We’ve all done it. Finally managed to get a couple of hours that will be free of interruptions, only to sit down at the computer and stare at the screen, unable to type because we have absolutely no idea what to say. The ideas are there, but the words just aren’t coming. We have writer’s block.There are a number of ways to try to get past this. What I want to do today is list some of the methods that – for me at least – work best, and also those that work worst.
- Read through what you’ve already got. Do some edits here and there and maybe extend a scene or two. Just immersing yourself in your story
- Jot down some ideas in freeform mode. It might be a whole scene, it might be a line of snappy dialogue, it might be an impression or an emotion. Even if it doesn’t make sense, write it down. You may find inspiration in your jottings at a later date.
- If you’re a linear writer (ie, you start at the beginning and write in order till you get to the end), perhaps think about writing a scene that you haven’t got to yet. Most people have ideas about key points in their stories, and how they want them to go. Write them down. Construct the scene. Sure, when you get to it you might change bits of it (or lots of it), but it will get you writing again. (If you’re not a linear writer and simply don’t know where to start, do this too. Get those key scenes down in print. You can always change them later if you need to.)
- Try free writing. Open a blank document and just type words (or, if you prefer longhand, open a new page of your notebook). Don’t think about the words, don’t try to modify them, and don’t worry if they don’t make any sense. Just the act of writing can be what you need to get back into it. (Also, free writing can sometimes free things from your subconscious. Don’t discount what you see on the paper once you’re done.)
- Read something similar to what you’re trying to write to get your head in the right space for that genre.
- Opening Facebook or Twitter and scrolling through, telling yourself you’re looking for inspiration. Chances are you’ll just get distracted, start trolling through blogs and the like, and two hours later you’ll have achieved precisely nothing.
- Letting yourself get bogged down in a particular scene. If there’s something you can’t seem to get past, just ignore it for the time being and come back to it when you’ve had a bit of a break.
- Getting another coffee. Then noticing the kitchen bench needs wiping down, so getting out a dishcloth to do that. Then thinking that the dishcloth needs washing so putting a load of laundry on. Then noticing that the kids have tracked mud through the laundry so mopping the floor. Then thinking that since you’ve got the mop out you might as well do the bathroom and kitchen floors as well. Then noticing there’s a ring around the bath so cleaning that. Then remembering you haven’t brushed your teeth today so doing that. Then noticing that the toothpaste tastes odd because it’s not combined with the taste of coffee like it normally is, so going back to the kitchen to drink the coffee you made. Then realising you’ve taken so long to do everything else that your coffee is now cold, so tipping it out and making some more. Then noticing that the dishes need doing …
Of course, what works for me isn’t necessarily going to be what works for other people, but from what I can tell a lot of what works for me is almost universal. Naturally, sometimes writer’s block isn’t going to respond to anything listed above, whether recommended or not, but often – I find at least – it will. It’s just a matter of trying things out and seeing how you go.
- Overcome Writer’s Block … With Poetry (clurradonald.com)
- How to End Writer’s Block! (countryliving4beginners.wordpress.com)
- Getting through writer’s block, expanding subject matter, tips? (gearslutz.com)
- Writer’s Block (radaronelson.wordpress.com)
- Winning the Fight Against Writer’s Block (weblogbetter.com)