Tuesday, August 11, 2015

11 Three Techniques Guaranteed to Shatter Writer's Block and Get Your Mojo Back

by Martina Boone

When you're stuck and you can't figure out where your plot is going, it can be debilitating. It can make you doubt everything. Your idea, your skills, why you wanted to be a writer in the first place . . . In my experience--and that's all I can really speak to!--writer's block is nothing magical. It's my subconscious telling me I've taken a wrong turn somewhere, and all I need to get myself going again is an old-fashioned dose of creative brainstorming.

I start with three different ways of reassessing what I already know. Invariably, long before I've reached the end of this exercise, something has sparked my interest or alerted me to the problem.

You can work through these techniques one at a time, developing up to a hundred statements in one category before moving on to the next category, or you can jump from category to category at whatever point you like. There are no rules, except that you keep going and keep your butt in your chair until you're itching to write or until you've had an epiphany.

Ready? Let's get started.

Technique Number One: Declarative Sentences

Write one hundred declarative sentences about whatever story element you're trying to fix. Suppose you have a character, Daisy Dull as Dirt, who you don't know well enough. Make a list of what you do know, and then keep going as inspiration strikes.
  • Daisy is fifteen years old.
  • Daisy hates when the different foods on her plate touch each other.
  • Daisy talks too much and has no filter--she'll blurt out whatever comes to mind.
  • Daisy's inability to keep her thoughts to herself get her into trouble.
  • But her need to talk to people gets her back out of trouble.
  • Daisy learns that she has developed the ability to talk to anyone by drawing them out of their shells.
Revelation: Daisy's babbling isn't really babbling. She is actively listening and cataloging what she learns about the people she's talking to.

That's a revelation that you can use in many different ways, and it's a skill that helps not only your plot, but also your character development from the beginning of the book. She's had to be developing those skills all along. Where can you show that in your manuscript? Sometimes, just that small change can get you out of your block. If not, keep going. You'll find more revelations as you go.

Technique Number Two: Loves and Passions

Write one hundred (you won't get there, trust me) things that your characters love or have loved in their lives, or things/causes they're passionate about or have been passionate about in the past, and state why.
  • Daisy loves banana bread. She used to make it with her mother every Sunday morning, and just the smell of it reminds her of the warm kitchen and the soft Southern drawl of her mother's voice. (Wait. What happened to her mother? Why don't they do this anymore.)
See? It only needed that one statement to get to a revelation.

Technique Number Three: Hates and Conflicts

Write one hundred--although, again, you won't get there--things that one of your characters hates and another loves, or vise versa. Explain why they both feel the way they feel and how that puts them at odds with each other.
  • Daisy loathes runny eggs. They make her sick to her stomach because they remind her of the time her cat climbed up to a bird's nest and Daisy tried to save the eggs. Ralph, Daisy's love interest, loves runny eggs. They are a comfort food for him, because his father used to make him poached eggs on toast whenever he was sick. Ralph and Daisy have been in a plane crash and have to live off the land. Ralph gets up early after a rough night in the open and goes in search of food. He finds an old can, a stream, and a bird's nest with several eggs. He makes a fire and decides to poach the eggs and serve them on the stale crackers Daisy had stuffed in her purse. What happens when Daisy wakes up?
For the record. I knew nothing about Daisy, Ralph, or the plot of this story when I started writing this post. In just these short snippets working through the techniques, I've learned a LOT.

Whether you're trying to find a story, or trying to discover where your existing WIP took a turn it shouldn't have taken, these techniques are certain to get you writing again.




  1. "Writer's block is usually nothing magical. It's my subconscious telling me I've taken a wrong turn somewhere." Exactly. I can't remember when I discovered that but it was pretty cool. And I love your method for finding revelations :)

    1. You, too? : ) Isn't it funny how that little revelation completely changes the way we look at things?


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  2. Great techniques! I've found that free writing while I brainstorm helps me break writers block, and it's more or less what you have here. Except I pose it as a Q and A with myself. Lots of Why?

    1. That's another great technique -- motive is everything, isn't it? It tells us so much!

  3. Great techniques! Going to try them to get to know my characters better.

    1. Hope it works for you, Tricia! Let me know how it turns out.

  4. These are interesting techniques. I will try it and see if some work for me. They seem so easy when I read them, I hope I won't make them complicate when I try.

    1. That's really the key, Jennifer! Keep it simple and don't overthink it. Your subconscious is INCREDIBLY powerful, and you want to capture the first thoughts and insight it can offer up. Leave self-editing for later! ; ) good luck!


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