A Non-Linear Turn

Also smells overwhelmingly of tears and caffeine

Writer’s block. The two most dreaded words a writer can hear, see, or even think about. But the fact of the matter is that it inevitably is going to hit almost everyone at some point or another.

I currently have two WIPs, and both are characters that are developed in my mind, the plot is there, I know where I want to go, and roughly speaking, how I want to get there. But even the best of ideas can hit a snag in the road.

I recently found myself staring back over several weeks of almost nothing written. Initially, I dismissed it as the stress that comes from learning a new job. But even that excuse began to become thin as the weeks lulled on. I managed exactly one chapter over three and a half weeks, and not a single blog post, maybe a handful of social media blurbs. I had to admit that I had officially come to a dead end – writer’s block had found me.

Considering that my main WIP is a character I’ve known for close to a decade, one who has always been lurking in the shadows and in need of his own time to shine, I gave no thought to the idea that even he might come up against a road block that needed some creativity to get around. It simply seemed inconceivable that Castor, of all characters, might need me to take a different path – and break from the linear pattern.

(As a side note, I can’t find any writing related memes with this guy. It all seems so, well, inconceivable)

I’ve read more writing tips than I can remember, but the best source I’ve found has been in my Twitter writing groups (#WriteChat, #WriteStuff, #WeeknightWriters, and #WriteAndWine in case anyone is interested). Writer’s block recently came up, and one of my fellow writers talked about having an aside with a character to move the story forward. That conversation. wouldn’t necessarily make the actual book, but it was part of the writer’s journey to better understand their character. This idea circled back to me when I was searching for non-linear methods of advancing my story. I was further surprised when it was not Castor who came forward to have his own conversation, but a character I had only barely begun to mention. Tamar came out of the shadows, and stood as a strong yet fragile woman in her own rights, with her own secrets, shadows, doubts, and hopes.

I won’t lie, the process of bringing Tamar to the front was painful at first. I stared at my computer for the better part of Sunday evening and only managed about 483 words. But the next day, suddenly Castor had found his way again, and another 3000 words quickly followed.

There isn’t one right way to fix a story or to break through writer’s block. We all have to find what works best for us, and that might change on any given day. This was a new method for me, and one that worked better than I could have hoped for. But I need to keep in mind for the next time it happens that I need to keep my options open. The single most important thing to remember is to not lose sight of the story, and to just keep writing on.

Anyone out there have a similar experience? A different approach for breaking through?

– L.E.

Here’s one of the helpful lists I’ve used:https://nybookeditors.com/2013/03/a-map-to-get-out-of-writers-block/

Published by L.E. Gibler

Writer, rider, and future crazy cat lady

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