Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming the author of The Game Begins, Rebecca Howie, to Writerly Bookish Stuff. Rebecca is here to talk about the dreaded writer’s block and how to overcome it.
Over to you, Rebecca…
Overcoming Writer’s Block
Let’s be honest: being a writer isn’t easy. From bad reviews, nit-picking beta readers who make you feel like a wanna-be sham, and spending hours formatting your shiny new novel for Createspace only to have it rejected because of the margin sizes, it’s easy to see why some people decide to pack it up and keep on at their day job.
But before you reach the final stage, before you hit PUBLISH and send your book baby out into the world to fend for itself, you’ve got to write that first draft. And while you’re at it, you’re probably going to come across writer’s block.
I was lucky enough when writing my first novel to avoid it, but that was only because I didn’t actually know I was writing a novel until I was halfway through and thought ‘Screw it, I’m going to publish it’. But on my second visit into Sam’s world, it hit me, and for almost half a year, I couldn’t get anything written.
I knew I wanted to write a second book; I knew I wanted it to be a sequel to The Game Begins. And I knew that I wanted it to touch on the previous book’s events instead of pretending like nothing bad had happened. But could I write it?
(That answer is obvious if you make a visit to my blog and see my lack of writing updates, and that up until October, had the release date for my second book as ‘Coming Soon’.)
So, how do you overcome writer’s block? What possible solution can there be when you haven’t written a single word in almost a year?
Here are some of the things I try, and sometimes find helpful.
Take a Break
Accepting that you’re stuck isn’t actually the be-all and end-all of your WIP. Taking a break, even for just a few hours, might be all you need to get focussed on your story and the scene that’s trying to derail you.
Consult Your Notes
Keeping a note of the ideas that come to you at three in the morning is a great idea for finding inspiration, and if you already have a few notebooks filled with your sleep-deprived ramblings, now might be a good time to take a look.
Who knows? Maybe the next NYT bestseller is in there somewhere.
Read/ Watch TV
This might be the only time procrastinating isn’t a bad idea, but reading someone else’s book is a great way of getting your creative juices flowing. It can help you with pacing your novel, character development, and even when to end a chapter (which I struggled with a bit at the start of this new book).
Watching TV, on the other hand, is another great way to get ideas for your story. And when I was writing a particularly tricky scene in A Woman Scorned, I turned to ABC’s Castle for help with portraying the symptoms of PTSD, because I knew that one of its characters had gone through something similar to my own.
I know the last thing you want to hear is ‘rewrite’, but taking a second run at the WIP that’s trying to psyche you out might just be the thing you need to work out the plot hole that’s been bugging you, or changing the tone or pace or point-of-view to turn the story into the one you’ve actually been wanting to write from the beginning.
If all else fails, stop. Don’t justify forcing yourself to write, or making yourself sick with the stress of it. I lost count of how many false starts I made while trying to write AWS, and although I have a folder filled with character notes and defunct plot points, I’m happier with the characters now than I was when I started all those earlier attempts, so moving on to a different plot or story might just be the thing which gets you back on track.
Rebecca Howie is a procrastinating writer from Scotland, who prefers spending her time in fictional worlds rather than the real one.
She self-published her first novel, The Game Begins, at 18, and it reached 2nd in the Teen and Young Adult Detective category on Amazon after its release in February 2016.
Where to find Rebecca Howie and her book:
For use of the content in this post, permission must be sought from the author, Rebecca Howie.