Writer’s block is a just a big ol’ bully. And there are two ways to deal with bullies: stand up to them or ignore them.
If you’re in a fighting frame of mind…
Confront your writer’s block head on by challenging the status quo. Try something new, and don’t be afraid to throw a few punches.
Maybe your MC needs a slap. Perhaps your plot could do with an explosion that shakes things up. Or it could be that your approach just needs a shot in the arm.
Here are 13 ‘take no prisoners’ prompts to help you defeat writer’s block
- Take whatever is making your MC happy right now… and crush it.
- Deliver some devastating news to your MC. What would really knock them off balance? What could possibly derail them from the path they’re currently on?
- Kill off a character. What major impact does this have? (Hint: if it has little impact, why are they in your novel?)
- Reveal that someone your MC trusts has been keeping a huge secret from them.
- Introduce a new character… who has old ties to your MC. What trouble does this stir up?
- Your MC receives a mysterious note or parcel that shakes them to their core. What’s in it? Who is it from?
- Present your MC with an impossible choice: both will have negative consequences. Force them to choose one.
- Give your MC reason to suspect someone of betrayal. Are they right..?
- Write these seven words: And in the next instant, everything changed. What could possibly follow?
- Two of your characters get into a huge fight. What is it about? How do your other characters react? How does it affect other relationships and the course of your plot?
- Something happens to make your MC question if what they want… is really what they want. What could cause that kind of reevaluation? How does it affect their goals and motivation?
- Sprint ahead to the next scene that excites you, and write that instead.
- Write your final chapter. Zeroing in on exactly where you’re aiming to end up might help you figure out a strategy to get there.
And if that doesn’t work…
Turn your back on writer’s block. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Don’t give it the satisfaction of engaging with it.
I know you really just want to be writing the next scene in your story but sometimes, when the road is blocked, we’re forced to take the scenic route. And it’s called the scenic route for a reason: it might take us a bit longer but it’s far more interesting, often surprising, and encourages us to enjoy the journey rather than focus solely on our destination.
Here are 10 ‘scenic route’ prompts to help you detour around your writer’s block
- Re-write your last scene… from the POV of one of your supporting characters.
- Write a diary entry (as if you’re the ‘villain’ of your novel).
- Describe a scene where your MC and your antagonist get stuck in an elevator together. How does that play out..?
- Ninjas attack! How does everybody react? What does this tell you about them?
- Write a scene with no dialogue. Your characters can only communicate with body language, facial expressions, etc. What ‘conversations’ do they prioritize?
- Talk through your story. OUT LOUD. Describe everything that has happened, and why.
- Write a scene where your MC suffers a blow to the head and hallucinates the thing they want most. What do they see?
- If you haven’t already (or you have but it’s changed), sketch a quick outline of your story. It should include what your MC wants most, why they want it, how they're going about getting it, what gets in their way, and finally… whether or not they're successful.
- Your MC discovers they have a terminal illness. What would they choose to do in the time they have left? What does that tell you about what they really care about?
- Experiment with a different genre. Imagine your story is a romance, or a thriller, or sci-fi. How would that change what happens next? Could you use any of those ideas?
And speaking of different genres… I may have created a quiz to help you find your perfect genre. Ok, I definitely did that.