It’s time to write. You sit down at your desk and take out your notebook or open your laptop, and you pick up your pencil or put your fingers on the keyboard. You’re ready to start where you left off; the show must go on.
But you can’t. Your fingers stretch in frustration and you begin wondering if you had enough coffee that morning. You brainstorm about your next scene; you think about it and glean ideas for it until your brain is numb.
You just can’t write.
Over time, I’ve heard people say that there’s no such thing as Writer’s Block. Okay, I thought, but there is such a thing as a writer’s Block. I mean, look, I have a picture: proof.
Whenever you encounter a hopeless situation where you find that you can’t simply write, and when you’re about to blame it on Writer’s Block, take this wooden block and hit yourself on the head with it. Just once, twice, however many times it takes for you to knock the idea out of your head that you will surrender to Writer’s Block. You are stuck, but there is a way out of it.
Here’s why I believe this to be true.
Writer’s Block is a myth. It’s a name writers slap on a sticky situation in the writing process. But I see saying that you have Writer’s Block as an excuse, something to blame a lack of inspiration or skill on, for not writing. But really, you’re stuck. Every single writer who’s ever written has been stuck before; it’s part of the writing process. Don’t think as Writer’s Block as a kind of enemy that comes randomly.
There are ways to fix being stuck. Here are a few of them.
- Free write. Your main project is getting you stuck; you feel the pressure of needing to finish a chapter, cut some scenes, or even rewrite a majority of your manuscript. Lay that aside. Take out a blank piece of paper and start writing … whatever. Perhaps start with your frustration at getting stuck and go from there.
- Stop writing and take time to do some editing. On paper. Print out your manuscript and take some time to read what you’ve written so far on something other than a screen. While you read, hold a red pen; because I guarantee you’re going to use that red pen, even if you’re not reading to edit. This is a great way to see your story in a different light, and I don’t know about you, but reading my writing on print has always been a delight.
- Take a nap. Have some coffee. Take a looooong break from writing. This will stimulate and clear you mind, helping you to go back to your writing for a fresh restart. (Here’s a tip I’ll give that may cause a loss of blog followers: Take the nap before you resort to coffee; caffeine’s not always the answer. There, I said it.) Also, taking a nice break will always be helpful, whether it’s walking outside for a few minutes for a breath of fresh air, or a two-week long vacation. It’s a great way to reset your mind and come back with a clear head and, hopefully, renewed determination.
- Find inspiration. There are so many ways to get great writing inspiration. Pinterest and music are popular choices. I like film scores that fit the mood for my writing. Also, simply reading books or watching movies are awesome resources for inspiration, particularly if they’re in the genre you write in (i.e., I’m writing a sci-fi epic, so I try not to glean too much from Pride and Prejudice).
- There may be something wrong with your story that causes you to lose interest. This is the hardest thing to admit; sometimes you feel like you have Writer’s Block, but maybe it’s just because you’ve lost interest in your story, or certain characters. When this happened to me several years ago, I just decided to ditch my story; my character was stuck on a journey, and I had no idea where it was taking her. I liked some of the ideas in my story, but it eventually went nowhere. If this is true with you, don’t ditch your story. Try everything you can to regain interest in it. You may have to completely rewrite it. You may have to write a lengthy, robust outline. You may have to come up with different characters. But don’t change your main plot or ideas; these are the heart of your story that you need to keep.
- Write something different. This has helped me time and time again. I’ve been working on a long novel for a few years now, but I always get sidetracked with different story ideas, cool character creations, and different plots. I tried to ignore them, ensuring that I focused on my main project, but temptation got the best of me, and I started writing a short story. I went into it feeling a little guilty, but later, I saw that taking a break and writing something different was a big breath of fresh air. When I went back to my novel, my brain was ready to focus.
Here’s a post I wrote a little while ago on 10 Ways to Get Writing Inspiration. All of these also help getting past Writer’s Block.
So there you are. But remember: just because you feel that you can’t write doesn’t mean you can go blaming it on a term. Treat your symptoms, clear your mind, get inspiration, take a break. What are your thoughts on Writer’s Block? What things do you like to do that helps you gain motivation to finish your stories? I’d love to hear about them.