writers-blockCreative blocks happen to everyone. Whether you write books, create presentations, or formulate business plans, we’ve all been there – completely stuck. Up against a wall with no clue how to continue.

Here are two ways to smash through those barriers. They’ve worked for me – your mileage may vary.

Usually, when I feel writer’s block coming on, I simply get up and go do something else. I walk around the house or step outside for some fresh air. I go to the gym, wash the dishes, or fold some laundry. When I return to the keyboard, I’m usually refreshed enough to plow forward. But something strange happened to me a few months ago.

About 70,000 words into writing my latest book – Wrong Town – I hit a wall that seemed insurmountable. The usual tricks didn’t work and no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t make any progress. So I decided to cool my jets and work on the business side of the project for a while (i.e. cover design, discussions with editor, marketing, etc.) When I returned to the keyboard to continue writing the novel – nothing. I felt creatively bankrupt.

Instead of trying to force it, I jumped to the very end of the book and wrote the conclusion. Then I wrote backwards until I finally bumped up against the part that had originally stumped me. (Note: the final word count of Wrong Town is approximately 112,500.)

Tip #1: Don’t feel obligated to create your presentation, formulate your business plan, or write your book in chronological order. If you get stuck – it’s ok to mix it up and do things in any order you can. Just keep working.

Wrong Town is a thriller with characters from the worlds of special operations, counterintelligence, and police work. The story is fictional but I was committed from the beginning to portraying those subcultures realistically. There were several parts where I got hung up on dialogue or questioned how best to approach a scene.

When I wasn’t feeling warm and fuzzy about something, I picked up the phone and spoke to people who live in those worlds. The conversations ranged from casual background discussions to very specific discussions on tactics, procedures, and how members of those subcultures interact with one another and the world at large.

Screen Shot 2015-11-28 at 6.19.57 AMTip #2: When in doubt – don’t guess – talk to the people who know. The Internet offers seemingly endless research opportunities for just about anything – but nothing beats knowledge gleaned directly from an experienced professional if you can get them to open up. If you’re not a finance guy – call a finance guy instead of trying to fudge your way through sales projections. If you’re not a cop – call a cop before trying to write realistic dialogue on your own.

If you ever get stuck creatively – give these two tips a try and remember to just keep working. Eventually, you’ll smash through and finish the project.

Please feel free to share any tips of your own and good luck.

NOTE: If you pre-order Wrong Town: A Mark Landry Novel before Xmas, your eBook will include lifesaving tips from self-defense expert Rob Pincus. Specifically, you’ll receive 15 Tips for Home Defense and several articles on ambush response and tactical shooting. The FREE Bonus Material is a limited offer for pre-orders only.

Here’s a summary of the novel:

Wrong Town fuses the worlds of special operations, counterintelligence, police work, and small-town drama into a gripping adventure full of characters with monumental responsibilities and real-life troubles.

Follow thirty-nine-year-old veteran Mark Landry as he returns home, having retired from an American government black-ops unit. In a small town north of Boston with a rich history, Landry finds that the only girl he has ever loved, Luci Alvarez, is now an extraordinary policewoman at the precarious center of a community’s struggles with change, amidst a powder keg of fear and paranoia not seen since pre-colonial days. Landry seeks to convince Officer Alvarez that he is home for good as he learns the astonishing answer to a lifelong mystery. Landry is eager to begin his new life, but events threaten to expose disturbing details of his past that would send shockwaves through the country and sabotage the only relationship he cares about.

As terrorist attacks and targeted mass shootings increasingly litter American soil, two new realities come into focus: the war on terrorism’s geographic center of gravity is shifting, and Landry’s new life is beginning to look a lot like the career he left behind.