How Love Inspired Authors Battle Writer’s Block
If you’re an aspiring writer looking to overcome some writer’s block to finish the next great romance novel, don’t worry! We asked some of our Love Inspired authors how they conquer their writing roadblocks to give you some real behind the scenes advice.
Jennifer Slattery, author of Building a Family
Some days, when I sit to write, the words flow effortlessly. Time passes quickly as I get swept into the romance and drama unfolding beneath my fingertips, and I’m reluctant to step away. Other times, every sentence feels like a struggle and I find myself frequently checking emails, social media, and texts. When this occurs, I can almost always trace my stalled creativity to a handful of potential causes: my inner critic is bullying my muse, I’m experiencing stress or frustration in another area of life, I’m tired or not feeling well, or I haven’t researched the story well-enough.
Though I alter my response based on the provocation, my goal is always the same: Find a way to entice my temporarily skittish muse to come out to play.
Ruth Logan Herne, author of Her Cowboy Reunion (Her Cowboy Reunion & Hill Country Reunion)
I’ve heard of writer’s block! And I have the cure…. Shoot someone. Okay, no, that’s not the cure, but sometimes you have to kickstart yourself into what’s gone wrong. I think it generally happens when authors go “out of character”. That’s a huge wrong turn because once you’ve set the standards for your character, they’re going to react one way… You can’t fluff or fudge that. And, unless it’s a major turning point in their path, if you try to make them act out of character, you lose the story’s edge. Think emotion…. Emotion is what carries a story through the middle. Without a reason to feel for the characters, why would the reader keep reading? So the emotion we invest into the characters, including their reactions, their feelings, and their actions are all inspired by the character we’ve drawn for the reader. I keep it simple. I’m a Geek. Really. Truly. I think of scenes as Action/Reaction, just like chemistry class, because for every action there needs to be a reaction, right? So those reactions spur the story forward, but keeping your people in character is clutch.
Leigh Bale, author of His Amish Choice (The Promised Amish Bride and His Amish Choice)
I have to say that I don’t believe in writer’s block. Not when you have a book contract and looming deadlines. Writing is a job just like anything else. You have to put your fanny in the chair and work. But I have often been stumped on how to fix a problem, or I write myself into a corner and am not sure how to get out of it. I have found that, if I’ll walk away for a day and let myself mull it over in my mind while I do the dishes, make dinner, toss another load of laundry into the washer, or while I’m driving to an appointment, etc., it will come to me.
I also keep a notebook and pen on my night table. I kid you not, I’ve woken up from a deep sleep in middle of the night and sit straight up and it’s there in my mind how to fix it. If I ignore those flashes of insight and don’t write them down right then and there, they are gone by morning time. I don’t even care about my scribbles as I jot down lines of dialogue or scene ideas in the darkness. I can’t see what I’m writing but I have it down. And in the morning, I’m always so glad I did it because I’ve got it. It’s mine now and I can incorporate those little zaps of brilliance into my book to deepen the story. It really works! I’ve found that the stage of sleep in the early morning hours when you are just starting to wake up provide me with the most clarity. I think it must be because my mind is clear and not full of the business of my day and ideas just come to me, especially if I’ve been fretting over a dilemma in my storyline.
More than anything, after all the books I’ve written, I’ve learned not to panic, to give myself a little time, and it’ll come to me. It always does. And if I’m running out of time and it’s being too stubborn, I have a couple of trusted writing friends I can bounce a couple of ideas off of and they oftentimes “see” my story from a different angle and help me out too.
Jill Kemerer, author of Reunited with the Bull Rider (The Rancher’s Secret Child & Reunited with the Bull Rider)
Story direction is a constant battle. If I’m truly stuck, I go outside and walk. For whatever reason, walking untangles my plot issues and gives me clarity. I also like to talk through a story problem using the voice memos app on my phone. This allows me to listen to it later and take notes.
Until a few years ago, I often got stuck in the middle of a story. Then I found a tip that made all the difference. After every writing session, I jot down the basics of the next 2-3 scenes. It’s much easier to decide what the next scenes will be when my mind is fresh in the story than trying to figure it out during the next writing session. Sometimes my notes will be a sentence; other times the scene notes will be a few paragraphs. The key is that each scene builds upon each other.
Jocelyn McClay, author of Amish Reckoning
I’m still new at this. I’m hoping/working to improve my process as I’m sure so many experienced authors have a better one. I write with a synopsis as a guideline. I’d love to be able to write start to finish, but when I sit down to meet a daily word goal, if I’m not feeling inspired on the current scene, I’ll skip to another one later in the book just to get my word goal. Sometimes I discover things going on in a later situation which impact earlier scenes.
Lois Richer, author of Hoping for a Father
I sometimes think most of my problems come when one of my hard-headed characters insists on doing what he or she wants and not what I’d planned for them to do. I usually spin my wheels for a while, trying hopelessly to force the story forward. When it won’t move, I give in, get a cup of coffee and re-read everything I’ve written. I never allow myself to think I have writer’s block because that magnifies the issue in my brain and then it begins to seem insurmountable. A bloc, a mountain? How can I get over that? It’s all about the psyche.
Instead I try to figure out how I got to this stuck place. I might start from the beginning in hopes of figuring out if I took a wrong turn and how to fix it. I might skip the stuck part and write the next chapter until my brain solves it for me, or I might start the story all over again, maybe with a different character that’s not so willful! Sometimes I get my sister to read what I have written. She used to be an English teacher and she’s very nit-picky about motivation. Of course she then expects me to follow all of her suggestions. 😊
Rhonda Starnes, author of Rocky Mountain Revenge
Take a day or two away from writing and do something else creative. If I need to clear my mind and think about where the story should go next, I’ll crochet a simple hat or scarf. Most of the time, taking a little time away allows me to look at things a little more clearly.
If I’m stuck on a particular section of the story, like the middle, I’ll skip that section and write another section, maybe even the ending. The trick is to keep moving forward with the story. And, most of the time, I’ll end up writing something in the ending that helps me see what I was missing in the middle, making it easier to go back and write the difficult section.