How to Overcome Writer's Block: Using Character Journals to Explore Your Story
If you're like me, you've experienced writer's block. It can feel like a wall you can't seem to break through, no matter how hard you try. You might stare at a blank page for hours or write and rewrite the same sentence over and over again. Maybe, you're like me, and you leave the story for weeks, months, or maybe years before you go back to it to work things out. It's a creative rut, and you can feel defeated and hopeless. The struggles of writer's block are real, but there is a technique I use that can also help you work through this challenging time and come out with renewed inspiration about your story.
Writer's block was something I faced when I first started writing. I was working on my first novel and hit a wall. I rewrote the beginning several times, but it always stalled around chapters 3 and 4. I was frustrated. I had done a character questionnaire on all my characters, but I soon realized I didn't know them. And that was key for me.
I'm not an outliner. I've tried it although it can give me ideas about how the story can go, I've never stuck to one. For me, it's best to start writing the story once I know the opening scene, the main characters, and the conflict. Everything else develops as I go. It's a style that works for me, but it also means writer's block has become too close of a friend.
To overcome writer's block, I had to stop and get to know my main characters, and one of my ways of doing this is through character journals, which is how the first story of Anyia was developed. Anyia is part of a bigger story, and I couldn't get a handle on who she was, so I started her character journal.
Now, most of my character journals are rambles. Most of it won't make it into the story, but what it does for me is open me up to be free with my writing while testing situations with my characters. It might start with the beginning of their day and mid-paragraph jump to a different day and problem. And I let myself ramble. Explore the character and the world. Find out what they see when they wake up, where they hide when they're scared, and why something bothers them. I put them in front of their nemesis and see how they react, especially when they're not ready to face them. By doing this, I get to know my characters and see their world, which helps me work through my writer's block.
Here are some steps to work through writer's block using character journals:
Identify the characters in your story that you're having trouble writing about. Make a list of their names and any key details you've established in your story.
Write in the journal from the character's perspective. Think about their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. You can use prompts like "What did I do today?" or write a scene about where they hid when they were scared or didn't get something they wanted.
Don't worry about writing anything that's directly related to your story. This is a chance to explore your character and their world without the pressure of moving the plot forward.
Keep writing in the journal for as long as you need to. You might write a lot in one sitting or just a few sentences. The important thing is to keep showing up and writing consistently.
After a few days of writing in the journal, go back and review what you've written. Look for any insights or details that could be incorporated into your story.
Repeat the process with another character from your list. You might find that writing from a different perspective helps to unlock new ideas and move your story forward.
By using character journals, you're able to explore your characters in more depth and gain a better understanding of their motivations and perspectives. This can help to break through writer's block and generate new ideas for your story.
I hope this helps. :)