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Destroy Writer's Block Once and For All

Updated on September 30, 2013

Do You Know Yours?

This is the end. Beautiful friend.
This is the end. Beautiful friend.

The End

Take a walk. Listen to some music. De-clutter. Remove distraction. These are all invaluable suggestions that prod the unconscious mind and foster a productive writing environment - but, do any of these activities really "cure" writer's block?

One of the most important lessons I learned in film school (and it resonates just as strongly today) is perhaps one of the most simple lessons of all: know your ending.

Before I sit down to write a single word, I know exactly who my main character is and how his/her story will end. With my conclusion already established, the actions and interactions of my characters are all united with one clearly defined purpose, to reach that end.

With this important piece of the puzzle already in place, the dizzying endlessness of possibilities is diminished and our minds are able to clearly focus.

We will all struggle with dialogue and details from time to time, but as long as we have a destination for our characters and their story, these struggles will prove to be little more than fleeting hiccups on the road to completion.

Let's Exercise

I absolutely love films with ensemble casts of tight-knit career criminals, such as Heat and The Town, so let's take a walk down that road together and see what we can come up with.

First, we'll need a main character - let's call him Samson. Sam is a young man, not yet thirty-years old. He's had a tough life, and his career path clearly reflects that. He steals whatever wants, whenever he wants - and he's damn good at it.

Together with his childhood friend Eddy, and a pair of twin brothers named Tomás and Efraín, Sam has managed to create a highly successful crew of professional thieves.

Now that we have a main character and supporting cast, we can skip directly to the end of the film and decide how we want it to end. Will Samson get caught, or maybe even killed? Will he evade The Law and escape to an exotic location where he can enjoy the fruits of his labor? Will his crew join him in paradise, or will they be caught and killed along the way?

Samson has had it rough his whole life, despite being a goodly man. He loathes violence and goes out of his way to make sure no one is injured during his robberies, so I want him to evade the authorities and escape with some of the loot.

His crew, however, will not be as lucky. Unfortunately, Eddy has been coerced by the authorities into giving up his crew in exchange for medical care for his sickly wife and child, which leads to Tomás and Efraín dying in a hail of bullets during their final heist. As the police close in on Sam and his crew, Eddy confesses his transgression just in time for Sam to escape.

We've created the main characters and decided on an ending, so all that's left to do is fill in the blanks. Now that the story has some structure, it will all but write itself... I guarantee.

Good luck, and happy writing!

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    • profile image

      Hawk 2 years ago

      Pleasing you should think of sohmietng like that

    • jtrader profile image

      jtrader 3 years ago

      I get writer's block when I'm tired, worn out, exhausted. In that case, rest works best of all.

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image
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      Joshua Patrick 3 years ago from Texas

      tirelesstraveler - That's a great point about speech writing. You've got to land your plane, so to speak, to avoid a crash landing. I will keep that in mind if I am ever unfortunate enough to have to speak in public (I try to avoid that sort of thing at all costs).

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image
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      Joshua Patrick 3 years ago from Texas

      mpropp - Absolutely, and that's one of the great things about writing, especially when collaborating with others. Watching your story become something better than you originally imagined is one of the key reasons people continue to write and work with others.

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image
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      Joshua Patrick 3 years ago from Texas

      RunningDeer - If it's possible, try to find out "why" it needs changing. Once you know what's wrong with it, assuming this is clearly communicated, you should be able to take that info and craft an ending that addresses those issues.

      And don't forget, the answers you will get are only as good as the questions you ask.

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 3 years ago from California

      Is it Dale Carnegie who says alway have an ending before you get up to make a speech? You have shown a simple, but vital component to writing and speaking. You always know a novice speaker by their ending or lack thereof. Applying it to writing hadn't occurred to me, though I frequently write the end first. Very nice work.

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 3 years ago from Minnesota

      Do you ever find that once you start writing the story, even though you already have the ending in mind, it starts to change and move away from what you originally had planned? Almost like the characters took over and decided to change the ending? Great hub, by the way!

    • RunningDeer profile image

      RunningDeer 3 years ago from Iowa

      Help! I'm writing my thesis for creative writing, so it's a collaboration of some of my stories. I have received comments from my thesis committee head, and all the stories checked out except for the very last one. He wants me to scrap the entire ending. I don't know how to change it now. I knew that was how I wanted to end it from the very beginning, and now I need to change it. Writer's block has set in, but I need to get my thesis revised and onto the next two committee members. Any advice?

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      You have good suggestions here. I guess there's no reason this formula wouldn't work just as well with non-fiction as with fiction.

      I don't get writer's block, I get lazy. There are a million things I can write about and I have lists of them. I even have research done for some of them, but then I just can't get to the writing part. Some are a third or a half finished, but then I lose interest. It isn't always like that, but sometimes it is. Sometimes I can sit down and write an article almost entirely in one sitting, but other times it drags over weeks or months.

      This is a very good formula for writing fiction, short stories or novels. Hope everyone takes the time to read it and learn . .

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image
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      Joshua Patrick 3 years ago from Texas

      Heather Says - You are absolutely right, this method will definitely help with continuity issues. It is much easier to create a cohesive journey when we know where that journey ends.

      Oddly enough, I get the feeling that a lot of professional writers don't do this, especially concerning TV shows. I think more shows would be successful if they laid out some semblance of a direction for that ending (even if it never comes, it must still be planned for).

    • Heather Says profile image

      Heather Rode 3 years ago from Buckeye, Arizona

      Very well written. I had to come check this out after you mentioned it. Your advice lays the foundation and makes filling in the blanks seem pretty easy. I also feel like this is a good way to avoid continuity issues but I could also just be imagining that. Great hub :)

    • mpropp profile image

      Melissa Propp 5 years ago from Minnesota

      I really enjoyed your hub. Its such simple advice, but so absolutely true...I have started writing many novels but never finished any of them. I'm sure there is more than one reason for not completing them, but I don't know the ending of any of them! I will definitely try your approach and have the ending in mind next time.

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image
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      Joshua Patrick 5 years ago from Texas

      cora, prepare to be amazed! Once you know your destination, the course will almost plot itself - good luck with your novel, and thanks for commenting! I will go read that first chapter right now!

    • profile image

      corascollection 5 years ago

      I've been working on a novel, I have gotten to chapter 6 and I have just not been able to work on it as intently as I would have liked to this summer. Now I am going to take your advice and create an ending before I go any further with my chapters, maybe that will get me to where I want to be! I have chapter one posted on my hubpage, it is by far the shortest chapter so far but I have built off of it well enough. :)

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image
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      Joshua Patrick 5 years ago from Texas

      tirelesstraveler - You've got it! Once I learned that simple piece of advice, the difficulty of writing all but disappeared - thanks for commenting!

    • tirelesstraveler profile image

      Judy Specht 5 years ago from California

      Planning the end is the best advice that a film producer, writer or speaker can follow. If the end is in place, you know when you get there instead of wandering endlessly until everyone goes to sleep or you give up in frustration. Nice work.

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image
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      Joshua Patrick 5 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for stopping by, cora - so glad you enjoyed it!

    • profile image

      corascollection 5 years ago

      Great advice and great read. Thanks :)

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image
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      Joshua Patrick 5 years ago from Texas

      Thanks naimishika, glad you enjoyed it!

    • naimishika profile image

      Venugopaal 5 years ago from India

      I felt writers block several times.. great hub.. thanks

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image
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      Joshua Patrick 5 years ago from Texas

      @cclitgirl - That was one of the first things I thought about after I wrote this - how can it apply to people writing non-fiction?

      The best advice I can give is, instead of knowing your ending, know where you're going with your project and know what you want the reader to take away from your piece, then structure your writing as such.

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image
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      Joshua Patrick 5 years ago from Texas

      @barbergirl28 - So happy to hear it, and good luck with your book! Isn't it amazing how something as simple as knowing your ending makes writing that much easier?

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Sageleaf 5 years ago from Western NC

      How triumphant! That's awesome...now, the trick is to figure out how to adapt this to non-fiction writing, LOL. Thanks for sharing this, though, because I think a lot of people here on HP and beyond experience this kind of writer's block. Voted up.

    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      It is funny that you say this. I started writing a book a long long time ago... I think it is going on 4 years. However, I keep going back and editing because I change something and it messes with the entire thing. So, I had 20 chapters and currently I am back down to like 4 because of this whole process. But, to make a long story short, what I was missing was knowing how it ended. I could never write the story because I always believed the characters would make the ending come to me. It never did. Well guess what, I finally figured out the ending. I can't wait to get back into it and finally finish! Kudos and great information.

      By the way - welcome to hubpages! Hope you have fun here!

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

      Excellent advice for those suffering from writer's block....luckily my hubs/writing are all about movies....and that subject has 1000s of ideas....my only problem is getting the motivation to write new hubs....but I think I can follow your advice to help me get back on the HubPage wagon....voted up and useful.

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image
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      Joshua Patrick 5 years ago from Texas

      Thanks lindacee - I was hoping my article would still be helpful for people who do not write plot-based projects!

    • lindacee profile image

      lindacee 5 years ago from Arizona

      Wonderful suggestions to conquer writer's block. It happens to all of us at one time or another. Even though my writing is not plot-based, your Hub has great advice for writers of any style! Thanks for sharing! Voted up, useful and interesting.

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image
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      Joshua Patrick 5 years ago from Texas

      @CloudExplorer & Lady_E - Thanks for the kind words. So glad you enjoyed it!

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 5 years ago from London, UK

      Useful and very inspiring. Thanks.

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 5 years ago from New York City

      Nice story creation to help folks escape writers block, its filled with action, and suspense, and beginning, and smooth climax ending I loved reading your mini-action film lol.

      Voted up and out, and welcome to hubville, where great writers flourish and write like mad men and happy women hehe!

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image
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      Joshua Patrick 5 years ago from Texas

      I will definitely be adding more hubs as I find the time and inspiration!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Thanks for this helpful look at writer's block. Putting the priority first is a great idea. Your writing style is very easy to follow and understandable. We need to see more!

    • Clayton Fernandes profile image

      Clayton 5 years ago from Dubai, United Arab Emirates

      I myself am an audio engineer and have much respect for innovative people such as yourself! i wish you all the best. I really like this hub, its taught me more into the world you live in! very awesome!! voted up!

    • GoForTheJuggler profile image
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      Joshua Patrick 5 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for your feedback. Since this is my first hub I decided to keep it short and sweet, but I will definitely elaborate on this topic some more in the near future.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 5 years ago from the short journey

      This is a short hub but it has a very good point. You might like to tell us more about it.