That blank page. The blinking cursor. After three hours of hard-work, all you have is this:
The Knight of Moonberries
by John R. R. R. R. Johnson
The knight walked…
And that’s it.
That blank page is waiting for you to blow it up. Fill it full of holes. Slash it, burn it, run over it with a tank.
So here I am to tell you how to forever and ever, eliminate writer’s block from your vocabulary. These are 5 ways (maybe not the Top 5, but nevertheless 5 ways) to smash writer’s block in the face and send it spiraling out into the cosmos.
1. The World is Your Oyster, But Oysters Stink if you Leave them Out
Is your life boring? Does nothing really happen? Well, lucky for you there’s a great big internet for you to research and find all sort of awesome tidbits!
Now an endless supply of babies, unicorns and baby unicorns have been dumped upon your head. The internet hates you and hates your creativity. It wants to suck you in to its black hole. Bury you alive in memes and other bright flashy distractions.
Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of great places on the internet (such as Mythic Scribes!) that can boost productivity, but try to avoid those places that are “time-killers.”
How about, um, going outside? There’s lots out there. Beautiful forests that may or may not have elves in them. Mountain trolls instead of internet trolls.
Even better? Travel a bit further out. You don’t have to go to that far. Just “escape” for a bit. You’ll notice without all the little distractions of “life” dragging you in the mud, you may actually get things done in your writing.
That weird guy at the convenience store with BO? That’s the Devil Hunter Partha, Ruiner of Worlds. How about that woman jogging? She’s a Solemn Runner, the only of her order who must deliver the message of the impending snow wyrm invasion.
Find cool people doing things. They’ll inspire you. Be a cool person that does things. Then you’ll be inspired more.
The best writers actually lived. So go live.
2. Romance Sells
Fantasy sells too, but romantic fantasy elements sell even more. Why have boring humans getting married and having human babies when you can have and an elf warrior and a demoness having a steamy night of passion in the Eclixian Plane of Myriad Pleasures? People dig fantastical romance scenes, the more bizarre and forbidden, the better.
Twilight is popular for a couple of reasons:
- Girls want to make-out with vampires.
- Girls probably also want to make-out with werewolves.
Or maybe just girls want to have fun?
In any case, men like romance too. You can’t have all the fun ladies! Nothing makes a story full of swashbuckling adventure better than if your sweaty pirate lord Skivers has a romp in the life-boat with a mermaid war-queen. Everyone likes a little romance.
But don’t make it boring. Make it awkward, forbidden, sweet, steamy, shocking, or itchy, but don’t make it boring.
So if your work-in-progress needs to get its mojo running again, just slip it a little romance and see where that takes you. Jealousy, betrayal, and undying love can all be strong themes, so don’t neglect them.
3. I Like to Move It
So your characters have been hanging out in a tavern for the past six chapters. They must be pretty drunk by now and completely worthless to advance your plot.
You could of course either:
- Have the barkeeper tell a long story about his journeys.
- Have a character try to hit on the barkeeper.
OK, so those didn’t work. Well, how about this?
Make the characters go somewhere else that’s not a tavern!
Fantasy worlds should be fantastical places. Full of wonder and mystery. Places you can’t visit in real life but wish you could. People read fantasy for escapism, not so they can hang out in a tavern with surly dwarves for fifty pages. Get your characters moving around. There are ruins of ancient lizardmen, dragon lairs, tombs of undead leopard people, sticky jungles full of bugs the size of cannonballs, and deadly, stinking swamps infested with hags and bog-monsters.
You know what’s in a tavern? Drunk people. And no, drunk people are not more interesting than bog-monsters. Unless the drunk person actually happens to be a bog-monster.
So a change of scenery can do many things for a manuscript that’s just sort of lying there like a limp Cthulu tentacle.
Get some madness going!
4. How About, Like, Make Something Happen?
Your main character Dark Stargazer sucks and he’s just sort of sharpening daggers or something and hiding his face under a dark hood. Sure, he looks like a total badass, but he has nothing to do. Oh, look! An aardvark-faced bounty hunter named Numnum has just burst into the room and shot him with a flintlock pistol right in the chest. Ouch!
Dark Stargazer is dragged away by the feet, probably to a swamp, because that hag wants to mate with him for some bizarre black magic voodoo ritual involving giant goat-headed devils. And Numnum gets paid with magic ants that only the hag has. So everyone has a little motivation. Cool, now your badass has some stuff to do. Get revenge on Numnum and avoid any physical contact with the swamp hag.
Two awesome characters to give your main character something to do. And that’s a big part of writer’s block. People get it because their characters have nothing to do. Or the stuff they are doing is boring or doesn’t make sense.
Well, don’t worry about everything making sense. Just make it as awesome as you can now and worry about it making complete sense later. First drafts are made of slugs, gelatin, gummy bears and other slimy things. They don’t stick together very well. Just accept that and keep moving your story forward.
5. Physically Break the Writer’s Block
That’s right. Break it. Go out and buy a block. Any block will do. A cinder-block, a toy block, one of those woodblocks your elementary school Music teacher used to make you play. Anything block shaped.
Manifest your writer-ly rage into whatever form of destruction you’d like. Machine gun, bazooka, fireball, knife, long sword, glaive, dragon’s breath, etc. Then demolish it. When you’ve run out of rage or are just tired then you can stop. Take the ashes and put them in a little cup next to your desk that says “Writer’s Block Ashes” on it. Then if any other writer’s block comes around in the future, it will see its obliterated comrade’s fate and think twice about invading your writing space again.
So that’s it! Those are my tips for getting rid of writer’s block once and for all. Basically if you get writer’s block, change something. If a plot point isn’t working, kill it. If a character isn’t working, kill him. But don’t kill your story simply because that big, fat, stupid block is sitting there.
Don’t let that cursor blink.
Do you have any advice for banishing writer’s block to an extra-planar dimension? Share in the comments below!
You can find Phil’s blog about Japan, writing, pro wrestling, and weird stuff at philipoverby1.blogspot.com.