I don’t really believe in writer’s block. Perhaps it’s the words I quibble with. “Writer’s block” makes it sound like some unsolvable problem. Some uncontrollable thing that’s happened to us.
Really, “writer’s block” is the term we tend to use if we’re feeling stuck, fearful, or uninspired.
The key word in that sentence is “feeling.” There’s some emotion we’re letting get in the way of doing our work.
That’s different from having a writing problem that needs solving. Sometimes we know how a story begins and how it ends, but don’t quite know what happens in the middle. Or we might have knots in our plot we need to untangle. Again, these are things we can iron out so long as we buckle down and get to work. (See my posts about fixing that messy middle or how to fix the 5 most common plotting mistakes.)
No, sometimes we just “feel” like we can’t write.
Here are 5 easy ways to beat writer’s block.
Feed the Well
Sometimes we draw from the creative well but don’t do enough to fill it up. Do some research. Look at books that inspire you (mythology books inspire me). Look at art. Watch a travel video. Do whatever it is that makes you feel inspired. Or try something new altogether. Be adventurous and playful.
But don’t get sucked into the vortex of endless research and Internet surfing. (Not that I’ve ever been guilty of such a sin. *cough*) Try giving yourself a time limit on your imagination-boosting romp and top it off with some writing. It doesn’t even have to be your work in progress. If it is your work in progress, it doesn’t have to be the meat and potatoes of it. Do background work on minor characters and places. Work on a subplot. Just work on something.
Change it Up
Our brains are remarkably efficient machines that get bored pretty easily. If you usually write (or try to write, or think about writing) in one place, write somewhere else. Take your laptop or notebook to the park, to the coffee shop, to the airport, to the mall, to your back patio. Even writing at your kitchen table can get your juices flowing if it’s not what you would normally do.
Doing something different stimulates your mind.
It tends to make us feel bold, too. That’s always a good thing when you’ve got a pen in hand.
Build Your Bag of Tricks
If I’m not quite feeling in the mood to write, I’ve noticed little things can turn that around. I might open up the blinds to let in the sunshine. I might turn on some of my favorite writing music. Try little tricks like this and pay attention to what works.
Give Yourself a Pep Talk
What we say to ourselves matters. Pay attention to that inner dialogue.
If I’m feeling off for some reason, sometimes I simply tell myself, “You can do it.” I remind myself that difficult emotions are just part of the writer’s life, even for those highly successful authors. Feeling those emotions are not a reason to give in to them. Feelings are just feelings.
If you ignore everything else on this list, don’t ignore this.
This is the one thing that works even when it’s the only thing you do.
Get those words down. Push forward. It doesn’t have to be perfect (which is a good thing, because it won’t be). It doesn’t have to be anything you keep. It only has to be words on paper. That’s it.
This is the best technique if your trouble is fear.
Fear tends to be strongest right before you begin. So, begin.
So next time you think you have writer’s block, try a tip on this list. Or try all of them. You may find the cure.
What tricks do you have for beating writer’s block?