We’ve all experienced it. We’re working on a project, and it hits us like a ton of bricks! Nothing, we’re drawing a blank… Enter writer’s block! It’s ultimately a problem that has plagued writers from all walks of the industry, but fear not! There is a solution!
To understand the solution, we must first understand why writer’s block occurs in the first place. According to Wikipedia, writer’s block may have several causes. Some are creative problems that originate within an author’s work itself. A writer may run out of inspiration, or be distracted by other events. Other blocks may be produced by adverse circumstances in a writer’s life or career: physical illness, depression, the end of a relationship, financial pressures, or a sense of failure. However, throughout all of the studies and research done on this topic, every single one of these reasons all boil down to one root cause: A disconnect between the author and the project.
Great! Now that we know what causes it, how do we fix it? Well, as unrealistic as it sounds, writer’s block doesn’t actually exist! Again, it’s only a disconnect between the author and their project. So, the key to eliminating the problem is to change the author’s perception of the problem in the first place! Seems easy, right? Think of it this way, if you’re driving down a road, and you see a billboard on one side of the street and a gas station on the other, you may know the location. However, if you switch the gas station and the billboard to the opposite sides of the street, it may seem like a completely different street.
That is the overall concept! The idea is to change the author’s perception of the problem and have them solve simpler, logical problems instead. The only catch is, they’re just solving the issue in reverse without realizing it… Let’s put this to an example for good measure!
You’re going to start by defining where it is you first encountered the issue. This moment would be where the actual writer’s block happens! First the character goes to the store, then the character goes to the mall, and then as the character is waiting in line… No idea. That’s the starting point. Again, this should be defined clearly! Use as much detail as possible so you are left with a full understanding of what is happening and why! It’s also important to note that if you are experiencing this issue in the beginning of the story, you may have to create a new storyline that explains what happened prior to the beginning of your story! For example, how did the characters earn the right to be in your story in the first place? What brought them to the beginning of your story? Why is it important to start where you’re starting, and what events led up to this point in time? Keep in mind, this is not going to be in your story so all of these details are variable. So, as long as they match up and are consistent with your storyline, you can’t mess it up!
Now comes the tough part! It’s not super difficult, but not everyone will know where this point occurs. Let’s face it, you already don’t know where to go, how would you know where it’s going? Different levels of pre-planning do make a difference in this though (You should be following the ABP rule… ALWAYS Be Pre-planning!). The only thing you need to know is where you are going to end up to start the next act. This would be the “If I could just get to this point, I would be good from there” point. You’ll be repeating the ideas of the first step on this one. Define it clearly! More importantly, what is the first event of this sequence? That’s the main focus here! Also, similar to the last step, if the problem is with the story’s ending, you can use a variable storyline to figure out what happens after the resolution. Where do the characters go from there? What do they do next? What were the results of the story? And so on… Again, there are no right or wrong answers here as long as it aligns with the story itself, so be creative!
Here comes the magic! This final step is where you take the last event of the sequence in step one, and the first event of the sequence in step two and connect them! You start at the end and slowly move backwards in slow, logical steps until you reach the beginning event. Here’s an example:
“John saves the city (event), in order for John to save the city, he as to defeat the dragon (action), in order for John to defeat the dragon (last action turned into the event), he has to fight the dragon (new action which becomes the next event), in order for John to fight the dragon, he has to find the dragon (new action), in order for him to find the dragon, he has to look for the dragon (new action) and so on…”
See! It’s easy, it’s logical, and it’s slow. If you think you’re being too obvious about this, you’re probably doing it correctly! You’d follow this trail all of the way until you hit the last event of the clearly defined starting point and BOOM! You’re connected! Now just flip the steps around, and you have your roadmap! This is the spine of the story and you can add whatever elements you’d like, as long as you don’t sacrifice the core of the story!
With that being said, Script Screener offers a tool with their free membership that does this for you. They’ve taken the liberty of putting it right on your user dashboard for easy access to use as many times as you need to! The tool is nothing more than a simple form that extracts these ideas and puts it in a convenient, downloadable PDF file for you to keep! It’s extremely useful, and now that you’re armed with the knowledge of how it works, busting writer’s block should be the easy part of your day! Happy writing!