Help me welcome author Silver James to Romance University with her post on how to break your way free of that writer’s block!
We all bash our heads against the dreaded Writer’s Block at one time or another. One school of thought insists we stay at the keyboard hammering out words because we all know you can’t fix a blank page. At the same time, we stare at those words, faces puckered like a toddler who just sucked a lemon for the first time.
Several years ago, I was part of the standing-room-only crowd at Candace Havens’s Draft Dirty panel at RWA Nationals. I was a National Novel Writing Month pro so I knew about pushing through to get words down but the one thing I brought away from her presentation involved writer’s block. “When you get stuck, write the next scene you know is going to happen.”
Talk about a light bulb moment!
Not only did Candace give me a powerful tool, but she helped me develop my process. I was neither a plotter nor a pantser. Not a plantser nor a plotser. I discovered I was a puzzler. I create a framework for a book, much like the straight-edged pieces on a jigsaw puzzle. Then I find pieces that fit together—characters, setting, backstory, scenes, etc.—and fit them into the framework.
So, you ask, what the heck does this have to do with Writer’s Block? I write disjointed scenes. When the inspiration hits, I write that scene. I should mention here that Scrivener is my saving grace! I know a particular just-written scene is going to happen at some point. I just don’t know where. Yet.
Sometimes, inspiration is harder to find than a chocolate bar the day before a deadline. That’s when flash fiction—and the prompts—come to the rescue. For those of you unfamiliar, flash fiction is the title for a loose designation of writing short fiction usually based on a prompt or a theme. There is no widely accepted standard for the word count. Some “contests” want one sentence. Some up to 1000-3000 words. Chuck Wendig often uses Friday’s on his blog to post flash fiction challenges. There are others around, included two I participate in, #FlashMobWrites and #ThursdayThreads, both hosted by authors on their websites. Flash Mob offers musical inspiration in the form of a YouTube video and two prompts taken from the lyrics. Threads picks a phrase from the winner of the previous week.
Yes, I use these pieces in my books. I have readers who will recognize a passage from a flash fiction challenge. In fact, I have project that I’m about 7,000 words into and every one of those words came from a flash fiction challenge. Eventually, I’ll have a book from it. The project is part of a series and is “future” book in the story arc but it will very likely be ready to fit together and edit by the time it comes up in active rotation. Why do I use prompts for it instead of my current WIP? I don’t always, but some themes lend themselves to that book.
Okay, so, that covers future projects. What about the current WIP and that ever-looming deadline? What about staring and the last paragraph and not having a clue where the story goes next? This is where the creativity of writing flash fiction becomes very handy. Consider it a writing exercise to jump-start your Muse. Do it for fun, thinking you’ll never use those words. Do whatever it takes to get new words down that have something to do with your WIP to move the story along. In essence, you’re writing the next scene you know is going to happen.
Where do you go to find flash fiction prompts? You can Google (I still laugh that this has been a verb) flash fiction prompts. You can check Facebook and Twitter for announcements. You can make up your own. You have iTunes, Spotify, or similar sites? Do a blind shuffle. Use the title, or part of the lyrics of the song for a prompt. Then sit there and free write. Let your imagination lose and tell a story, using your character(s), set in your world. You might just surprise yourself. It works for me every time.
Have any of you written flash fiction? Think you might want to try? Need a prompt to flash through the block? Leave a comment and I’ll give you a prompt.
Join us on Wednesday for regular contributor Rayne Hall!
MOONSTRUCK: SECRETS is available in Kindle and print at <a href=”http://smile.amazon.com/Moonstruck-Secrets-Silver-James-ebook/dp/B00UIBMMHK” target=”_blank”>AMAZON</a> and at these other digital retailers:
THE DEVIL’S CUT is available in print and Kindle at AMAZON . Read it for free if you belong to Kindle Unlmited.
- How to Defeat Your Writer’s Block by Ryan Lanz
- Are YOU the Writer’s Block? With Donna Cummings
- How to Get Past Writers Block by Larry Bjornson
- Handsome Hansel – Motivate Motivate Motivate
- Plotting: The Flow of Your Story by Houston Havens