As a writer, you’ve probably had a battle or two with the fierce monster known as writer’s block. It can be tough to battle a monster you can’t see. When we get a cut, we clean it and bandage it up. When we are sick, we rest or take the appropriate medicine. When the house gets messy, we put things back where they belong. It’s much easier to find a solution when we can see the problem right in front of us. So what do we do when we can’t physically see the problem? Well, that’s what I am going to help you figure out. Here are some good, and bad, ways to overcome writer’s block.
Ways to successfully eliminate writer’s block.
- Eliminate distractions: Turn off your phone, turn off the TV, and get away from any other unnecessary chaos. Find a place away from the noisy kids, the dog who wants to go in and out, the messy kitchen you feel you should clean, the laundry you want to get done, and anything else that will distract you from the task at hand, writing.
- Change your environment: If you can’t eliminate your distractions, or if it’s just TOO quiet, change your surroundings. Switch rooms, go outside and sit under a tree or at the picnic table, or you can even go sit in a quiet café. The point is, switch it up instead of just sitting there being frustrated.
- Go for a walk: Take a break and take a stroll. Just clear you mind, or perhaps take a walk to your new location. Either way, get out and get some fresh air before going back to writing.
- Turn off the internet: Do you ever find yourself scrolling through Facebook, playing Candy Crush, or answering emails when you’re supposed to be writing? This goes hand in hand with eliminating distractions, but I’ll say it anyway…TURN OFF THE INTERNET! It can be one of our biggest distractions, especially when we are already typing away (or trying to, anyway) on the computer.
- Free-write your heart out: Try writing anything that comes to mind. Forget about punctuation, spelling, and everything else technical. Just write. Even if all you can think of in your moment of frustration is “I can’t write, I can’t write, I can’t write,” go ahead and write it down! Things will start to flow and you will get some ideas, or you will clear your head while getting your frustration out.
- Read something: Read something else. Pick up a book, read some of your old work, grab a newspaper, read some inspiring quotes, or find a good blog. Get out of your own head and get inspired, be entertained, and get some new ideas floating around up there.
- Listen to music: Try listening to some music to open up those creative juices. Something relaxing, like classical, can help drop your frustration and tension down a few levels. It may even relax you enough to let clear your mind of some clutter and let a few new ideas in.
- Outlines, bullets, and notes: Don’t sit there staring at a blank, white page. Try writing an outline, or jotting down some notes to help you get started. You can even try brainstorming with bullet points. Sometimes getting some short, basic ideas down on paper will get the ball rolling.
- Coffee, coffee, coffee: Okay, so maybe you only need ONE cup of coffee, but you get the point. Get up, stretch, and brew some of that deliciously caffeinated beverage that you love so much. A little boost of aromatic happiness in a mug is sure to get you on the right track.
- Get up and get going: When you’re creatively stuck, don’t just sit there stuck to your chair. Get up and get the blood flowing. Dance, jog, do some yoga, go for a run, take a bike ride, or even do some jumping jacks! The point is to get out of that chair and get the blood flowing to your brain so that the great ideas can follow it up there.
- Get creative: I know you’re probably thinking; that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do! Well, I don’t mean on paper. Once again, you need to get up out of that chair! Go do SOMETHING ELSE creative. ANYTHING else. Work on a D.I.Y. project, scrapbook, paint something, write a poem, play an instrument, or get creative with something else you love to do. Get away from those unfeeling keys and that white page that’s just been giving you the same blank stare for hours. Let your creative juices flow in a different way and come back to your writing later or even the next day!
- Phone a friend: Get in touch with an old friend, best friend, or someone else who you love to talk to or need to catch up with. Sometimes talking about other things will lead to some great ideas when you least expect it! At the very least, talking to someone you enjoy can be a great confidence and mood booster.
- Patchwork: Instead of starting with word one of line one of chapter one, start with part of the story you are familiar with and feel good about. You can always work your way back to the beginning and smooth out transitions later. Sometimes just getting started is the key. It does not have to be written in the order that your audience will eventually read it. If you have something to write about now, why wait just because you can’t come up with “the right” first sentence? That may come even easier once you have some of your story down in front of you.
- Write, don't edit: Do you ever feel the need to correct a word or two, some punctuation, or rearrange the words in a sentence while you’re writing? Well, DON’T. There is no need to mess around with that in the middle of a creative streak. Let the words flow onto the page and tell your story. There will be plenty of time for editing later. Getting caught up in those little things can easily cause you to lose focus and bring your writing to a screeching halt.
- Rise and Shine: Try writing early in the morning before you get into all the details, distractions, and responsibilities that make up your day. Don’t start opening emails, paying bills, cleaning things up around the house, etc. Just let yourself write, even if it’s only for a half hour. It could be extremely productive since your brain will not yet have been bombarded by a million other things that need its attention.
The worst ways to try defeating writer's block.
- Perfection: Trying to make everything perfect the first time through is sure to land you at the corner of Writer’s Block and Severe Frustration. It’s called a first draft for a reason. Let it be the first draft and don’t worry about it being absolutely perfect right now. There are plenty of steps after the first draft that will get your work to it’s perfect state.
- Inspiration will strike: Will it? Waiting for inspiration to strike is like waiting to win the lottery. Don’t just wait around. Be proactive, and try some of the steps above. Then, you may get your inspiration.
- Excuse me while I procrastinate: Making excuses will only leave you blocked up longer. Procrastination isn’t any better. Again, try some of the steps above before you start dodging your writing out of pure frustration.
- Try, try again: Trial and error may be a good method for certain things, but it may not be the best way to get through your writer’s block. It tends to lead to the same overused or rejected phrases again and again. Instead, you guessed it, try some of the ideas above!
- Boo-hoo: Taking the self-pity train down to wallow town will never get you anywhere. You can let that big old blockage get the best of you, or you can fight through it! If you’re here reading this, then you’ve probably already decided to find ways to fight through. Good for you!
- The DVR is getting full: Watching TV, whether pre-recorded or not, is never a good idea. This falls under the distraction category. It’s better to just leave it off.
I have given you some great tools for fighting that writer’s block monster. Now all you have to do is try them out and find out which ones work best for you. That monster will be history, and you can get back to being the creative genius you are!
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