writer’s block or what to do when the @#$@! chapter just isn’t working . . .

brick wall2 There are a lot of great articles out there about getting around writer’s block, but I had an interesting experience with my previous chapter. In a previous post, I talked about being at the chapter where my protagonist and one of my main characters to meet. I’d been having quite a bit of problems with this chapter, but I finally completed it over the weekend.

I was finally able to isolate the issue. The scenes lacked the emotional depth I wanted. Usually, I tend to leave out portions of description and setting rather than have difficulty reaching my characters, but this chapter proved to be the opposite. I simply couldn’t connect with the point of view character and get that spark I needed.

I went back and re-read my character sketches, but I also went back and re-read my earlier chapters with these two characters. Still nothing. Rather than sit like a lump, I started writing the chapter with the information I had at hand. I started writing the setting, putting the description into place, then I fleshed the chapter out with dialogue between two other characters.

My writing went in fits and starts, and I felt like I was chipping away at a brick wall. At the end, I asked someone to look at the chapter, then implemented that individual’s suggestions. I finally had the chapter I wanted with the emotional depth between the two characters that was needed to set up the last half of the novel, but it was work.

Does that ever happen to you? You’re just shooting along unable to type fast enough to get the words out of our head and suddenly, you hit a dead stop? What do you do to ease around writer’s block with your novel?

Lisa R. Cohen has a great list of both print and online resources for defeating writer’s block at Resources.

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About T. Frohock

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5 Responses to writer’s block or what to do when the @#$@! chapter just isn’t working . . .

  1. Kelly Bryson says:

    I print out what I’ve got so I can have the satisfaction of balling up individual pages and tossing them into the trash can.

    I mull, I outline the action, I start making notes about how the characters change over the scene, where I’m going and how I want to get there. I scribble all over it, and then I go back to the beginning of the chapter and start reading. And when it isn’t right, I fix it. It’s just plain hard work.

    In a related but separate topic, I discovered that my computer will do text-to-speech if I copy the text into word pad. (I’m not committed enough to t-to-s to buy a nice program, not yet anyway.) It was odd, but really helped me to go slow and pay attention to each word, even more than reading aloud.
    -Kelly

    • Teresa says:

      LOL, Kelly! I like that, and next time, I think I’ll print them so I can wad them up and toss them in the trash! 😉

      Actually, I like your outline/note process too. I think I’ll try that next time I’m stuck, but chapter ten seems to be rolling along beautifully (for now).

      By the way, a lot of people are speaking well of doing the text-to-speech as an editing process. I might even be able to use it, because I’ll be following along with the text, so if something doesn’t sound right, then I should pick it up. I may try a freebie just to see. Keep us posted on that!

      Have a great week!

  2. Michael Kizzia says:

    I don’t know if this will help, but I set the work aside and go work on something else for a while. I am sure my unconscious continues to work on the problem while I focus elsewhere. Then, after several weeks (yes, I said weeks or more) I try to look at the work with “fresh” eyes.

    What I have found is the problem in chapter (lets say 7) is just the trigger. The problem is really in chapter 2, 3 or 4. It is invariably the set-up that is lacking in some way and that is why I struggle and can’t get chapter 7 to come out the way I want.

    That has happened to me on several occasions.

    PS: I think it is spelled @#$&!
    -Michael

    • Teresa says:

      Actually, Michael, you hit my problem exactly. I had originally written my main character too nice, so while I had my protagonist down to a fine art, my main character needed her fangs filed a bit. I went back in to those previous chapters (in my case three and five) and realized I needed to allow Rachael to go. When I quit trying to ramrod her into my concept of her and let her be herself, the chapter started to work, but boy was it work. If I’d had the luxury of waiting, I would have, but I’m really trying to discipline myself into moving this novel forward in a timely fashion.

      PS: Thank you for your correction, but it’s only spelled @#$! when you’re trying to say @#$!. I really meant the stronger invective of @#$@!

      Thanks for stopping by! 😉

  3. sonia says:

    that happens to me. mostly I try to force myself to write but sometimes it doesn’t work.

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