Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hitting the Wall

This is a piece I originally composed for Nancy J. Parra's site - Room With A View

Hitting the Wall

Hitting the wall. Losing one’s muse. Grinding to a halt. These phrases describe a very discouraging situation also known as writer’s block. Why does it happen and what can we do to correct the problem?

Creative difficulties occur for a number of reasons. Perhaps things were running smoothly and then our story ran out of gas. Maybe we have grown careless with our processes and habits, rendering us unprepared for challenges. Our enthusiasm may wane, draining all motivation. Bottom line – we hit a wall when we lose sight of our goal. Without a clear target, we begin to drift and our story may stall.

How can we prevent the proverbial wall from appearing? How can writers apply the power of defined goals to their situation?

An outline provides a writer with a clear path to follow. Writing without an outline is like driving without a map –we don’t know where we’re going. A basic synopsis, complete with ending, will keep our story flowing forward. With an outline, we always have the option of skipping ahead to the next scene just to keep creativity flowing, thus preventing writer’s block from stopping us cold.

An outline will also keep us from wandering from our original idea. Think of all the time we save when we stop chasing rabbits! A physical outline is far more effective than a mental one, too. Our brilliantly conceived story will hold our interest if we can view concrete ideas and plans. Relying on the wisp of an idea in our minds is too vague and eventually leads to frustration. Write out the basic plot and set it in stone.

It takes more than an outline, though. The real strength of our resolve to stay on target resides between our ears! Our attitude and determination will play a pivotal role in our ability to move past obstacles. How strong is the desire to see our vision develop into a tangible story that others can enjoy? It will not matter how well constructed the outline if the story does not ignite the fire in our soul.

Is it really that simple? An outline and our attitude? Yes, because all it really takes to overcome any challenge or problem is a dream and a desire!

So, make preparations before the wall appears on the horizon and the inspirational muse goes missing. Plan a course of action and get excited about the journey. Remember, we don’t have time for obstacles in our path. We’ve got a story to write!


  1. AnonymousMay 31, 2009

    I appreciate the article. I agree an outline can help, even though I have to admit I'm not very diligent about writing them out and sticking to them. More of a wing it kind of writer. I write my way through walls, even if it's uninspired drivel. Then I make sure I'm in the zone when I rewrite during the self-editing phase. Works for me. :)

    The Old Silly from Free Spirit Blog

  2. Sometimes, if I get stuck, I do something else, like mop or pull weeds. By letting my mind wander, I usually come up with a solution to my problem.

    Straight From Hel

  3. Helen, if you'd like to pull weeds at my house, feel free!

  4. If any of your readers have writer's block a GREAT book to read is by Stephen Pressfield. It's called "The War of Art." I highly recommend it even if you don't think you have writer's block. That was me. I didn't think I could benefit from the book because I have never experienced writer's block. It made me realize I was experiencing it in a different way--through procrastination!


  5. I don't believe in walls, Diane. If you don't believe in them, you can't hit them. Truly. This works. (-:

  6. I don't write outlines. I tried once but found it too constricting. But then I've never run out of steam or lost my direction either.

    I have to know what happens next and that is what keeps my writing flowing.

    If I knew how it ended when I started - I wouldn't bother writing it in the first place. :-)

  7. Allyn, I will look for that book, although I am anything but a procrastinator.

    And I think in a recent post of Chester's he said an author friend admitted she never knew who the killer was until the end, either, and he felt that was cheating the reader. I'll always believe in an outline. I will admit though, the outline is my second time running through a story. It has always played out completely in my head before I commit anything to paper.

  8. Hi! thanks for the link back- :)

    I think this is a very good blog with an important message. cheers!