There is a phenomenon in the writing community which is greeted with a mixture of vexation and resignation. A phenomenon so well known that it has become aptly named writer’s block.
From the novice writer to the seasoned veteran, writer’s block comes calling at the worst possible times. It’s that chapter twisted up in knots. The character who becomes silent during the pivotal climax. The death scene which doesn’t illicit true feeling.
Although frustrating, writer’s block does not have to become a permanent fixture. Instead, there are several methods which can help you kick writer’s block to the curb.
Below are six of my favorite strategies for saying goodbye to writer’s block and hello to creativity.
1. Return to the Beginning
Go back to the beginning and remember why you wanted to become a writer. When did you fall in love with storytelling? Which authors do you aspire to emulate? What makes you passionate about your craft? Where do you see yourself in five years?
Dig down deep and move beyond the temporary roadblock you are facing. You are a writer and always will be a writer if you believe in it with every part of your being. Your passion will not be doused by small set-backs or ruts in the road leading towards your dream. There is nothing insurmountable except quitting. So take a trip down memory lane and spark that confidence which will set you apart from others.
2. Permission to Take Breaks
It is perfectly acceptable to walk away from your work space and take a break. In fact, the more time you spend knocking your head against the wall in utter frustration, the more your writer’s block grows. Instead, allow yourself to take a well deserved break.
It is recommend to try a minimum of 30 minutes; however, any amount of time will be beneficial. Give yourself the gift of time to regroup and revive your passion. Permission to not think about writing will help clear the mind and banish any frustration, anxiety or self-doubt you may be experiencing.
3. Converse With Your Characters
One of the greatest pieces of advice I received when I first started out writing was to create a character map. This comes in handy not only in helping you intimately know your characters but, it also is there to jump start the creative juices when a mountain- sized roadblock creeps up. Using a detailed character map, pretend as if you are friends siting down to a cup of coffee and chat away.
As an author you live, breathe and dream your characters on a daily basis. However, sometimes it is easy to forget that our characters can shift and change from where they first developed in the mind. Having a conversation, even the superficial, can create new layers and dimensions to your literary family.
As with any passion, it is easy to immerse ourselves so deeply that we forget to take care of our own needs. The exhaustion of deadlines, writer’s blocks, and interruptions can have us scrambling to make up time by neglecting to care for our minds and bodies. By engaging in a few simple acts, you can rejuvenate mind and body and eliminate that pesky writer’s block.
Try listening to an uplifting song or belt out your favorite karaoke classic. Take a walk, ride a bike, or participate in an aerobics class at a local gym. Bake your favorite dessert or meal prep for the week. Relax in a bubble bath and savor some wine. Do a 20-minute Yoga routine then take a nap. Call up a friend or loved one to chat. Do some woodwork or mow the lawn.
Self-Care is all about what helps relax your body and balance your emotions. When you take the time to care for yourself, your writing will fall in place as well.
5. Change of Scenery
Sometimes a change of scenery is all it takes to put the spark back into the literary fire. Having a preferred spot where you are able churn out page after page is quite practical and beneficial. When writer’s block hits though, try writing in a new place. If you write from a home office, try writing out on your back deck or sitting in a hammock. If you are constantly typing away during your hourly train commute to work, try writing during your lunch break at a park or library. The location does not matter as much as the slight change in perspective.
6. Just Write
While on the surface this may seen counterintuitive, just write is my favorite strategy because it works. Write about anything and everything, even if it doesn’t pertain to the story plot-line at the moment. The topic, the structure, the grammar...none of that really matters as long as you let the words flow out.
In many cases, a different writing style or genre of writing will help. Instead of wallowing miserably while attempting to write the next chapter of your YA fantasy, try writing a poem or create a journal entry about your day. Pretend to be a newspaper reporter and report on a current event. Tackle an adult murder mystery premise.
Another possibility is to write down how you feel about writer’s block. Are you angry? Frustrated? Nervous? Exhausted? Write about it. Let it all out onto paper or the computer screen. Soon enough, the anxiety to maintain productivity will fade away and be replaced by a sense of peace.
Using these strategies, feel confident in kicking writer’s block to the curb. Tame the beast today, create with beauty tomorrow.