Tag Archives: writer’s block

Six Places To Take Your Characters to Get to Know Them Better– A Guest Post from Wendy P. Miller


I laugh in the face of writer’s block. Why? Because I’ve got back up. I tuck away ammo for days when the doldrums sneak in and try to steal my creativity. As a novelist, I consider it a great treasure hunt, a psychological expedition trying to get to know my characters better.

Today I’m providing a fresh way to understand more about the main characters you’re creating.

Oh the places we’ll go…

A Festival

The swirling lights, towering sticks of cotton candy, and overpriced games…a festival is a great venue to watch and learn.

Does she lurk on the edges or do you see her in the center of every crowd? Is she quick to race to the Ferris wheel or does she avoid heights at all costs? Did she once get so sick on a drumstick she’ll never try her luck again? What did she show up wearing? A pastel cardigan and loafers or steel toed boots and a plunging V-neck?

The Mall

One of our pastors once said you know where your loyalties lie when you review your checkbook. What better place (albeit chaotic, overpriced, and not my favorite of all places) to bring your character to observe her behavior.

Does she head straight for Barnes & Noble? Or is she buying more sugar-coated pretzels than she can carry? Does she tire quickly and call it a day after an hour or is she browsing every single storefront? How fast does she walk? Does she make conversation with anyone or is shopping all business with her? Does she have the money to buy what’s she’s ogling?

A Sporting Event

This is where my husband would love to zap me into a character so I’d go with him to a sporting event. That aside, what fun to see how your character would react to the wave, the break-your-budget cost of food, the jeering and cheering crowds.

Does she wear layers or is she freezing the whole time? Does she avoid going to the bathroom at all costs? How rowdy does she get? Does she meld with the crowd or stand out like an oversized thumb (guess she wouldn’t stick out much at all with those awkward fan thumbs wielding around in the wind)? Who does she root for or does she discreetly pull a book out of her purse?

The Library

Ah, my haven. Enough about me…what does she do?

Does she dart in and out within a matter of seconds? Does story time catch her eye? Is she able to carry all of her books out without tripping? What kinds of books has she checked out? Does she ask anyone’s opinion about a specific book? Does she use the library system to look anything up or browse randomly?

An Elementary School Field Trip

Yah hoo…a field trip.

It almost doesn’t matter where she goes. What’s more important is how she interacts with the children. Is she constantly rolling her eyes or is she laughing and giving high fives as they learn new things? Did she preplan and bring wipes for sticky hands? Does she take notes? Is she sad because of something she remembers about her own childhood? Where does she sit on the bus?


Pretty sure I don’t need to expound upon this one much.

Her actions will scream at you if you choose to bring her here. Tears, non-stop fidgeting, swaying to the worship music, going over her bills, head bent in reverent prayer? Watch closely. See her. Let her show you who she is.

Have you ever been inspired to come up with unconventional ways of getting to know your characters better? Which one of the above has the potential to reveal the most about a character you’ve created?


 Bio: Wendy lives in New England with her husband, their three young girls, and a skunk-dodging Samoyed. She feels most alive when she’s spending time with loved ones, speeding on a boat, reading, writing, refurbishing furniture or taking risks. Her work has been published in Christian Fiction Online and in numerous anthologies, including Love is a Flame published by Bethany House. She graduated with a BA in English from Wittenberg University, where she earned an Honor of Distinction for her accrued knowledge of literature. Visit http://thoughtsthatmove.blogspot.com/ to learn more about Wendy. Or check out her Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Writer-Wendy-Paine-Miller/232985413400039 and Twitter https://twitter.com/wendypmiller pages.


Filed under Writing

Jenny from the Block

Okay, sorry about the title of this post, but I just had to do it. 🙂

Writer’s block.  Those moments, hours, and days that sometimes stretch on for months.  
It seems like the creative juices have just stopped flowing; sometimes suddenly.  
It seems like the love for the characters that you once yearned to spend time with has all but died out.
It seems like it’s impossible to think of one more story, one more plot, one more objective or twist, or even one more line of dialog.
It seems like the passion has gone.  And when the passion dies, the words die.  
But what caused this sudden, frustrating bout of the mind versus the written word?
Writer’s block is not just sitting at the computer, staring at a blinking cursor on a blank page.  It’s an attitude.
Most of the time, writer’s block is caused by self-doubt.  It creeps in and takes over, pushing away all that we’ve created, all that we are passionate about, and instead breeds discouragement, anger, resentment, and the inability to take pride in our work.
The plot isn’t good enough.  The characters aren’t identifiable enough.  The objective isn’t clear.  The dialog is flat.  I just can’t think of anything else.  I don’t know how to make it work.  I’m not good enough.
But self-doubt can be beaten.  Self-doubt can be overcome.  Self-doubt can be destroyed.
In order to let go of the self-doubt, you have to:
Stop comparing yourself to others.  
Remember that you are an individual, created for a whole, defining, other-worldly purpose by the Creator who values everything that you do.  
Remember why you started.  
What sparked the passion in you?  Get back to it.  Remember the excitement you had when you first started, remember the reasons, grab hold of them, and let them release you from discouragement.
Get excited about something else.
Not loving what you are working on?  Start something new, work on it for a while, and come back to your first project at a later time.  Letting it sit will allow you to have a fresh attitude when you look at it later.
Release the pressure.  
Aim for completing a novel, not the novel.  If you happen to realize afterward that you’ve created the next great classic, good for you.  But don’t set that as your goal in the beginning.
Get inspired.  
Watch your favorite movie.  Read your favorite book.  Listen to your favorite song.  What is it about these pieces of art that speaks to you?  What is it that stimulates and motivates you?  Find it, use it.
Take a break.
If you’ve been working excessively, you need one.  Minds, like bodies, get tired and need to rest.  Chocolate always helps.
Get busy.
On the other hand, if you’ve been avoiding your project, get in there and get busy.  As many will say, writing horrible, awful sentences is still writing.  Get something on the page and worry about perfecting it later.
Be your own cheerleader.
Read something that you’ve written that you really, really love.  It might be a completed work, or it might be a paragraph, or just one, amazingly perfect sentence.  Whatever it is, read it and revel in the reality that you created it.  Give yourself a pat on the back.
Writer’s block is not a lack of words; it’s a lack of self-confidence to write the words.  To overcome it, you have to let go of your own purposes and see God’s purposes revealed in you.  When you overcome the self-doubt and realize that you are a child of God, anything is possible.
 *While this post is about writing, it can be applied to any creative format, really.
Share with me:  How do you fight self-doubt in your life?  Have you ever had writer’s block, or just “creative block?” How did you get rid of it?


Filed under Writing