Defeat Writer’s Block with 5 Simple Questions (Tips for Fiction Writers—and the Rest of Us!)

Some writers have an idea for a story, other writers begin with a character, and some have no clue what they’ll write until they start. But no matter the path, what happens if you’re stumped? What happens if you become consumed by the dreaded “writer’s block” or the fear of one day having writer’s block?

This happened to me, sort of. After having written five books, I was stumped on my sixth. I had an idea for a protagonist and wanted to write a romance novel, but beyond that, I wasn’t sure.

I think there’s a common misconception among aspiring authors that writing is easy. At any stage of a manuscript, writing can be and often is difficult. I’ve read client’s manuscripts with mouthwatering plots and colorful characters, manuscripts I can’t wait for other readers to enjoy. And yet, months later, the author hasn’t completed edits or even read through them. Why? I think it boils down to fear. And fear is real to the person experiencing it. The trick is not to let this fear stop you from moving forward.

When a writer is stumped, or has writer’s block, the best thing you can do is free your mind and make yourself write. It’s that easy. And it’s that hard. If you need a vacation, take a vacation. But when you return, make yourself sit at the computer and write. Nothing puts words on a page like writing them.

Whenever something challenging comes along, I run toward it. I believe this is key to becoming a successful writer. Writer’s block develops when I have trouble creating a solid plot, a specific and believable conflict for a character, or the perfect ending to my story.

If this happens to you, I suggest rolling the writer’s block clock back to the basics—to the elements of your story.

A friend asked last year, “How do you write a book?” I replied by emailing her a handful of links and book titles to jump-start her in the right direction. I realized she might be overwhelmed by my response, but I didn’t know how else to reply. This conversation was what led me down a path to writing my own book. A Wordy Woman’s Guide for Writing a Book is a guide covering the basics of writing for aspiring authors unsure of where to begin, and it can help with the occasional writer’s block.

If you have writer’s block, answer these five questions:

  1. What genre are you writing?
  2. Who is your target audience?
  3. What is the primary theme?
  4. What is the primary conflict?
  5. What is the inciting incident?

If you can answer these five questions, you’ll have a much better idea how to begin chapter one. Whether you want to outline your book or not is up to you. But once you have chapter one written, the door is open for chapter two. And I’ll be here cheering for you on the other side.

Dawn Husted is passionate about offering resources for aspiring female authors. She is the author of multiple books, including A Wordy Woman’s Guide, and works as a developmental editor. Through her books and blog posts, Dawn hopes to inspire other writers.

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