Cue the collective groans. Writer’s block can be horrible, and I’ve been fighting it all year. So, this week’s blog is going to be straightforward with some down-and-dirty tips on how to get past it. To be exact: 5 Tips for Fighting Writer’s Block.
It’s a familiar scene. You’re staring at the screen, an empty page just existing in front of you. Try as you may, no magical words come to mind. Fantastic story ideas are buried somewhere in an undisclosed location. What do you do now? I’ve had some of the worst writer’s block this year. Let me tell you: I’ve tried A BUNCH of approaches to figure out how to get around this awful thing. Here are the methods that work for me, even as I’m still working on alleviating this problem.
1- Take a breath
The enemy of progress is frustration, not difficulty. They’re slightly different, you see. Whereas a challenge can help us be creative, frustration tends to shut down our imagination. So don’t stay there. My first and primary tip for fighting writer’s block is to pause and walk. If you can, go outside for a bit. If that’s not an option, then walk around your living space. Practice breathing techniques and even just sit in the sunlight. These are all ways to engage your physical needs bring yourself to a calmer mental space.
2- Change writing mediums
This is an old trick, but one that I find useful. Do you normally write on your laptop? Try on your phone. Or write it out longhand (*gasp* people still do that?!). Or even make a tune for your plot points and sing them out. What? You don’t do that? Oh, ok then. Moving on… It actually doesn’t matter if it’s a standard method or you’re getting creative with things like smoke signals or writing in dirt. The point is to engage your mind in a slightly different way to refresh your approach to a task. Personally, I alternate between typing, writing long-hand, or jotting notes on my phone while I’m out and about. I’ve even done voice-to-text writing just to get out some thoughts.
3- The Prompt Jar
Friends, this one is the sweet spot for me. Simply get a jar, write out prompts/ideas on small pieces of paper, fold and place them in the jar, then shake and draw at random. This has been great for me and is showing the best results so far. I knew that prompts usually get my creative juices flowing, so why not give this a go? It works. So well. And if you try it, do tell me how it goes. I designed some of the prompts with my husband and a close friend, which was great for helping me see my blind spots. The Prompt Jar is your latest and greatest weapon in fighting writer’s block.
4- Ask the hard questions
I know you don’t want to talk about this, but I’m putting it on the table anyway. Now, in fact, may not be the time for this particular story. Asking if this is the right moment hurts. Let’s admit it together, we wouldn’t be working on this idea if we didn’t believe now is the time. However, it’s simply that we start a story too early. That even when we think this is the only moment to write the thing, the answer is different. I recently had to admit this sad truth about a project I’ve been working on for almost three years. And it was difficult. But, now that I’m on the right project, this move feels appropriate. The novel in progress is what I need to write, though it didn’t present itself in my imagination until fairly recently.
5- Non-judgemental Writing
I recently learned that “underwriting” is a whole thing in the author world. Put simply, you spit out the bare bones of the story then go back and fill in. This is what I’ve been doing recently, and it’s working well. Hooray! Ok, new term. That’s nice. But here’s the thing. More than that, I want you all to focus your thoughts on not judging your process. Put simply: dude, write the thing, then go back and freak out over details. That last bit is called editing. Or write wayyyy too much detail and come back later with scissors to make it pretty. It’s up to you. In my attempt to be funny, I want you to know that I’m right alongside you. Been there, done that, ate that bag of chips.
Friend, we got this. You got this. Writing is an amazing and thrilling act, but it doesn’t come without some hold ups. And true to what the ancients’ experiences, we’ll all end up with the dreaded writer’s block at some point. The key here is to keep trying and to keep writing. You’ll push past it eventually. It doesn’t last forever. But your writing might.
In Courage & Care,