In our last post I introduced the idea where standard troubleshooting methodology can be used by writers to improve their writing. The first two steps in the process are:

STEP 1: Identify the problem – Ask probing question to figure out why it may have never worked or what changed that stopped it from working

STEP 2: Establish a theory of probable cause – Question the obvious culprits to the issue and decide which culprit is most likely causing the issue.

Let’s take writer’s block as an example scenario.

Step 1: Ask some probing questions.

  • When did I first start experiencing writer’s block?
  • If not a specific start date for writer’s block, does it only happen when I’m working on a specific project?
  • Do I find I have writer’s block in a specific writing location (if I write in different places) or during a specific time of day?
  • Is my situation “simply”, I sit down to write an nothing comes out?
  • I have several projects, what causes me to freeze when working on any single one of them?
  • I’ve been doing discovery writing and have hit a wall in my plot. How do I move my story forward?
  • I have an outline, but it just isn’t “working for me” when I get to this one section, why is that?
  • About a hundred pages back I think something went wrong with my story, now I’ve written myself into a corner. Now I’m stuck.
  • Why is the idea in my head sounding dumb and the characters boring now that I’m trying to write it?
  • I thought I had lot of ideas. Why can’t I think of any of them when I sit down to write?

Step 2: The obvious culprits (based on your answers to the questions in step 1)

  • I changed <fill in the blank> on xx/xx/xxxx date, which is causing my writer’s block.
  • Section xxxx in my project is holding me up.
  • I get writer’s block whenever I write in the afternoon and/or when I write at the coffee shop.
  • When I pick a project, my thoughts are on my other projects and I stop writing.
  • The plot wall I’ve hit is the cause of my writer’s block.
  • I need to fix my outline so it starts “working for me.
  • I’ve written myself into a corner and need to figure out how to write myself out.
  • How do I vet out my ideas so they don’t sound dumb or my characters boring.
  • I need to generate ideas. . .that are more than only ideas, but something I can actually write about.

Some of this may seem “common” or “too” basic. But keep asking yourself questions. Developing the skill of self-analysis through troubleshooting methodologies can possibly help. . .if you’re honest with yourself.

Hopefully this was helpful in asking yourself some questions to start uncovering what may be hindering your writing from being more than it is today.

In our next post we’ll take this sample scenario and look at steps 3, 4 and 5.

Keep on writing. . .better.