What is writer’s block? It’s that lovely moment when you are either in the middle of writing, or about to start, and you hit a brick wall (figuratively speaking). No ideas will come to you and you can’t find the words for any idea that you may get. There are people who have told me that writer’s block isn’t real because there is always something to write about. Yes, that’s true, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Writer’s block just means that you need to take a step back to gather your thoughts and refuel your creativity.
So how can you overcome writer’s block? It varies a person to person. I’ve compiled a list of different methods that usually help me, and that I hope will help you, too. Don’t worry, you don’t have to spend hours going through this entire list until you’ve completed each one. Doing that would overwhelm you and make you dread the list which would actually stunt the creative flow.
Stop what you are doing, lay back, and relax. Whatever you are trying to write came from an idea that originated from your imagination. All you have to do is tap into it. Just picture the scene in your head, and then play out every scenario until you are able to decide which one works. Ask yourself: Who are the characters? Where are they? Is there a conflict (what is it)? What are they saying? You’d be surprised at how helpful it is to your creative senses when you take a moment to just focus on the idea. This method is usually my first step because of how easy it is (as long as you are able to ignore any distractions around you).
Write it down (optional).
I added this because it’s important to write your ideas and daydreams. There is nothing worse than trying to remember what you wanted a character to say. This method is great because you won’t have to worry about forgetting. Also, if you write it in chronological order, then it’s a checklist that you can refer back to. I do this a lot when I outline a chapter.
Going back to comment I made at the end of method one, a lot of the time there are distractions. Children are around, housework to do, stuff for work, and the weight of the world on our shoulders. It’s crazy that one of the easiest ways to get our creative flow going is by having No Distractions. I have this problem a lot since I am around my nieces and nephew all the time. There’s constant talking, moving around, the TV is always going, and noise.
They argue, cry, yell, run, and jump. The dog and cat are always at odds with each other and want my attention. They won’t leave me alone until they get it. I am always pushing one away, being a mediator between children, and doing something they need. There are time outs and sometimes I have to raise my voice. This house is pretty hectic as anyone who has children in their house knows. It’s difficult to take a moment and focus on writing when there are so many things going on at once. Whenever I decide to write I can’t have anything clouding my brain. I need it finished before I even consider plugging my flash drive into my laptop. So if you find a messy space distracting, you need to clean it.
Listen to Music.
Wonderful things come from taking the time to listen to music and really feel the words you are hearing. Everyone loves it when they hear a song and can relate it to their own life. Songs can remind you of a friend or family member, or a boyfriend or girlfriend. Sometimes even a memory from your childhood. Music brings distant emotions to the surface and allows you to find the inspiration for what you are writing.
It helps us to describe emotions in what we’re writing because we are able to recall it to us. Just about every Skillet song fits one of my stories, where every Within Temptation songs fits another story. Some of the events in my books wouldn’t have existed if I hadn’t heard certain songs. Music is an overall wonderful way to get those creative juices flowing so you can get to writing. It’s almost like the inspiration never ends because every time you hear it you will think of something new.
A somewhat longer method to finding inspiration is to Read. A poem, a book, or a short story is a huge help in creating your own. When I first read Harry Potter I realized that writing was what I really wanted to do. I love books like Divergent, The Giver, and Hunger Games where it talks about societies that have changed because of a gruesome history and the selfish acts of people. Those changed my life and how I view the world. From those, I am able to create my own. As your point of view changes, so will your characters’ points of view. They will change your story more than you will. Just remember to not plagiarize.
I’ve found that Taking Breaks are very beneficial to writing. I’m not talking about a ten-minute break here and there so you aren’t constantly looking at a screen (although those are important, too). I mean taking a little break from writing to rejuvenate your inner need to do so. Everyone gets burnt out on doing the same things over and over. Just remember that when you quit something for a while, it’s possible that you will wake up months later and realize you haven’t written anything in forever.
I know that the worst part of writing, for me, is starting back up after such a long time not doing it. You should only choose this method if you think the reason for your block is that you’ve written so much, then you’re burned out. I’ve found the best way to go about it is to take the time you would be writing and read. This still links you to your writing and you may start writing again before you think!
Write something else
So from that, there is another type of break for a writer: Write something else. Creating a story is easy; it’s the details and the real writing part that drains you and your poor brain. I’m sure we’ve all been through that moment where we ask ourselves, “Why did I want to write this first?” Because it was new and exciting. When something is new and exciting we drop everything for it. A new job, a new relationship, a new brand of foundation or eyeliner, it’s the same with a new story. So whether it’s a poem, short story, or a new novel idea, write something else. You’d be surprised by how refreshing it is to have something else to do and think about! I tend to bounce back and forth between stories which are great because there is always room for inspiration to get me back into the zone.
I saved this method for last because it’s something new that I’ve started to do, and so far, it’s worked really well. However, it’ll make you roll your eyes. We all remember those writing assignments we had in school where the teacher handed out a sheet of paper with an idea on it and we had an allotted amount of time to write something about it. They’re called Prompts. In school, I never found them fun, but as an adult, I have found such good ones that now it’s exciting to pick one out and create something on the spot. All I do is look up “Writing prompts” on Google.com and search images.
I prefer to do images because sorting through all the articles is a waste of time to me. Then you just pick one and start writing. On my word document, I like to put what the prompt is for when I go back and read it in the future. I’ve written them as a personal essay, and I’ve also written them as a short story. It’s a great way to get the creative juices going whether you choose to do it when you have writer’s block, or before you even start writing your real story.
Remember that no matter what you are writing (book, short story, poem, etc), these methods will work for you. Don’t look at this huge list and overwhelm yourself thinking you have to do all of them before you are able to get rid of the infamous block. Start with the first one, and if that doesn’t work, move to the next. Listen to music, watch a movie or your favorite TV show, day-dream, or busy yourself with housework (clean air means clean head). Do anything that distracts your mind from what you are writing. Inspiration is everywhere. You just have to look.
Header photo was found on google. Image owned by Magoosh.com