Written by Rachel Beck
Some days, the words will flow seamlessly from your immortal dream through your fingers and into the keyboard. Most days, you’ll have to work to push them out and you’ll find yourself hesitating roughly every third sentence. Other days, twenty minutes and then a half hour go by and you haven’t written more than a paragraph. This advice is for those days. You’ve got this.
Change Up Your Writing Style
Avant! Take hold the flapping reins of language and let the beast bear you away to the left-behind shores of eloquence. Let Shakespeare be your breath and Poe your noonday bread. Sample the phrases of the poets and feast upon the syntax of scholars.
See? It’s fun to write in a different style and, often times, just switching it up will make the words come a bit easier. Be dramatic. Be overly dramatic. You can change it back later when you’re editing. The above paragraph isn’t well written, but I enjoyed writing it. If you’re having trouble, try wearing a top hat. I hear that helps.
Dialogue is the lazy student’s way of hitting a minimum page requirement in a creative writing class. Since you’re reaching for a word count, the page length won’t help you, but having two or more people going at it might get things rolling. Introduce an old beggar or a chatty bar patron if you must. Make an adult explain his actions to a child, or visa versa. Don’t worry if the conversation doesn’t move the plot forward. It will still: a) build momentum and b) explore your character further. The latter makes it worth it even if the dialogue is stricken from the final draft.
Explain How Something Works
I once spent eight pages explaining the basics of exercising a Pegasus. It had nothing to do with the rest of the book and never came up again.* That useless explanation helped me meet my word count for the week and got me to the next scene. Explain the quirks or mechanics of your world. If it’s set in the “real” world, it’s still quirky. Probably quirkier than fiction.
Skip to the Next Scene
If all else fails, just skip to the next scene. Seriously, what’s stopping you? Too many writers feel like they need to fill space. Don’t force it. You can fill in transitions later. Just skip to the next interesting part. Your reader is going to do that anyway, so why make it difficult for them?
Writing is tough and don’t let anyone, including yourself, tell you otherwise. You have something worth saying, even if you’re really bad at saying it. Technique will come. In the mean time, post this on your bathroom mirror, desktop background, and fridge door: “You’ve got this. Keep writing.” (really, click this image and download it and put it everywhere)
* I am forever indebted to my mentor who read the entire 85,000-word monstrosity and still told me it was good and I should move forward.