It happens. There are times when you just don’t “feel” the words pouring out of you. The problem is we all too often label it as “writer’s block” and blame the block for not writing.
Truth is, writing is an exercise, like going to the gym. There are days we wake up with a pep in our step and can’t wait to hit the elliptical or weights. We are excited about getting back into shape. Then there are the days when the hardest thing we do is open the door to the gym and walk in. We move sluggishly around the equipment and struggle to get our sets done. Yet somehow we manage to get in that workout and usually feel like we overcame. Then there are the days when the will simply refuses to get in the car and go to the gym. Then the guilt sets in as we cram one more donut into our mouth and promise ourselves we will start again tomorrow.
Writing can be much the same way, the hope is that we don’t get to the third scenario in our writing (or workouts). The question is how do we overcome it?
Let’s take a look.
- Honor that you are struggling. It’s okay to not sit and produce a massive amount of words. It’s even more okay to write crap on the days you struggle.
- Try this: Sit at your computer or whatever you are writing on, and pick a word any word, type it over and over until you have a break through.
- Try this: Write about a memory that is good. Don’t try and turn it into a story just write down what you remember.
- Try this: Write jibberish. Just put down words that come to mind, don’t think about it just write down what ever words pop into your mind.
- Understanding what may be causing the problem. Something is happening in your story that is causing you difficulty. You may need to work out some details that you are not even aware of yet.
- Try this: Read a book. Not your book just a book. Now read it like a writer not a reader. Look for the things that may be causing you trouble. Sentence structure, character descriptions, dialogue. Return to your piece and see if anything you examined in that book helped you recognize what is causing you to struggle.
- Try this: Get out some index cards and write out the scenes you have in your novel then reorganize them into “what if’s”. Consider that you may need to move something around.
- Try this: Journal. Focus on you, and how you are feeling. What is in your mid that is keeping you from the page? What burdens are you carrying, what are you worried about. Write it out and get it out of you. You don’t have to share with anyone, just put out the feelings so you can acknowledge them.
- Try this: Read the last few scenes you have written for the day before you go to bed. Allow your brain to work on it while you are asleep. (This works with any kind of complicated problem. The mind works well when you aren’t interfering.)
- Take a break. Sometimes our work needs to cool. This does not mean you don’t write, it means you work on something different.
- Try this: Find a writing prompt (I post several on this site.) and make today the day you write on prompts. It will allow you to relieve your mind and still be productive
- Try this: Mind map. Get out a big piece of paper and pick subject or a character and just go crazy.
- Try this: Get physical. Take a walk, go to the gym (haha). Do something that will take your mind off writing for a while. Then get back in the chair.
The most important thing to beating the block is simple. YOU MUST WRITE. It doesn’t need to be on your work in progress, but you must write. A writing prompt or two., journal your day, jibberish, a what if scene, a mind map, blog post, your acceptance speech for the Nobel prize, it doesn’t matter what it is, the only way to beat the block is to write.
Not getting in the car is NOT an option. Now go lift some weights!