Ideas to Hack Down Writers’ Blocks

Overwriting your writer’s blocks is much like making cord bracelets. What is blocking you is maybe the temporary inability to generate new ideas, or to come up with the proper design, or the fact that you struggle with too many ideas. So, twist and turn your neurons into unusual, unexpected shapes in order to produce and curl those ideas.

Image by עיזים אדירים (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons
Voice your goals for the day.

Tell someone what you intend to achieve in the morning and ask them to check on you in the evening. Avoid stringing words in bunches, saying something like, “I’ll write 1000 words today.” Yeah… Not gonna happen. Instead, define goals, “I’m going to outline a new chapter or sketch one scene or chart my character’s arc.” Hey, any amount of words or pages will do. Being accountable can help motivate you.



Ask yourself, “What if?” And let the party begin!

Oskar Herrfurth [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Break that wall, that clean white page, and discover what’s hidden behind.

Shoot for 10 answers. What if Snow White is a transgender or a cyborg? What if the dwarfs are blind mice? What if Snow White lives in a mechanical pumpkin that picks itself up? What if…?




Splash cool ideas all over the page.

Sketch your novel’s places or floor plans.

Image by Unknown, 17. century [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Start a new trend of fashion for your heroes. What would stand on their desk? A pair of handmade fish maybe,  if your hero visited Malaysia.What would be hanging on their walls? What would your heroes do for fun? Can you start a scene with this activity? Choose their favorite songs or recipes. Steal one of your heroes’ journal or maybe your villain’s diary. What would you read in it? Interview someone on one aspect of your book and use parts of the interview or the conversation to start up your writing. Get to know the world in you novel to the last detail.


Research subcultures.

Image by Bur [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Research tidbits that you feel need to be part of your story like girls cliques or men bonding rites. What role would they play in your novel? What conflicts would they introduce? Research a strange item that could be meaningful for your heroes and their social life and write about it. Does this item can link them together? The culture or subculture of your heroes can give you clues about what paths your story can take and what will stand in the way. What aspect of their subculture could conflict with other subcultures? A Russian bride might clash with people set against arranged marriages. A vegetarian hero would have a hard time fitting in a barbecue party. Think about the role of tattoos in The Mortal Instruments. Sometimes research can reshuffle the cards for you.



Image by David Revoy / Blender Foundation (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
Decide on the mood you want to instill. Make a list of words that will reflect this: sticking webs, painted thorns coming alive, snow falling early in the fall, tiles raining down from the roofs for no reason. Think about the way a Gothic setting influences the story with its gloomy castles and damp forests.


Surprise yourself.

Allow your heroes to surprise you. Your heroine might dye her hair blue, or she could pin woodoo dolls on people’s doors to give them a fright, or she could fight dirty with a pair of high heels she spent hours sharpening. Think about strange habits that might play a role in the plot. Why would your hero pluck the heads of roses in a bouquet? Why would your heroine wear an antique brooch on her hat or a worn out ribbon around her wrist?



Image by Sean McGrath from Quispamsis, NB, Canada (The Wizard Uploaded by Hekerui) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Use props. Maybe Snow White made a collage of her latest conquests or she wrote a poem about a flock of robotic birds crossing the galaxy. Maybe she has a favorite camera. If she took a hundred pictures of the same subject or selfies, would that tell something about her? What pets do your heroes have?

The more you curb your mind and get closer to your hero, the more you will produce and avoid those pesky writers’ blocks. Fill your bucket of ideas, open up your options, and dig in. New paths will open, some doors will close and hopefully your world will disentangle in front of you.




I you liked this post, Sussu Leclerc unravels more secrets of stories on her website, at Novel Without Further Ado and on Twitter.


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