Sometimes the river of words dries up, even for the most experienced authors. This used to be my default mode. It’s the very reason I have a tote full of partially written stories. I’d start the novel, thousands of words would pour out, then they trickled before turning into a drip that found my fingers hovering over the keyboard trying to figure out what to write. The rule to follow to combat writer’s block is:
Write whatever, without inhibition.
For me, writer’s block isn’t me not knowing what to write, just not knowing what to write for that particular part of the story. I didn’t know what to write for that part of the story. Back then I thought I had to write stories chronologically, start at chapter 1, then chapter 2, followed by chapter 3, and so on until the last chapter. This didn’t work for me because while chapter 6 may be the next chronologically, none of the words are flowing for it. Meanwhile, I’m holding chapter 12 back with a damn because I have to write in the proper order.
So, yeah, no. There is no proper order. If there is, the proper order is however you write. I figured this out when I was struggling to write a part of act one for a novel but kept jotting down sticky note after sticky note for the middle of act three. They were supposed to be notes but my “notes” became a three-foot-long chain of stickies. I gave up writing by some arbitrary rule I made up. If I’m making up rules, they should make the process easier for me, not more difficult. I made the rule to write whatever was flowing regardless of what part of the story it was or even if it’s part of another story. This may sound chaotic because it is and I’ll post someday about how I organize the chaos.
Another problem is my internal editor inhibits my writing. She’s hypercritical of my writing abilities and loud and obnoxious about it to boot. For example, she would have had me rewriting the previous sentence because a real writer would not have used and twice so close to each other. She believes every single word needs to be absolutely perfect. Oh, and she’s screaming now because I used an adverb. She reminded me time and time again of the rule regarding not using adverbs. Oh, and how she hounds me to fix every misspelled word the moment the red squiggly line appears because any legit writer can spell. My internal editor’s sole purpose is to inhibit the writing process until I give up.
I can go on and on about all the ways she tries to slow me down and stop me, but I’ll tell you I stopped her by duct taping her mouth shut because she wouldn’t be quiet when I asked nicely. Seriously, I quieted the voice in my head by reminding myself of rule #1- just write. If a word is misspelled, I just keep on moving because the seconds it takes to go back to correct one word means five new words not written (and probably misspelled). Those new words are far more valuable than any correction. In fact, all new words are preferential to fixing grammar errors or struggling to think of the perfect word. I calm my inner editor by telling her she’ll get to shine during the editing process, but only if she’s quiet during the writing process. She shut up at the opportunity to sink her teeth into 50k words instead of 50 words.
These issues may not be yours. Whatever causes your writing block, this rule still applies. Writing is the only way around writer’s block. Write in a different order while ignoring the errors. Write something other than your story, like a blog post, an epic length text, or a journal entry. It doesn’t matter what you’re writing as long as you’re writing. Plus, if you stop writing you’re not adhering to rules 1 or 2.