British writer Mo Fanning on coping with the onset of writer's block
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Writer’s Block

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Writer's Block - Mo FanningWriter’s block. Everyone I know who writes – or tries to write – hits it some time. You sit down ready to spew a whole load of graceful prose at the page and nothing comes. Or worse, something comes but what you write is pure and unadulterated rubbish.

The dialogue is clunky. The situations silly. You know in your heart that these are pages you will one day cast away. But you’re a writer so you have to keep going.

One bit of absolutely valuable advice I once received was to get to know my characters. This particular (published many times) writer pointed out that the main reason for things grinding to a halt is because you don’t know your characters well enough. If you did, you’d be able to write them, no matter what.

Experiment to beat writer’s block

She told me to experiment. On days when the story isn’t coming write extra scenes. Stuff that won’t make the final mix. Take two of your characters who don’t get on and put them in a pub, on a bus with two remaining empty seats, in an airport lounge with a 24-hour flight delay and nobody else around who speaks English.

What she was saying was write something. Anything.

After months of not writing very much at all, I’ve started to force myself to sit down every day and write something. Anything. At least 350 words a day. And thanks to those fabulous chums at The BookShed, I have a forum where those of us committed to the 350-words-a-day routine post our word counts.

The Karma Chameleon has been reborn. Rewritten and of the 90,000 words in the first draft, I’d say less than 1000 survive. New characters have sprung up, others have been culled and the plot simplified. So far so good. But I can’t help thinking the main reason I’m able to write this is that I know the characters. That’s what matters above all else.

By Mo Fanning

Mo Fanning is a British author of dark romantic comedies including the Book of the Year nominated bestseller 'The Armchair Bride', 'Rebuilding Alexandra Small' and 2022's hit holiday romcom 'Ghosted'.

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