7 Cures for Writer’s Block
One of the most popular topics in the writing world is the annoying phrase and horrifying writing demon, writer’s block. There are people who say it’s not real (I am kind of one of them.) and others who think they never get it. Well, let’s get to the literal bit and look at the definition:
Writer’s Block – the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.
Let’s face it, that happens. It’s not a disease, it’s not a symptom of a disease and, no, your writing career is not over because you ran into a wall and smashed your noggin. Take a breath and step back. Better yet, read this article and find some pointers on how to crawl out of that block that fell over your head and hid you from creativity.
You’re writing. You’re getting things done. 500 words…1000 words…1500 words…wait. No…you knew what you wanted to write. You had it. You were…and…
Option one: Stop
When you’re writing, realize that your inspiration doesn’t flow like a waterfall. It’s more like a dam. It will fill when it rains but after the flood stops, the water level will decline. But guess what, it’ll rain again. Just be patient.
Write what you can and when you hit a wall, sometimes all you need to do is take a step back. Let it sit for a day or two and come back. You won’t always be able to write a daily entry or get your word count, and that’s okay. Sometimes your brain needs a break, and you can’t rush creativity or you might break that well-built dam of yours.
Option two: Step away
You need to realize that your brain doesn’t ride one train. If you hit that wall, do something else for a while. Give that part of your head a break. If you have another writing project, try working on that one. If not, do something else or write something else. Write about your day, write your troubles on paper, write about whatever you see to the right of you. Write about three white things in your room. Just write something else.
Another option is to get away from writing completely. Go and knit a scarf. Read a book (sometimes this helps fuel your creative mind, especially if it’s similar to what you’re writing). Sing a song. Dance to music that doesn’t exist. Yell at a wall and kiss a pillow. Take pictures of five things in your backyard and write a story about them together. Laugh until your eyes pee. Do something that will release those endorphins and make you feel nice. Drink a cup of tea, perhaps. Tea is good.
Option three: Figure out what’s not working
Sometimes, the reason you’re at an impasse is because your subconscious is demanding you to do a u-turn one-hundred words ago. Backtrack a little and re-write the scene. See if it comes out differently the second time and try to make it better. Who knows, your subconscious may be right…
Option four: Make it messy. Whee!
Go for it! Write whatever comes to your head and don’t worry about grammar or punctuation or runon sentences or missed hyphenation because you’re writing out your thoughts right now not your final draft and although it pains me to write this without punctuation I know I’m trying to get a point across and I’m stopping right now.
It will take everything in my power not to go back and correct that. Moving on. The point is just write it out. Like venting. Type whatever the heck you can think of and don’t go back to read. If you don’t think hard, sometimes ideas will flow better. Even if you begin with a different scene completely, it may work.
Don’t write for your readers. I’ve said it before. Write for yourself; edit for your readers. Write the story you want to write. Let it flow and form, but refine it when you know what you have. You are creating the story, but you can perfect it (or I can help you perfect it) after you figure out what that idea is. Don’t mistake this as license to write whatever you want and expect your editor (if that editor isn’t me) to decipher what you want. It’s your story, not ours. Write the story you want to write. Straighten out the edges and clean off the debris after you figure it out. That was redundant, but I don’t care.
Option five: Change it up, switch a scene, flip the page
If you are stuck on a scene, drop it. Go to what you want to happen after that scene or what happens in another chapter. You don’t have to write in chronological order. If you want to, write a flashback.
Another option here is to write about your character. Interview them. Act like a crazy person and talk aloud. Draw a stick figure and pretend it’s Jeremy from Chapter Eight. “What are you doing tomorrow, Jeremy?” “Nothing, just stalking Sarah a bit. She still doesn’t think she likes me.” “Well, maybe she doesn’t.” “She does. She just doesn’t know it, yet.” Creepy guy, I know. But that’s Jeremy and we just had a conversation. I have no clue who he is. I just made him up, but I now know I don’t want him in my writing. Weirdo. Anyway, talk to yourself (your characters). Get to know them a bit.
Option six: Watch a movie, read a book, ask a friend or foe
One motivational tool I love is the visual thing called a movie. I love movies, especially movies in the same genre as my novel. I don’t know how, but I get ridiculously inspired when I watch movies like that, and I get the writing itch before I make it halfway through.
I mentioned reading a book, but I can’t stress how useful this medium is. You can learn so much by reading, whether fiction, a biography, or the newspaper still sitting in your yard. Pick it up. Reading other peoples’ writing not only benefits your creative mind, but it benefits your writing. You learn things you never thought you’d learn, and sometimes you don’t know you’re learning it, but it does show up in your writing. I’m serious. Reading is healthy. Do it.
You’re not talking to Jeremy from Chapter Eight. You’re talking to a real person, now. Even if you hate their guts. If you think someone may benefit your story, talk to them. Tell them what’s going on and ask for feedback. What do they think should happen next? What would they like to see? What questions do they have? You can get a lot of feedback and useful information from people. No people? Find some. Get on a Facebook group like, oh I don’t know…Authors’ Tale.
Option seven: Get outta there
Strangely enough, sometimes a venue change is all you need. It won’t take much; maybe, all you need is to go outside. Take a walk, write at a park, or stop writing and walk your dog. Fresh air, a cup of bookstore coffee, or a walk with a friend can be all the inspiration you need.
Hopefully, I provided a tip or two that you haven’t tried yet. If you have other things you do that help you get over writer’s block, please let me know and I’ll gladly share it with everyone else. These are simply things I’ve learned and tried, and I have been blessed, so far, to have been able to make my way through the horrible barrier.
Whether writer’s block actually exists isn’t important. Everyone hits that point in their writing, and it’s okay. Don’t be ashamed or afraid of it because it’s natural. It’s like tripping over your foot. It doesn’t seem like it should be normal; you’ve been walking for years. However, everyone does it. You will too. And guess what? You’ll get through it.
Have an amazing day and as always, let me know your thoughts.
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