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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tuesday Spotlight: Nina Pierce

Getting Around the Writer’s Block

If you write more than one book … it’s inevitable. That feeling that the words have failed you and you can’t write another sentence worth printing. The cursor blinks tauntingly on the blank page, daring you to fill the emptiness. All your wonderful prose and pithy dialogue have gone out the proverbial window and now you’re a has-been before you’ve even had a chance to enjoy the success of your first sale.

Not to worry. You’re not alone.

Writer’s block happens to many writers. The first solid advice I can give you is not to panic. Though you may not believe it to be possible, it will pass. There are several tricks of the trade that may help you through this time.

If you are not under a deadline …

~ Walk away. Do something relaxing. I have found often times when I am stuck it has to do with a problem I haven’t yet resolved in the plot. By giving myself permission to take a day off I take the stress and worry away. While I’m working on another activity I find relaxing like gardening or scrapbooking, my mind wonders and I stumble upon a solution to a problem I didn’t conscientiously know existed.

~ Work on something else. If you have other stories you have thought about starting or are currently working on, try picking up something new and working on that story.

~ Try some free writing. I often write short snippets of stories called “flashes”. These are 100 word stories of varying subjects. Creative writing inspired by a theme or a picture. Since they require no plot and are simply disjointed scenes it often is enough to release my creativity and I find I can go back to my book with a fresh eye.

~ Character sketches. If you haven’t done it already (some people do these before writing a story) sit down and do a detailed description of your character. Who they are, what they want, hurts in their lives that have brought them to this point. If you’ve already done character sketches try writing a diary entry. Sometimes thinking in the first person gives you enough insight to help you through this difficult piece of writing.

If you are writing with a deadline …

~ Skip a scene or two or simply go to the next chapter. Start at the next point in your story where you know what is happening. Often this will trigger the missing scene(s) and you can go back and fill in the blanks.

~ Write just the dialogue. What are your characters saying to each other? Write the dialogue and go back and fill in the actions and prose to make the scene complete.

~ Write the end of the book. Some writers write completely out of order. The first three chapters then the last three chapters, then a couple more at the beginning and a couple at the end. Writing out of order may help you through the difficulty of a complicated scene.

~ Switch point of view. Perhaps the character you want to experience the scene isn’t the one with the most at stake or the most information to share with the reader. Try writing from someone else’s perspective.

These are only a few of the tools I have found that work for me. I hope you never experience writer’s block, but if you do. Stay calm and know that soon those words will once again be flowing.

Nina Pierce’s muse is a fickle creature. She often takes unscheduled vacations with deadlines looming, leaving Nina to plow her way through countless roadblocks—alone. Fortunately for her, the characters in her head keep screaming for her to write their stories so she pushes through! See all her books at


Cathy M said...

Sounds like a great approach to take, and always interesting to learn more about the writing process.

Nina Pierce said...

Cathy - Glad you enjoyed reading about it. Of course in theory sometimes it works better than reality.

rosemary said...

Nina, you gave a very clear and interesting post on what a writer can do if they develop writer's block. I think this can be applied to many situations we face on a daily basis. Thank you for good advise. Thank you, rosemary

Kytaira said...

I'm not a writer but many of these tips I can use in my workplace as well. Thanks!

Fran Lee said...

Hey, Nina!

You are one of the most polished writers I have met, and I love reading your books...even your blogs are great!