Writers Block. We’ve all had it at one point in time or another.
When you were given a 5,000 word essay in high school and tasked with researching some inconspicuous boring topic. You spend weeks researching the topic and feel prepared. You know everything you need to about The Life cycle of Meal-worms from what they eat to how they reproduce. Yet, you sit down at your desk, pencil in hand, and… you draw a blank!
How should you open the research paper? Should you start with some witty fact? How about a bit of humor or a not so funny jokes? Or maybe just lay out the facts?
Writing is difficult.
So you spend hours outlining the paper, go through 3 packages if sticky notes and note cards, and still nothing comes to you.
The blank page haunts you as the days tick by and the deadline gets closer. You write and rewrite but it still doesn’t feel right. You try everything you can think of, you look up the correct way to open a research paper, you even go as far as asking friends and family for help but nothing works. You draw a blank.
Congratulations, you have writers block!
If you do a little searching, you will come across hundreds of posts with ideas of how to fight writers block. You’ll find good advice like “read a book” and you will find bad advice like “stand on your head for an hour while humming twinkle twinkle little star”. -Okay, I might have made that one up but you get the idea.
Writers block falls under 3 categories: Lack of Ideas, Lack of Motivation, and Lack of Time.
Once you identify which issue you are having its pretty easy to overcome writers block.
Lack of Ideas
Okay, so lets say you have this amazing idea for a book. You throw together an outline and you write down every detail of the idea as a short description (so that if you forget where you are going with the story you have a quick reminder to help get your brain back to the place it was when you began).
You write out all of the important scenes and start on what I like to call “filler content” (the tedious work in between action scenes that seems to be the hardest thing to write).
But you start to struggle with the story. You don’t know how to make your character get from point A to point B. Who do they talk to? What do they talk about? What important information does the supporting character give to your main character that helps them on their journey?
And then the even more tedious content. What are they wearing? How are they supposed to react to this situation? Facial expressions? Hand gestures? The list goes on and on. All of these simple things that we overlook in our everyday lives are super important when it comes to our stories. Without it, the story is 1 dimensional and is unbelievable to the reader. So you can see, it’s really easy to get stumped during the writing process.
Which as much as your brain has to work just to write a simple scene, it’s easy to wear yourself out. When you spend every waking minute thinking about your story, your characters, and then writing, your brain just sometimes needs a break.
So it will shut itself down which leads to writers block. To overcome this form of writer’s block you need to give your brain the break it needs.
Take a few days off– Letting your brain have a few days off is the best way to beat any block.
Read a good book– I tend to reread some of my favorite books since they were my inspiration for writing in the first place. Don’t worry about whether or not the books you are reading are in the same genre as the ones you are trying to write. A lot of so called experts will tell you to avoid reading books in the same genre since you may accidentally plagiarize the other authors work in an attempt to make yours better. The chances of that are slim. Plagiarism takes a certain amount of thought before it happens, you can’t really plagiarize someone’s work unknowingly.
Try writing something else– this is why I have a blog. It gives me my creative outlet for when I get stumped on my projects. Write about anything you love from makeup to writing. Use this time to build your following of social media, promote your other works, maybe even start on that story you have on the back burner.
Research– Try researching how to better your writing, where you can promote your work, or just look up some recipies. You would be surprised at where inspiration hides.
Edit– use this down time to go back through what you’ve already written and fix problems in the plot, punctuation, and sentence structure. Sometimes you have to go back to the beginning to fix the issues before you can go on.
Enlist a friend– sometimes you just need someone to bounce ideas off of or to give you inspiration. You would be surprised how many people are willing to help if you just say “Hey, do you mind looking over this chapter and giving me your thoughts on how to continue?”
Try some writing prompts– Writing prompts can be a good way to get the juices flowing.
Lack of Motivation
Motivation is a hard one to overcome. Like I said, sometimes you just need a break. If a break doesn’t help try a whole different approach.
Give yourself deadlines– Sometimes knowing that you have to have something done by a certain date is enough to motivate you. I preset my release dates though I keep them a secret until I know I will have the book done on time. You could set weekly, daily, monthly, or project specific goals to help push you along.
Read a book– I know this was already listed but I believe to write you must read. Every time I read a great book I always feel like writing. So choose your absolute favorite book, the one that you’ve read a million times and still cry everything the character confesses his love for the girl, and read a few pages or chapters. Just enough to get you into the mood. Not only can this help overcome your lack of motivation but it will also make your writing better. I read 2 chapters everyday before I start writing.
Set down and type– Sometimes you just have to force yourself to do something. You don’t feel like doing the dishes but if you don’t you will be eating your cereal out of the dog bowl.
Visit a Writers Group– Reading some of the discussions in writers groups is a great way to not only learn more about the craft but also to motivate yourself to write. There is nothing better to motivate you than to read a rags to riches post from an unknown self published indie who is making bank on their novels. Facebook has tons of Writers Groups, just be sure you are taking away the good information and not the bad or letting the bad seeds in the groups bring you down. you can find a list of amazing Writers Groups in the Aspiring Authors Section.
Lack of Time
We are all super busy all of the time so this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Sometimes not having enough time to write will make you not want to even try. Scheduling your writing so that it fits into your busy schedule is one of the hardest things you will ever do and is probably one of the main reasons your manuscript isn’t finished yet.
Between kids, a job, and daily chores it’s hard to find time to squeeze in a few minutes of writing everyday but it’s essential that you try. If you have time to schedule in your daily dose of The Walking Dead than you can find the time to write.
Make a schedule and stick to it– even if you can only devote 30 minutes a day late at night after the kids are asleep do it and make sure you do it daily, weekly, or whenever you pencil it in.
Make the time– set your DVR to record your favorite shows, send your kids to an after school program or friends for an hour or two, or order takeout and rent a movie one night a week to keep everyone busy while you seek off to your cave to write.
Some other tips to combat writers block.
Take a walk or excersise– the quiet time and the extra fresh air will help clear your mind and get the gears turning. The new scenery can spark an idea for the setting of your next chapter and the people you see on your journey may inspire characters.
Clean the house– I know, why would you want to do that? You hate cleaning. Believe it or not, the physical activity helps as does the quiet time. Some of my best ideas for The Realms Series, like Squirt the Showshaw and the Grogus that Sapphire runs into in the book, came to me while I was washing dishes.
Go shopping or run errands– new faces, products like stuffed animals, or even signs in store windows help spark ideas and get you out of the house.
Change where you write– sit outside in a hammock, by a pool, or in front of a window in a different room of the house. Sometimes you just need a change of scenery.
Take a writer’s course– This will help hone your skills as a writer and give you ideas to write about. There are a lot of online courses that you can take for free as well as some paid ones. You can also call your local college to see if they offer any.
Listen to some good music– Music is a great way to alleviate writers block.
Pinterest– Pinterest has tons of pinned posts specifically for authors. Go create a board for writing and pin away. Don’t worry if you get off topic; browsing Pinterest can be a fun way to get ideas. You could start by pinning this post.
Do you have any creative ways to combat writer’s block? What works best for you? Leave your answers in the comments below.