I love it when those super productive plot bunnies come to visit. Those days when ideas for new plots, or new exciting twists for a work in process come streaming in hard and fast, and supply writing fodder for years to come. But then sometimes you have those moments when you hit a brick wall writing a story. You’re scribbling away, and then—. Something needs to happen, and you realise that you haven’t got a clue what that something should be. You think, and you think, and you stare at the screen. You squish your face with the effort and hurl expletives at the world in general. But still nothing comes. A great big pile of nada. It can be quite a frightening moment, and if you carry on pushing yourself for days or weeks to think of what comes next to the exclusion of anything else, you will end up scaring yourself into the back of a cupboard somewhere, quivering and muttering profanely turgid sentences about the tragic ending of your yellow brick writing road.
For me, rather than wasting time, and upsetting myself with thoughts of my absolute lack of any writing talent at all, or verbally abusing innocent passersby, there are a couple of things that I try to do instead, and one way or another that missing happening always arrives when it’s ready. Without fail. The first and easiest thing is to type in a whole lot of bold red exes so that there’s no chance of losing that plot black hole, and then carry on writing on the other side. You obviously know why you need this event to happen – it is the cause for some outcome in your book, so just carry right on into the outcome and the event will eventually be revealed to you. Promise.
If you’re just way too angry at your own ineptitude to write anything at all, then walk away from your computer and do something else. It’s amazing how being tense can block up all creativity, just as it is the way being relaxed or doing something totally different can unplug that old blockage. Run around your house – hop up and down in the garden – windmill your arms, or do the Makarena while singing it loudly. Writers are supposed to get moving every hour anyway, to prevent the entire body from oozing downwards and pooling around your ankles after years spent unmoving in front of a computer. Not a good look I would imagine. Any old physical thing generally gets me going. Get all those endorphins on the move, while at the same time gaining inspiration for future scribbles from the reactions to your awesome activities from your family and neighbours.
Edit. Work on ideas for your covers. Do some research. Either for the event that has you stumped, or for any other project. While you’re cramming up on the merits of murder by lily bulb, your brain is working on your problem behind the scenes, and the solution could pop up at any time. Have a little faith in your writer’s mind – it’s probably more than a little strange, but it won’t let you down in the end.
Ideas come from the strangest places, as all you scribblers already know. Television is great for inspiration, and for me, watching shows like Ancient Aliens classifies as research. So get out the ice-cream or other equally healthy snack and settle into your couch to do some work. Or for a little bit of fun, go play with a Random Plot Generator. You never know what could be lurking in a bit of silliness to inspire you. Click on the image to read the brilliant computer generated story, and see – reviews too!