On Writing: Force the Conversation

Calvin and Hobbes

No matter how good of a planner you are, no matter how much you outline your novel, you’re going to get stuck at some point.

Telling a writer that he’s/she’s going to inevitably hit a writer’s block is like telling a whale that it’s going to eventually get beached, no matter how hard it tries to avoid it.

But it’s reality. And you’ll find pages upon pages and articles upon articles on how to avoid (or get through) writer’s block, and I almost feel like I need to apologize for contributing to the cacophony of mixed and mingled suggestions.

But I won’t.

I also won’t claim that my way is the right answer or even the best way.

I believe everyone has a different way of getting through writer’s block, just like we all have a different way of accomplishing our writing.

I’m simply just going to share my way of getting through it. And bare in mind, I’m writing three books at once, so I run into it pretty frequently.

How do I get past it and go to bed each night with yet another couple of pages under my belt?

It’s simple: I write.

On my teen book which I’m working on, now titled, These Great Effects, I had my main character sitting on her bed, flipping through her crush’s phone to learn more about him. I needed another scene with her interacting with her mom, so I had her mom enter her room (“Knocking as she entered, of course”), and… I hit a wall.

But how did I get through it? I forced the conversation. Sure, there’s a lot of awkward silences and hesitant comments as I struggled through the scene, trying to decide why mom had come into her room.

But the more I wrote the scene out, stumbling along, finding my footing, learning about my characters, I hit on a line that will eventually turn the book into the direction I want it to go.

(Mom asks Adele, the main character, to attend one of her dad’s campaign gatherings with him, which is where the plot of the story will pick up.)

The point is, you’ve got to struggle through those scenes when you just don’t know where it’s going to lead you. It might take a few tries; you might change it tomorrow or you might change it a year from now. The point is, you just built in one more step to get the rest of your book completed.

And even if it’s a little wobbly, you can always go back and fix it.

Remember, it’s a writer’s block – intended for writers, and if my baby’s aiqddKkiMpresence has taught me anything, it’s that blocks are pretty easy to pick up.

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About Andrew Toy
I'm in the beginning stages of starting my own publishing company that's unlike anything you've ever heard of in the industry. The direction of AdoptingJames is taking a 90-degree turn and will be more writing/publishing-focused. Stay tuned for huge updates and exciting news!

39 Responses to On Writing: Force the Conversation

  1. erikakind says:

    I know that very well. I got blocked when my father died two years ago. For my kind of books I need a peaceful atmosphere within me. ButI was so thrown towords the floor and overwhelmed with what we had to do and to keep my mother strong that I was standing next to myself. I knew that my alignment was back, when the first lines flew out of my fingers again!

  2. artistdevee says:

    I think your advice for life can be used for life in general:)

  3. I love Calvin and Hobbes so much. I have great memories of my son reading those comics out loud to our family when he was young.

    I have tried to just keep writing when I feel a little blocked, but my approach to getting through is just to step back and do something else for awhile. It can wait. I do eventually get back to the project and keep on going. But sometimes I just need time to mull things over and think. But your advice is good, of course! Wow, I can’t believe you are writing three books at once. I would get my characters all mixed up if I tried that!! 😉

    I just started reading a wonderful book called “The Art of Slow Writing” by Louise DeSalvo. She says in her introduction, “In ‘The Art of Writing,’ I write about that major challenge affecting all writers: our need to slow down to understand the writing process so we can do our best work……Slow writing is a meditative act. It acknowledges that we are all beginners and insists we cultivate empathy for ourselves because being a writer isn’t easy. Slow writing is a way to resist the dehumanization inherent in a world that values speed. It’s one way to find – or return to – our authentic selves.”

    This encouraged me a great deal; I hope it encourages others. Read this book if you haven’t already! 🙂

  4. Katherine Rebekah says:

    She was flipping through his phone!? Sounds like a conflict waling to happen…. Are you going to be posting chapters of this novel on your blog like you have with your other books? I’m interested due to the fact that the target audience is teen’s and I myself fall into that category.

    • You can count on it. Keep checking in. It’s still in its early stages, but I’m ultra-excited to share what I’ve got so far with you all. I’m looking for a couple of teens who’d want to head up a Facebook page to promote it, so if know of anybody, let me know. I’ll be more than happy to share the book concept with you.

      • Katherine Rebekah says:

        I will definitely keep checking in. Unfortunately I can’t promote it any further then on my own blog as I don’t use Facebook, but I would be glad to give you feed back on the concept, plot, characters, or anything else you would like. You can e-mail me via this contact form if you would like some “teenage perspective”.


  5. lljostes says:

    Thanks for the seasoned encouragement!

  6. Jim woods says:

    The tip comes at just the right time.

  7. dbp49 says:

    That’s pretty much my answer when I’m stuck. Write, write, and write some more. Eventually, I just pound my way through the block, and away I go.

  8. Thank you James! Wonderful words and much needed right now. Writing is far more perspiration than inspiration. Just run with it and see what happens.

  9. A.J. Will says:

    I find the simple encouragement to just keep writing never gets old. Thank you!

  10. InfoJunkie says:

    Great post! Writer’s block is unavoidable as a writer. And as pesky as it can be, I do think it makes us stronger. In a way.

  11. Faith Simone says:

    I think that moving through writer’s block is what separates the amateurs from the professionals. When a writer takes their work seriously, they understand that sometimes you have to do it even when you’re uninspired or just plain don’t feel like it. I think the concern with new writers (and I still consider myself a new writer) is that if they force the process, the writing won’t be good. What I’ve discovered is that sometimes in the moments when you press on, brilliance is born. You look back on what you wrote a few days later and think, “Well now, this is pretty darn good!”

  12. Doug says:

    Great advice, thanks. Three books at once huh? I have stories dancing through my head but I find it difficult to work on more than one story at a time plus live out my day job and try to remember to sleep and eat once in a while. I’d be interested to hear about how you plan out your schedule.

  13. Devin K Pope says:

    Great post – I completely agree with your advice. And cheers to you! Three books at once is a. lot. 🙂

  14. brandonthimmesch says:

    Thank you for this post, it really provides some great advice on how to keep moving forward. Lately I have had serious writer’s block, and your advice has been very helpful in motivating me to continue with my writing.

  15. I like the point you made to basically just write. When the block hits, and I stare at the paper (screen, technically) for a few minutes with nothing coming. I’ll get up and do something else for a few minutes. Then I’ll either go back and read a chapter or two, or I’ll write something. Often it makes no sense, but it words filling up the white space. I’ll stare at those words, move them around, add/delete, and pretty soon I’m writing the story–not always in the same direction that I started.

  16. Reblogged this on quirkywritingcorner and commented:
    I love the cartoon with this. My writer’s block felt three times the size of the one in the picture! I’d start writing and spend hours on one single page. I should have finished the novel by now and started on the next one.

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