I met Kia through Sisters in Crime, and am thrilled that she recently joined the board. She is a prolific writer of romantic suspense, and it joining us today to talk a bit about process and getting stuck.
The Dreaded Writer’s Block
by K.D. Richards
I’m currently working on the eleventh (!) book in my West Investigations series. Every single book has been different and a learning experience. However, writing this installment has been different in a lot of ways than writing the other books in the series. For one, I attempted to pants it -write it without first drafting the comprehensive outline I normally do before I sit down to write.
Maybe this is why I’ve struggled a getting the words to come with this book. I’m presently stalled at about 45,000 words of a book that needs to be between 55,000 and 60,000 but my brain is refusing to cooperate, instead demanding that I scroll through my Threads feed instead of writing! I even have the perfect happily-ever-after ending but how do I get my characters there? Okay, so here are some strategies I’ve been using with varying success.
Take a break. OK, I know I just said I’m scrolling social media instead of writing but sometimes your body and brain just need a rest. You might find it helpful to put your current work in progress aside and start something new (or return to the last thing you set aside). Or you may need to take some time off from writing altogether. Take a weekend – longer if need be. Get outside, stream a movie, call a friend just to chat (I’m talking to you, my fellow introverts). Give your characters time to figure out what they want to do next and they just might come back to you raring to go.
I am not good at relaxing but I decided to take a weekend off and do nothing but chill! No stressing over deadlines, no outlining, no editing or revision. R-E-L-A-X. I’ll be honest, it was difficult for me to not write or even thing about writing for two days, but, by the end of the weekend I could feel that my body and brain were more rested.
Read. If you are like me your TBR pile is ever growing. When I get really involved in a new writing project a lot of other things fall to the wayside, including reading. You can choose to read something that is similar to what you are writing, analyzing it to see how the author achieved the elements you are struggling with. I’ve found that reading for pleasure is the best way to move my own writing out of the mushy middle.
I took a bit of a different route this time. A writer friend suggested watching movies as the trick he uses when he gets stuck. I’m not generally a television or movie person but I gave it a try this time and spent the weekend watching Gone Girl (I may the last person on Earth to see this movie) and Spiderman Into the Spider-verse for the eleven thousandth time (kid’s choice although it remains an awesome movie). No brilliant plot ideas sprung to mind for me, but I did enjoy the movies and family time.
Skip around. You can’t see the next scene clearly but you know how your protagonist is going to discover the killer, so write that scene. Who said your manuscript has to be written in a certain order? Write the scenes you can see clearly in your mind’s eye and come back to the scenes that are more elusive.
As I mentioned earlier, I knew exactly how I wanted this book to end so my plan once the weekend ended was to get started writing it. I really loved the ending I had planned for the characters. Because I’d given my brain a break, I was able to bring all the enthusiasm I felt for these characters the page and I think the scene turned out awesome. That enthusiasm also triggered the creative side of my mind to figure out how to get them from where they are now to the end of their journey. Yay!
Writers, what do you do when you get stuck in your writing? Readers, how do you handle being stuck on a project? Drop a comment and let me know.
About the Author
Bio Daphne du Maurier Award finalist, K.D. Richards writes pulse pounding romantic suspense and thrillers. K.D. was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs just outside of Washington, D.C. A writer since a young age, after college she earned a law degree and worked as an attorney and legal instructor for fifteen years but never stopped writing fiction. She currently lives in Toronto with her husband and two sons. www.kdrichardsbooks.com
About Her Books
She’s kept her secret for years…
But now a killer knows. Journalist Simone Jarrett and Carling Lake sheriff Lance Webb have kept their casual affair clandestine to avoid gossip. But as his feelings for Simone deepen, Lance is troubled by the knowledge that she’s hiding something. Then, after twenty years, the Card Killer strikes again. And Simone’s secret puts her in the killer’s sights. Now the two must team up to find the murderer…and save Simone’s life.
From Harlequin Intrigue: Seek thrills. Solve crimes. Justice served. Discover more action-packed stories in the West Investigations series.
All books are stand-alone with uplifting endings but were published in the following order:
Book 1: Pursuit of the Truth
Book 2: Missing at Christmas
Book 3: Christmas Data Breach
Book 4: Shielding Her Son
Book 5: Dark Water Disappearance
Book 6: Catching the Carling Lake Killer
Book 7: Under the Cover of Darkness (releases in December, available for pre-order)