s Block, Part 2”

  1. Asayaon 27 Oct 2009 at 11:46 am

    I tend to lean heavily on 4 and 6. I write at least three or four scenario’s on whatever arc I’m working on, then I hand it over to my brother to give me critique on which ones work and if anything else can be tightened up.

  2. Contra Gloveon 07 Apr 2011 at 12:33 pm

    This almost feels like it was aimed at me. 🙂

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