Breaking Down

We call it by a lot of names: writer’s block, clamming up, or going dry. But at one point, right when you were at the climax of your story, you have felt that brick wall jump out of nowhere and smash you in the face. That story that you thought was so clear becomes hazy. The ending that was precise and refined becomes a slurry of mismatched themes and loose threads. You lose all motivation and start breaking down.


When this happens, often it is because there is something inherently wrong with the narrative. Your subconscious knows it and refuses you further inspiration until you deal with the problem. Which leads you into a trap, stuck without moving forward, but desperate to finish the story.

We need to find ways to get off this treadmill. Confronted by these walls, we must take a step back and start looking for a way forward, looking for holes in the masonry. We chip away at it, even if the entire structure falls away, to build something better.

That means that instead of doing it emotionally, we start breaking down the problem and looking at our writing in pieces. Perhaps the main character’s motivations aren’t clear, or our villain is slightly too Machiavellan, or the resolution too Hollywood. Thousands of microscopic problems might have infested our writing, so we track, analyse, and deal with the problem.

Sure, there is a time and place for the sledgehammer, to just bully our way through the wall. But if we listen to our instincts, and break down the problem piece by piece, we end up with better results.

Trust yourself and your process. Don’t walk away, just off to the side to get another perspective on the problem. Reflection and analysis are the way forward.

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