Both writers of fiction and nonfiction run into roadblocks with their writing, that’s not surprising. However, there is a very specific block that seems to especially plague fiction writers. Usually, it happens before the writer has even started writing their story, but it’s also very common for this to occur once the writer is about one third or halfway through the project.
This writing block is rooted in a lie that the writer tells themselves that they don’t even know is a lie—and they don’t know it’s a lie because so many mainstream writing guides and sources of writing advice online tell them that they have to do this same thing too. So, when they can’t do it, or they run into severe difficulties with it, they immediately blame themselves and go into creative shut-down.
Almost every time I do a consultation with a new client, it’s a writer who is absolutely sure they know what their problem is. Much of the time they tell me they need to learn “craft and structure.” Sometimes they say they need to take more classes or read more books on writing. Frequently I hear that they just need to be “better,” with all the vague intention that implies.
But one thing is always the same. They are paralyzed, stuck, frustrated, and feeling hopeless and sad about their writing.
I was in the middle of writing a steamy sex scene toward the end of my novel and writing so fast my hand was cramping up. My two main characters were finally hooking up and the chemistry was sizzling. But then…I got stuck. I had to describe something that was, ahem, an intimate body part in a somewhat contorted position and I just didn’t have the words. I paused and started to think, but as I was thinking I could feel myself losing the magic of momentum. So, I pushed on as best I could, using horrible clumsy words that weren’t right at all, but knowing I needed to place priority on pinning down the emotions in the moment. I could come back later and fix everything else up.
Every time I embark on writing a new novel, it’s like total amnesia sets in about the last time I wrote a novel. The beginning is incredibly fun. The characters are fresh and new and interesting. They’re the irresistibly charismatic people I’ve just met at a party who I want to talk to all night. The story itself is intriguing. I can’t wait to find out what’s really going on and how it all turns out. Eagerly, I set to work and I just know it, this is going to be the best book I’ve ever written.
And then…I hit the middle.