Dealing With Roadblocks

Do you know where you’re going? Most of us have a destination in mind when we start on a journey. If the route isn’t entirely clear we may check Google Maps or program our GPS because we like the security of knowing how we’ll get there. What do we do once we’re under way and an unexpected roadblock crops up? On well-travelled roads our GPS may suggest an alternate route, but that’s not always an option.

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This summer, many miles from a public road, we worked our way towards our northern cabin. We always travel well prepared with chainsaw and shovel for such things as fallen trees and mud holes. But around a curve we encountered an obstacle that left us stymied.

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Now what? In this remote location there was no one to offer assistance. Our best friend was our Dodge 4×4 dually. We backtracked and came at our cabin from a different direction, an eight kilometer adventure.

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We found a solution, but if, as I’m sure you’ve caught on, this were an allegory for writing, and the insurmountable obstruction happened in the middle of your story, how would you deal with it?

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When your characters suddenly carry you to an unexpected dead end do you abandon the story, start over again, or do you use a little ingenuity and take the opportunity to embark on an adventure?

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14 thoughts on “Dealing With Roadblocks

  1. Usually if my characters drive me toward a dead end I go back to my outline and look at where I stepped off the path. Sometimes I don’t want to go back to the original outline but it helps me to think about the changes I made and where the story is now going. This usually leads to presenting a new solution, even if I have to back track a little bit to make it work.
    An interesting question and I think that obstacle would leave most us stymied.

  2. iapetus999 says:

    Damn, I was hoping for a Dukes of Hazzard moment with that bridge.
    I like running my characters into corners. Shove them down dead ends. It always surprises me what they come up with to get out of it.

    • I’m afraid that’s not a road on which we could get up enough speed to try a ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ maneuver. 🙂 Isn’t is amazing what our minds can concoct when we give characters free rein?

  3. Laura Best says:

    Good question, Carol. I keep pushing onward because real life is like that. We don’t get to back out because we don’t like the path we’ve chosen. And as with real life situations, when we finally come to the conclusion, we often find we were on the right path after all we just didn’t like all the little bumps in the road.

  4. Jody Hedlund says:

    Wow!! That definitely was a road block, Carol!! I love the way you’ve applied that to our stories. Sometimes we do run into blocks! But we need to keep persevering and have an adventuresome attitude!

  5. Joanne says:

    Like Jody says, I keep persevering with my character. When that roadblock comes up, I often look at very different angles, ones I wouldn’t have thought of without the block, to continue. So the roadblock often serves as inspiration to develop the character even deeper.

  6. joylene says:

    Generally, I write the basic foundation of my story in my head first. Write is probably the wrong word. I see the story play out like a movie. If I can watch enough footage to know I have a good begin, I start the book. When I hit a roadblock or my character does something I hadn’t expected, I stop typing and go back to the movie in my head. I’ll even grab a cup of tea, sit in my favourite chair, close my eyes and watch the movie from the beginning again. I keep doing that until I can see the next few scenes. It seems to work. It also calms me down to sit quietly like that.

    • You’re the only person I’ve ever heard mention thinking through the story like that. When I was working I used to do the same thing when pulling together all the necessary material for an out-of-town dog show. Instead of worrying that I’d forget something I would mentally visualize the first day right from the moment of getting to the site to set up. I’d “see” myself doing everything and could check things off the list as I went along. It worked every time. I’ve never thought of applying the same principle to my writing. 😀

  7. Joseph says:

    I like this Carol.

    Now I cannot speak from the writing aspect but this also rings very true in our lives.

    Far to often, we run across a roadblock and instead of finding another way, we abandon our character and give up.

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