The Writer’s-Block Problem: FIXED!

I’m an indie-writer and indie-publisher; I publish my stuff to Amazon, Smashwords, and Kobo Books. I’m especially proud of my novel(la)s Cinderella, Zombie Queen and The Dessert Games.

I know about writer’s block. I have several times written halfway into a story—and suddenly I had no idea how to get from where I was then, to the ending that I wanted to write. That’s a scary place to be in; I’ve thought, Have I WASTED all the time I’ve spent so far, writing this story?

What I have found that works, when I get writer’s block, is to calm down and to abandon all hope that the entire (rest of) the plot will appear in my brain in one grand inspiration. Instead, I grab paper and I write down every idea that can get me even a tiny part of the way from Point Middle to Point End. An idea might be only one scene or plot point, but I write it down anyway. I don’t judge with thoughts like That’s a stupid idea. Instead, I write every little idea down.

Nor do I put pressure on myself, of I’ve thought up this little story idea, now I have to figure out how to use it. I don’t ever put myself in a position, when I’m brainstorming, of thinking I should do X, Y, and Z. At this point in the writing process, the word “should” is something I never say. I stay relaxed throughout, avoiding all thoughts that make me feel pressured, while I stay calmly confident that by writing down dozens of little ideas, I will sooner or later have a plot-plan.

Notice a trend here? Part of my trick to fixing writer’s block is to not panic, but instead to bring my mind to a Zen-like calm. How can I get so calm? By absolutely believing that Sooner or later, I’ll figure this out.

So far, this whole approach has worked every time: Every time I have calmed down and written down any and all little story ideas while trying to write a story, I’ve completed the story. (Then, once I’ve completed the first draft, I’ve torn up my pages of disjointed story ideas—tearing up the story-idea sheets is very satisfying.)

My process works, but it is not efficient. Coming up with a story outline in this way, takes me somewhere between forty and eighty hours of just sitting and thinking. Also inefficient: When I type “THE END” and tear up my idea-sheets, there will always be ideas written down that I never used. But if I have finished the first draft of the book, who cares?

I write down all my story ideas in one place. Rather than write ideas on sticky-notes and napkins and the backs of envelopes, I write everything into a college-lined, single-subject, spiral notebook. (If I do write down an idea onto a napkin, sooner or later I’ll copy the words on that napkin into my notebook.)

Putting all of my written ideas in one place makes for better organization, yes; but I also write all my ideas in that spiral notebook so I can take the notebook with me when I go to bed. I can’t count the number of times that an idea came to me as I was falling asleep, or in the first minute when I woke up. When this happens, I write my idea into my notebook before I do anything else. Ideas popping into my head when I’m in bed has happened so often that now I keep a pen and an LED flashlight (along with my notebook) by my bed.