I haven’t had writer’s block in years.
Oh, I used to. I’d agonize over getting scenes just perfect. I’d be halfway through a chapter and BLAM: stuck for a month.
I’d pull out my hair and gnash my teeth, swear, drink, stomp my feet, punch my couch. Nothing helped.
“Why won’t you rotten little bastards cooperate?” I’d shout at my characters as the weeks dragged on.
Then one day, out of the blue, I’d have a breakthrough and surge ahead. Problem solved. Yay!
Until the next block hit.
Sound familiar? Do you dread writer’s block? Are you stuck in one right now? Do you feel like you’ve got no control over when this terror will hit you and ruin your momentum? Maybe even leave your story permanently dead in the water, forcing you to abandon a series you love?
I’ve coached authors through writer’s block time and again. It’s almost always caused by the same problem: looking at the wrong character.
Bear in mind that your main character (MC) is reactive for the first 75% of your story. They don’t become active until the final act. The active character for the first 2 acts is the main antagonist. Other proxy antagonists may act as part of that main antagonist’s action, but it all flows back the main antagonist setting the entire tone and deciding all of the action.
Many writers struggle with writer’s block as they strain to figure out what their MC would do and come up blank.
If you’re struggling to figure out how a scene should progress, stop looking at your hero. Ask yourself how your antagonist or proxy antagonist would act in the scenario to further their goals. Then set your MC to reacting to that antagonistic action.
This requires your antagonist to have specific goals in mind which drive the story. That’s really a necessity for any novel, because your antagonist kicks off the inciting event and drives the entire plot through the first two acts. This is why I advise my coaching students to design the antagonist first, before the main character, give their antagonist a huge personal goal, and only then design their main character with a smaller personal goal in direct opposition to the antagonist’s.
Your antagonists are easier to write for because you make them act like jerks. It’s fun to write their scenes. Too many people strain themselves trying to figure out how to make their MC look moral and heroic by acting. You don’t. The MC looks moral and heroic by reacting to the antagonist based on the MC’s personal principles. That’s how you show your audience that your main character has personal principles. And that’s how you pound out a fun scene.
This solves writer’s block darn near every time.
For more tips like this one, check out my proven writing system Write Like A Beast that helped me retire from corporate life to write for a living.