What to Write When There’s Nothing to Write: Camp NaNoWriMo Day 16

Camp NaNoWriMo Day 16!

What do you do to cure writer’s block? For me, it’s not a lack of story ideas that is the problem. It’s that I’ll get super excited about a new book idea, write the first 10,000 words, and then not know where to go from there.

It’s not like I haven’t planned out novel outlines before, either. By the time I’ve reached Chapter 2, I more often than not know the inciting incident, climax, and resolution of the story in very general terms. I think middles are the hardest to write. It’s easy to lose steam, and it’s hard to get your character to that mind-blowing, climactic scene.

I still experience writers block for almost every project I work on. Here are some ways I’ve gotten through it.

How to push past “the middles” writer’s block:

  • Put your manuscript down and write something else unrelated. Something small, like a crazy piece of flash fiction or a comic strip. Sometimes you just need to get away from the overwhelming feeling a large project like a novel gives you.
  • Power through it. Write the mundane anyway. Describe your character’s nighttime routine while you wait for the villain to arrive in town. NaNo was great for teaching me this – you don’t need to keep everything you write, but get the words down and the ideas will come.
  • Skip ahead to the next scene you’re excited about. This might be all the way to the climax where the city fountain explodes, but writer’s block resulting from a lack of interest is one of the least fun ones. See if you’re still excited, and you can fill in your story later.
  • Figure out the underlying problem. Maybe you don’t know your character well enough to feel like their decisions make sense. In that case, try interviewing your character on the page. Let their personality shine through their answers. Or maybe a fundamental part of the plot isn’t working and you’ve tried everything but the story won’t move forward as it is. In one of my drafts, my character had a superpower-like ability to create force fields around herself, but she was also going on a road trip adventure, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get those two ideas to fit. I realized I was trying to tell two different stories. So, I stashed away her superpower for another story. I had to do some big rewrites to the beginning, but my manuscript is better because of it. Turns out, my middles writer’s block was telling me there was something just not working, and I had to step back to see it.

Today’s haiku:

A box of treasures:
A rhyme, pause, a compliment
Rest when I can't write

Published by laurenhallstrom

Lauren is the author of two CIPA EVVY award-winning novels, both written when she was a teen. She writes contemporary fantasy for tweens and young adults. She holds an undergraduate degree in English at Colorado State University and currently works in a public library. More often than not you can find her there - promoting lifelong learning, staring off into space, and dreaming up new stories.

2 thoughts on “What to Write When There’s Nothing to Write: Camp NaNoWriMo Day 16

    1. Glad to hear it! It’s a nice reminder that putting pen to paper (or letters to Word doc?) in a draft doesn’t have to be a finalizing act – which is relieving for me. Best wishes for you on your own writing!

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