7 Ways to Cure Writer's Block
Have you ever hit a wall in your writing?
I’ve been working on my latest manuscript. I wrote nearly 30k pages in two weeks.
And then it happened. The thing every writer dreads most.
I sat at my computer and stared at the screen.
I typed a few sentences, then promptly deleted them in disgust.
What happened? I had been full of enthusiasm, excited to get my story on the page.
And then nothing.
This was nearly a month ago. Since then, I’ve managed to pound out nearly 20k additional pages, but I’m not thrilled with it. Instead of anticipating the few stolen moments I get at my computer in my busy schedule, I dread them.
This is writer’s block. It may take on different forms and arise for different reasons, but every writer has experienced it.
Perhaps you burned out writing too many pages or too many books in a series. Or you are disappointed by your overall experience as a new author. Maybe you can’t relate to your characters, or the plot is stuck and you can’t find a solution.
Whatever the cause, when writer’s block rears its ugly head, we need to find a solution.
Here are 7 ways to cure Writer’s Block:
1) Don’t restrict your writing to time in front of your computer / typewriter / notebook. I’ve found that the best ideas for my book come to me when I’m relaxed, either driving, showering, or taking a walk. Have a notebook handy (or a voice recorder) to take some notes that you can later add into your manuscript.
Most of my plot solutions, interesting scenes, and character depth comes from times when I’m not trying to think about my book. Even when I’m feeling unmotivated, I find I’ve written several hundred pages worth of ideas in my notebook before I’ve even sat at my computer.
2) Try a writing exercise. I avoided this for a long time. I have such limited time to write in the first place, I didn’t want to waste time writing something that would never appear in a book. But that was a mistake.
Writing exercises take you back to the basics, forcing you to consider what really matters to a reader: The sensory details of an experience. Readers just want to feel like they are part of your story; to be able to envision the same sunset as your heroine, to feel that water lapping at her feet, to shiver in the cooling evening air. Taste the salt on their lips. The few moments you sacrifice to a writing exercise will pay off, I promise.
3) Read a good book. What inspired you to write in the first place? The joy you get from a good story, the emotional rush from a drama, the delicious chill from that new horror book you can’t wait to finish? A good book can give you the inspiration you need to turn back to your own book with renewed vigor. The advice I’ve heard is to read as much as you write.
4) Don’t be overly critical of yourself. One of my biggest causes of writer’s block is my own self-doubt. I think what I’m writing isn’t good enough, that every other writer is better, and my lack of sales is a result of my own failure as an author… It is easy to get yourself down and become overly-critical of your writing. Just get your thoughts out there. You can refine them later. And any author willing to accept constructive criticism and find a decent editor can have a great book. No one writers a bestseller in the first sitting. It takes time, practice, and lots of editing to get to that point. And possibly years of efforts…
5) Exercise. I love to take walks. Being outdoors is inspiring enough, but combining fresh air and exercises really gets my mind working. By exercising, you are getting extra oxygen pumping and releasing endorphins. This combination will help you feel better overall, which will go a long way in combating negative emotions or physical ailments that might keep you from writing.
6) Listen to music. Music speaks to us; listening to music that is meaningful, evocative, or just has a great beat will inspire ideas. I enjoy creating a playlist, which I call my soundtrack, for each book. When I put on my “book soundtrack”, it immediately puts me into the mood I need to begin writing. The playlist for my first book, Reaper, included artists like Bastille, Of Monsters and Men, Avicii, One Republic, and Imagine Dragons. The right music can speak to your soul and get the creative juices flowing.
7) Never give up. Even if you don’t feel like writing, sit down and do it. Every day, if you can. Get up half an hour earlier or stay up a little later and get a paragraph written. The worst thing you can do is to stop writing. While taking a brief break (a week or so) away from a book can help (and spend that extra time doing writing prompts, reading a good book, or exercising), don’t stay away too long.
Share your techniques for combating writer’s block, or favorite writing prompts. I’d love to try them!