A few weeks ago, I made this post talking about a unique way to beat writer’s block. For this week, I have a different method that might help. If you’re stuck on what to write next, maybe the best thing to do would be to write something else. Take a step back from the story your working on and try creating a flash fiction piece instead.
That advice might sound odd. Why throw yourself into another project when you can’t get past the one you’re on? It could be you’re stuck because these characters aren’t grabbing you, the plot isn’t interesting you, or the pacing is too slow at this point. The story just isn’t moving along, but you want to write. Why not put that energy into a different piece of work?
The nice thing about flash fiction is that it’s short. It takes less time to reread it and revise it than it would a 200 page novel, which is nice when all you want to do is be at that finishing point. I get writer’s block for a number of reasons, but sometimes it’s not because I have a lack of ideas, but because I have too many ideas. There’s an abundance of plots and characters that I want to put on paper, but I don’t know how to make those notes coherent. When I do, it becomes a mess that I have to gradually sort through until the story appears and sometimes that feels like an impossible task. It can be incredibly refreshing to turn your attention towards a project that deals with one character and one setting. It’s like stepping out of a crowded hall and into an empty room with open windows. There’s fresh air and you can finally breathe.
Turning over to a flash fiction piece (even if you’re having writer’s block on a flash fiction piece) can be a less time committed way to exercise your writing and give your thoughts a chance to spread out. When I use flash fiction this way, I normally write whatever comes to me. I don’t try to create anything complex or even entertaining. I’ll pick a particular setting, drop a random character into it, and see what happens. Sometimes, the piece ends up being awful, but I can keep revising until I get better ideas. Those ideas can spark my motivation and before long, I’ll be ready to dive back into the story I’m avoiding.
It may also help to use a character from your main story on and work solely on developing their personality or drive through flash fiction. Only need to expand the setting?Use it as a backdrop for this piece to better understand the layout. Eventually the ideas will come and you’ll be able to continue working with a clear mind.
No matter what, you’re being productive and not banging your head against the keyboard.