What does a writer do when they get stuck? When the words aren’t flowing, the dialogue stinks, and the characters stop talking to us? Complete writer’s block? And I don’t mean stuck for the day, or burned out after writing thousands of words in one sitting. I mean, they’re stuck.
Their characters are flipping them the bird. Their muse is napping. Their computer crashes any time they touch the keys and the coffee pot, which used to hold all the known answers of the universe, ceases to work.
Since there’s no easy answer to this question, I’ve compiled a list of ideas that writers I have spoken to or read about have used – some of them weird, some confusing, some traditional. Let’s see what you think:
- Write something else. Now this only works if you have the kind of brain that can hop back and forth between stories. I don’t. Whether I’m reading or writing, the characters literally stop, mid-motion, like a freeze-frame inside my head until I pick them back up again.
- Brainstorm 20 crazy ideas that you just know you will never use. This works well, and I end up using something from the list about 8 times out of 10.
- Interview your character (the one mostly responsible for flipping you, the author, the bird) and ask them what the heck their problem is. My characters will usually tell me that they hate something I wrote about them and, like spoiled children, won’t move on until I change it.
- Write anyway, and accept the fact that what comes pouring out of your fingertips onto the screen will be 100% worthless drivel. (Best part about this one is that if you DO write something salvageable, it’s like winning a super-mega lotto bonus!)
- Read something you love. Take a break. Watch a movie that makes you laugh or cry. Get your head out of your book. Take a shower or soak in a tub. (A lot of my best ideas will pop into my head when I’m in the shower – which is odd – but why fight it?)
If you’re interested in the writing process, I hope that sheds some light on things. When I got stuck writing my newest release, ALLIANCE, I did the only thing I could think of…I got in the shower and asked my villain, Droghan, why he was so cold-blooded. He’s willing to wipe out the entire human race just to try to kill ONE human woman because he’d rather kill us all than allow her to live – and he’s having a bit of trouble finding her. (Earth is, after all, a big place.) I was in the shower when he told me about his son. He broke my heart and made me feel what he felt, lost, alone, and angry at an unforgivable betrayal.
I guess, in my house, the shower should be called The Character Confessional, or The Interview Room. Half the time I get through my shower and can’t remember if I washed my hair or not, and if I did, if I remembered to rinse out the conditioner. Any of you have that problem? If so, it’s okay. You are not alone.
And when it comes to planet Earth in my story, ALLIANCE, neither are we!
For centuries aliens have waged a covert war for control of Earth using time travel as a weapon. A select group of humans become their soldiers, genetically modified pawns destined to be caught in the crossfire. But this time, the pawns have a plan of their own…and the fate of all mankind rests in their hands.
Don’t miss ALLIANCE, Book 1 in The Timewalker Chronicles, a series ten years in the making featuring time travel, aliens, special ops, genetic engineering, action, adventure, danger, gadgets, spaceships, and romance. Don’t miss it!
M.L. Callahan is a sci-fi fanatic and full time writer. Alliance is Callahan’s twelfth novel. Fans of Hugh Howey’s Wool series, Wayward Pines, Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s League Series, or Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series will not be able to resist Callahan’s complex world building, twisting plot lines, or unique premise. Callahan writes something brand new in the science fiction arena with character driven stories that read more like adventure books than hard science manuals. The Timewalker Chronicles are like nothing you’ve ever read before. Don’t miss this book!