Stuck? Writers block? Not sure how to get out?

I’ve always maintained I don’t suffer from “writer’s block”, there’s always something I can write.  However, finally, I’ve come close.  I got stuck.  It’s the fourth Inspector Kirby book and I’d written about 30,000 words.  I had the basic idea and a story was unfolding.  The characters were getting to grips with it and then… I just couldn’t see where it was going.  Now I’ve written books a number of ways, everything from simply starting and seeing where it goes, to having a basic outline from beginning to end.  I’ve also written half a book and decided that I have to have a plan for the last half otherwise I’ll lose track.  This book I thought was somewhere between the latter and needing a basic outline for the complete story.  Only that outline was incomplete.

I’d started with what I thought was a great idea, a single “what if”.  I began writing, believing the story would unfold in my head and sooner or later the ending would suggest itself.  Then in about July it stalled.  I didn’t worry about it to start with.  I had always wanted to revisit the first book I wrote and had two follow up books to revise and polish.  I thought I’d get on with them, after all they’re not doing any good just sitting on my hard drive.  I also had the paperback versions of the Inspector Kirby books two and three to sort out.  So I started on all that, returning to the troublesome story from time to time.  I came up with a new character to add more depth and twists, however in some ways it was just adding complication.  I wanted to try and plan the ending, because after all that’s what everything’s leading up to.  Also, with a detective mystery you need to sprinkle clues and hints along the way.  Still it wouldn’t come.  I went on holiday with the intention of letting my subconscious mind work on it while my conscious mind was distracted (often works for me).  However, it seems my subconscious mind also decided it needed the holiday and didn’t come up with anything.

So now we’re into October.  I’ve wiped my white board clean and started jotting down ideas.  However, while some of these are helping with bits of the story I still don’t have the ending I want.  I have one or two ideas, but I’m keen to avoid simply reworking a theme I’ve used before.  I’ve read books in a series, where you get to the end and think “that sounds familiar”.

So how to get out of this conundrum?  Well for one thing I think I’ve kind of forgotten a key piece of advice I read when I first started writing i.e. “if in doubt just write”.  It does work.  How often have I sat at my PC with no real idea of what I’m going to write?  I’ll start with a sentence which leads to another and another and before I know it a chapter has unfolded on the screen, which leads to… well, you get the idea.  It’s also similar to the advice my Inspector Kirby gives Shirley, ‘”if in doubt follow your nose”  or “take it one step at a time”.  You may not know exactly where it’s taking you but it’s got to lead somewhere.

So, at the moment that’s what I’m doing.  I’m back in the heart of the story, writing.  I’ve decided to add that new character and I believe it works.  I’ve written in those good ideas and rearranged and amended other chapters to weave them into the story.  And as for that illusive finale?  Well the next few chapters are suggesting themselves and while the end still isn’t there I feel the mist is clearing revealing more of what lies ahead.  I just need to keep faith with myself and keep writing.  After all I’ve done it before!

I’ll let you know.

As always comments are welcome.

Ian Martyn

Author: Ian Martyn

Science Fiction Writer

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