This post comes to you by popular demand... I asked you a while ago what writerly topics you'd like to hear me rant on, and this one was by far your favourite! Enjoy!
Now, I've giving this a great deal of thought, so there will be two posts on getting past roadblocks. The first one applies to you...
When Travelling with GPS
If you are a plotter, then this is for you. Those of you who go by the seat of their pants, tune in next Thurday (March 10th) for Part 2 of YES you CAN get past that stupid roadblock (without GPS).
Imagine it's a nice, sunny day outside, and you plan to take your shiny new convertible out for a ride. You have a definite plan of where you want to go - in fact, you've plotted out the entire trip. The fresh air teases your hair, you smile as your favourite song plays on the radio.
Just goes to show that life doesn't like it if we make too definite a plan. Your path is blocked, and the obstacle seems insurmountable. Your hands grip the steering wheel until your knuckles turn white.
Now what? Your perfect plan lies in ruins, the path you have chosen might aswell no longer exist.
Don't despair! You dig out your phone and give me a ring.
"What what?" I ask. "You're stuck?"
Here's what I suggest you try:
Solution Number 1: Recalculate your route
Is there anywhere where you could take a different turn? Some side action you could build into more? A minor plotline that you need to cut out? Maybe a specific character is getting in your way and you need to re-design that one. Or get rid of him.
The easiest way to do this (I think) is to take your plot, go one step back from the 'roadblock', and try to figure out a different turn from there. If that doesn't work, take one more step back and so on. When this happens to me it's usually because I've missed a point in character developement or developed them in the wrong direction.
Solution Number 2: Teleport
Now here's the great thing about working from a plot (even a not very detailed plot) rather than flying by the seat of your pants. You can do magic - yep magic - and simply TELEPORT over the roadblock to the next plotpoint that strikes your fancy and tickles your muse. Easy peasy. Well, in theory. I'm not really a plotter (most of the time) so this is not an approach that works well for me...
The idea is to get your juices going again without stepping out of the story entirely. By skipping this spot you can carry on writing. You can always come back to it later to fix the problem. Maybe it will fix itself while you write the next chapter/scene/section of your story, you never know!
Solution Number 3: Go drink coffee
OK so this is not an exclusively a plotter roadblock solution. Taking a (short, mind you) break can be useful for getting everything straight in your head, for getting new ideas. Go sit in your favourite coffee shop/tea shop/bakery/park/mall, have something sweet or a sandwich or something, and just listen. Listen and watch everything and everyone around you.
Me, I love listening to people. You get the greatest ideas like that. And snippets of dialogue.
Of course you can also just sit and read a good book (preferably in the genre you're working in), or go see an art exhibition.
Then, once you've rested your mind a little, only then go back to your car and figure out how to solve the roadblock problem.
I hope this can help you! If you're less of a plotter and more of a pantser, or if you need some more advice, tune in for part 2 on this topic (on Thursday, March 10th).