By Christy Nicholas
What is it?
Wikipedia defines Writer’s Block as a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown. Some authors experience it a lot, some not at all, some only during certain conditions. Many famous authors have suffered from it, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles M. Schulz (Peanuts), Elizabeth Gilbert, and Herman Melville.
What writer’s block experiences have you had?
Why do we get it?
Personal issues with external life
Running out of ideas
Running out of inspiration
Stuck on a plot point
A scene isn’t working but we don’t know why
- Take a self-care day – pamper yourself. Have a cup of hot chocolate. Take a nap. Watch an episode or two of your favorite brainless sitcom.
- Write about something else – anything else. Poetry. Word association. Write a word at the top of the page and just brainstorm about words associated with it. No punctuation, no grammar. No editing
- Switch out to writing things out long hand – this engages a different thought process and can help mix things up a bit
- Write a VERY short synopsis of where you are up to this point and finish the tale in your head – like three or four sentences, maximum
- Break the routine – write somewhere else. Go to the coffee shop, the library, a hillside
- Treat writing like a job – set a time for it every day
- Talk to friends – sometimes they can help you see what you’re missing. They work as a sounding board
- Study an aspect of writing – plot structure, character development, theme or subplot techniques
- Shut down the distractions – Shut down the social media, turn off your phone, close the door
- Take a cold shower – can reset your brain
- Read your story aloud – Audial processing is different from visual processing
- Stop trying to do it all at once – tackle one part of a scene at a time. Just write the scene, or just write the dialogue, or the action
- Do some cleaning, go for a walk – but don’t let this become a procrastination technique. It’s too easy!
- Break the problem down into bits – Is the block because you don’t know what comes next? Or because the character doesn’t sound right? Or maybe you missed something in the past that you can’t remember but needs to be addressed?
- Re-read your draft from the beginning – this can help you gel your ideas for the whole book and show where you need to go
- Read bad reviews of other books in your genre, as ideas of what NOT to do
- Write a letter to your character about why they aren’t cooperating – ‘Why are you being so obstinate? I’ve given you everything, and you sit there, mute, with your mouth hanging open like a demented fish.’
- Put on the soundtrack to a favorite or inspiring movie while you write – show tunes, classical music, whichever is your jam.
- Play the scene in your mind like a movie – Imagine the blocking (where characters are standing/sitting), what they’re wearing, what sort of lighting, etc.
- Read something – anything. Poetry, short stories, an excerpt from someone else’s novel, your older work, etc.
- Peruse some visual art – use something particularly interesting as a writing prompt. (posted daily on Corning Area Writers Group FB page)
- Listen to your favorite songs for a day – nostalgia is a powerful tool to stir the imagination
- Outline the scene – use phrases and words, rather than formal sentences. Start with the last scene if you need to
- Skip the scene and move to the next one – write ‘FINISH SCENE HERE’ and move on, if you know where you should be going and just can’t figure out how to get there. Come back later when you’ve written more.
- Exercise – anything that gets the blood pumping. Cleaning, cooking, crafting, gardening, something that keeps your hand busy and your mind free.
- Write the scene from the POV of a different character, even if you don’t plan on having that POV in the final draft
- A long drive
- Write down what you want that scene to accomplish
- Write fast (no editing, no grammar) – no punctuation. No spelling. Just write.
- Give yourself permission to write badly – This permission is important. It allows you to just get a draft down, as you can always edit later. You can’t edit a blank page
- Change your font to Comic Sans – seriously, some people say this helps them. It makes the font less intimidating and more playful.