Q&A with Beth Groundwater discussion

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Writer's Block

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message 1: by Beth (new)

Beth | 216 comments Mod
Betty asked: "Beth, I'm stuck with a book I'm writing, I know about writer's block, at what point in a book, if ever, have you been stuck, and if you have, was it in your first book or a later one?"

I get stuck all the time when I'm working on a book, in the planning phase (outlining, character profiles), while writing the rough draft, and even while editing--trying to figure out how to fix something I know is wrong. My most common solution is to give my subconscious mind some time to work on the problem, so I literally sleep on it. Often when I wake up in the morning, I have an idea of a direction to take, at least, or even the whole solution.

Another thing I've done is dive into some research in the area where I'm stuck to see if I can generate ideas that way. So, if I'm trying to up the tension in a scene taking place at a campsite in Cataract Canyon (my WiP), for instance, I might look at photos of the area, read about local flora and fauna, the local history or geology, and see if there's a way to tie any of that information into a conflict between the characters. Or something I read my send me off in a totally new direction that gets the creative juices flowing again.

Another strategy is the "butt in chair" one. To sit and stare at the screen, re-reading the last scene and re-reading the paragraph in my outline defining the current scene, until finally the characters decide to start interacting with each other and I can record what's going on. Often I'll just start typing a description of the setting to start getting into a scene, until I can put myself there in my mind's eye and start to observe my characters in action.

Finally, you can look at WHY you're blocked. Are you trying to force a character to do something that's out of character? If so, you need to either box them in so that's their only course of action even though they hate doing it OR change the plot to fit their character. Have you plotted yourself into a corner and need to devise a way out? You need to pull back and start looking at alternatives. Or, are you just burned out and need to get a good night's sleep? ;-)

I hope some of these suggestions are helpful!

Does anyone else have any suggestions for Betty?


message 2: by Kaye (new)

Kaye George | 2 comments Sometimes I have to take some time off and return to the project. Just a day or two, ideally. Often the problem will be solved when I start up again.

Lately I've been trying to concentrate on plot knots just before I go to bed. I don't actually wake up with solutions, but they do sometimes pop up during the next day.


message 3: by Beth (new)

Beth | 216 comments Mod
Yes, Kaye, when a problem crops up during a morning writing session, I often find that going for a walk or eating lunch or doing something else unrelated to the project allows my unconscious mind to work on it and the solution will appear later.


message 4: by Betty (new)

Betty (nightreader) | 6 comments I like these examples, thank you. I'm still just trying to get started, I now have several starts going in different directions. But I suddenly might get an idea for later. I'm beginning to think maybe I should do whatever part of the book wants to be said when I see or hear it, and then assemble it when it connects. I sometimes do that with reviews. I really need a laptop or voice activated recorder! My best thoughts come when I'm alone driving. (That didn't work out right, I definitely would not be using a laptop while driving!)


message 5: by Kaye (new)

Kaye George | 2 comments Betty, if you have a hands-free phone (and if it's legal where you drive) you can call yourself and leave a message with your great ideas. I used to do that a lot when I had a long commute in Dallas.


message 6: by Betty (new)

Betty (nightreader) | 6 comments Kaye wrote: "Betty, if you have a hands-free phone (and if it's legal where you drive) you can call yourself and leave a message with your great ideas. I used to do that a lot when I had a long commute in Dallas."
Great idea! Unfortunately I don't have a cellphone, we don't have much service up in northern BC, but I will REALLY keep that in mind! Wonderful idea. thank you.


message 7: by Beth (new)

Beth | 216 comments Mod
You can do the same thing with an old, cheap tape recorder. :)


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