Have you ever pulled up your favorite writing chair, put down your steaming cup of coffee to get ready to write and…nothing? Sometimes the ideas just won’t come, and nothing can help you get those words down. You really want to finish your novel, but sometimes you haven’t got a clue where you are going with it.
It’s not because of a lack of talent – you’ve written some incredible things in the past. But now, you’re a few chapters in and you don’t know where your hero is going, or what he should do next.
Has your manuscript lost its mojo?
Are you struggling to know what to write next?
Are you staring at the blank page, hoping that somehow it will magically fill with words?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then I need you to know that it doesn’t have to be this way.
I have a solution for you – but it’s probably not what you think…
Expecting ideas to come out of nowhere
Sometimes yes, ideas can seem to come out of nowhere, but you can’t expect a constant stream of them exactly when you want them. It‘s like expecting an untrained dog to sit when you tell him to. You might be lucky occasionally, but a sure fire way to get him to do it every time is to coach him – and the same goes for writing.
You may have writer’s block because you can’t nail your idea down, or because you have too many jostling for attention. And like a dog desperate to do what you want, your ideas want to help, but they need to be trained to come at the right time.
Solving Your Writer’s Block in Less Than an Hour
I have a method I have used to complete novels in a few short months. And this was mostly when I was short on time and could only write in short bursts; sometimes only 5 or 10 minutes at a time. I needed to find a way to know exactly what I was writing and where my characters were going, and I did it by using that dreaded word that all creative people hate – ‘planning’.
Please bear with me, it’s not as bad as it sounds, I promise.
Just writing with no idea of what happens next is commonly known as ‘pantsing’, as in writing by the seat of your pants, and that is exactly what I used to do. Imagine if you could spend less than an hour mapping out your whole story though. If you have done it correctly, you will have detailed instructions for the direction of your book from start to finish. Any time you sit down to work on it, you’ll know exactly what to write.
There are so many benefits to creating a novel like this. You can write faster as you know exactly what should be happening and when, and it will also eradicate any plot holes or continuity errors. Let’s face it, it takes a long time to write a whole novel, and months may have passed between writing Chapter 1 and Chapter 20. The blue-eyed, blonde chain-smoker can accidentally turn into a smoky-eyed health-nut if you aren’t careful. OK, that might be a little extreme, but it is very easy to forget little mannerisms or eye colour from one end of the book to the other – not so if you have a plan.
How to Write Your Outline
It’s time to take off your metaphorical pants (or real ones, it’s up to you!) and stop being a pantser. It won’t hurt your creativity, but it will get rid of writer’s block and you will be writing a better quality, blockbuster novel at a faster pace.
The method I use takes me from my first idea, to sketching out each chapter and sometimes drilling down as far as each scene. That’s a bit too much to describe here, but I want to give you my first steps which will get you on the road to getting rid of your writer’s block right now.
This works for every type of genre as long as you don’t take each action too literally. For example, a journey isn’t necessarily a ‘Frodo drops the ring off’ kind of thing. In the case of a romance novel, it could be a journey of self-discovery.
1) It all begins with writing down a sentence that encapsulates your whole novel. Chances are if you’ve already done this, it becomes your elevator pitch. If people ask what you are writing about, this will be what you tell them.
2) Split your one sentence into four – one for each quarter of your book.
The first sentence explains what happens at the beginning of your novel. You will introduce your main character and the initial hook, followed by an incident that changes the life of your hero and keeps the reader desperate to know more.
The second sentence details the events that happen up to the middle of the book. The incident in the previous section must cause an upset in the hero’s life, making them begin an actual or metaphorical, emotional journey.
The third part describes the hero’s unsuccessful attempts to succeed at his quest, whatever that may be.
The last sentence will encapsulate the lead up to the final climax between the main players, followed by the aftermath and how everything has changed.
3) The next stage is to take each sentence and keep splitting it down and down until you are left with a description of each of your chapters.
Any novel worth reading keeps the reader gripped throughout and desperate to know more. Planning enables you to chart the rise and fall of action throughout your novel to make sure it is well-balanced, and resulting in it being unputdownable.
Phew, that’s a lot of information in a short time, but I hope that helps you start to get rid of your writer’s block, saving you time, energy and a whole lot of stress into the bargain. Planning may sound boring, but if it helps you write better, faster and with less plot holes and continuity errors, it has to be worth taking off your pants, doesn’t it?
Lizzie Jay is a fantasy and sci-fi author from Wales. Her non-fiction work is mostly geared towards helping new writers find their feet in the bewildering world of writing novels, non-fiction and ebook preparation. When she has her ‘fiction hat’ on she can be found updating her blog at LizzieJay.com.
She lives with her family in the Cotswolds, and when she isn’t writing can be found (not) completing killer sudokus, watching “Doctor Who”, and trying her hardest not to do anything athletic – mainly because she has the response times of a snail!
Join her at her blog PocketRead.co.uk/blog or on twitter @pocketread for hints and tips on writing and publishing ebooks.
If you want to know more, Lizzie Jay’s Step-by-Step Story Structure not only guides you from your initial sentence to mapping out each chapter in easy steps but also shows you how to expand upon each character and the connections they have with each other. It is the best way to avoid inconsistencies, get rid of writer’s block, and finish your novel faster.
Step-by-step Story Structure by Lizzie Jay is available as a Kindle ebook on Amazon and other major e-retailers. Here’s the URL to the book’s page on Amazon: myBook.to/step.