Whenever I have a particularly challenging writing problem, this is my go-to. (Tells you something abput how I work, eh?)
Many times as writers we are told to write through the block. To force the words out onto the page despite how awful or misled they might be. Indeed, there are month-long writing events to encourage that spewing forth of words. But what if that’s wrong?
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve written about NaNoWriMo a lot, and participated for many years. But sometimes, blindly writing into a deep hole is not the answer. In fact, at times writing blindly and forcing yourself through a block will just force you down a path that your story should not be going in the first place.
There is value in getting the words down, especially if you are merely procrastinating and not writing because you “don’t have enough time” or “the words aren’t perfect” or you’re caught up (endlessly) editing what you’ve already written. But if that’s not your problem and you’re facing a block of where you don’t know where you should take your protagonist next, or you don’t know how to get them from point A to point B, then maybe it’s time to step back and take a break.
Sleep on it.
Here are three reasons that sleeping on it can be the right answer:
- It can allow you to ruminate on different possibilities and where each might take you.
- It allows your subconscious to work on the problem while you are actively engaged elsewhere. (Don’t think this works? Just try it.)
- It refreshes you for facing the problem the next day.
Almost always when I have reached a point of exhaustion or block, taking a step back gives me clarity and the ability to focus when I return to my project.
How do you work? Does sleeping on it fix your blocks or do you have another method that works for you? Tell me in the comments below!