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By Bhalachandra Sahaj

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questions to ask yourselfHow often do you get stuck in the middle of writing without knowing which direction to move? How often did you feel like you’ve ran out of ideas, or scientific evidence, or courses for your plot without being close to the end? If this has happened to you rather often, you might be experiencing writer’s block.

Any time you get in a dead end (or when you get lost) in real life, you start to search for a way back. You check your GPS navigator or map (your outlines and drafts), try walking in another direction (developing different storylines), or ask people nearby how to get to the point you need. Today, I want to talk about the latter—specifically, asking questions.

People whom you ask how to get to a certain road will give you dozens of explanations and descriptions, but only few of them you will be clear in their descriptions. Most likely, there will be answers containing exact and direct guidelines on how to get to the destination, and answers that contain numerous descriptions, pieces of advice, tips about shortcuts, and so on.

My point is: why not use this method of pathfinding in writing? The analogy is straightforward. Your writing is your road, and the end of your story (or essay, or whatever else) is the destination point. Writer’s block is a dead end, and getting into one is equal to losing one’s way. So, what do you do if neither GPS nor regular maps help you to find your way? That’s right, you start asking people around.

Since writing is a rather intimate process, it is logical to ask yourself questions. You can answer your own questions no worse than a stranger. Forget for a moment you are working on your own writing, and make guesses. What if John went to the bar instead of staying at home, depressed? What if Miho accepted that date offer from a stranger? What should Mike say or do to make his wife so mad at him? “What if” questions are, in my opinion, among the most important questions in any writing.

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