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Writer’s block is a problem that has been plaguing writers for millennia. When it strikes, the writer simply hits a wall and cannot come up with any more ideas or cannot find a way to continue writing. Oftentimes, writers who experience writer’s block get extremely stressed out and lose motivation to continue with their work.
Fortunately, there are tried & true methods for defeating this ancient foe. If you’re a writer dealing with writer’s block, here are some great strategies for overcoming this problem.
1. Go for a walk or a run
There are multiple reasons why this is a helpful strategy for dealing with writer’s block. First, it gives your mind a quick break from the page and allows you to get some fresh air. Also, when you walk or run, it will get your blood flowing which can be good for rejuvenating your creative spirit. Exercise also helps to boost your endorphins which can help you to feel more positive. Finally, when you get back from your run or walk, you will feel like you have accomplished something. This will inspire you to work harder to overcome the difficult point in your writing that you are at.
And who knows? Maybe you’ll see or hear something that sparks your creativity while you’re out!
2. Listen to some music
When you’re experiencing writer’s block, emotions and creativity can feel completely frozen. Music has a way of freeing emotions and encouraging creativity, and often helps writers tackle the more difficult aspects of writing.
Choose a movie soundtrack that takes place in a world similar to your novel; or, try an album in a music style that embodies the heart and soul of your story or your main character. You can do this while taking a break, or listen while writing to get into a really deep character point-of-view (POV).
Another strategy is not just to turn on music, but to use headphones or earbuds to help tune out the outside world. Personally, even if I’m alone in a hotel room, this helps me feel transported into the world of my book.
3. Have a conversion with a good friend or close family member
Whether you are trying to write an Amazon bestseller, or a column for a newspaper, having a conversation with someone close to you can be helpful. This is because expressing yourself vocally can help overcome creative blocks.
Don’t worry if you don’t have any close friends or family members who are writers. Much like Dr. House’s infamous epiphanies, sometimes simply verbalizing your thoughts about being stuck is enough to make everything come together in your mind.
Also, speaking with someone whom you care about can be restorative. Freely talking and venting your feelings about the story and the process of writing can help unblock creativity and emotional energy.
4. Read something else
Sometimes, just taking your mind off of your own work and diving into someone else’s world can help light that creative spark. Fiction, in particular, can be particularly helpful. This is because reading fiction is a temporary escape from your own worries and helps you forget about your writer’s block.
Friends and family members can offer good fiction recommendations if you don’t know what to read. Or, if you have some good fiction books to read lying around your home, you can read those (c’mon, we all have books lying around that we haven’t found time to read).
In particular, try to focus on the genre you’re writing in, taking notice of genre techniques.
5. Drink some coffee or tea
Is it a coincidence that some of the best writers in history, including Gertrude Stein, Natalie Goldberg, and J.K. Rowling all preferred to write in coffee shops? There seems to be something magical about coffee, tea, and coffee shops for alleviating writer’s block and for fueling creativity; and it’s no secret that caffeine has been shown to improve cognitive function.
But more than this, there’s something to be said for having a routine that signals to your brain it’s time to write. I attended a panel discussion by Sandra Taylor at the LTUE Writing Symposium, on the topic of Structuring Life to Support Creativity. She illustrated various ways to use physical cues or actions, such as opening a laptop. For example, when the laptop opens, it’s writing time, and everything else gets put to the side until the laptop closes.
The point is to have a routine, whether it’s lighting a candle, grabbing a cup of coffee, or putting on headphones. (For me, it’s a combination of music, coffee, and ambiance). This could be the exact thing that you need to write that next amazing chapter of your novel.
6. Imagine you’re only writing to one person
This is a strategy that was used by the famous author, John Steinbeck. Steinbeck is well-known for his novels The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men. Steinbeck used this strategy because he believed that it could be overwhelming to think about writing for a nameless, faceless audience made up of many people. Be sure to imagine your ideal reader; if you write for them, you can’t go wrong!
If thoughts of how your readers will judge your work are a root cause of writer’s block for you, this is a great strategy for letting go of those thoughts. As Gene Amole famously wrote:
“Of course the sunrise doesn’t care if we watch it or not. It will keep on being beautiful even if no one bothers to look. It is not like the tree that falls silently in the woods because there is no ear to hear it. The sunrise makes no demands on our lives. It illuminates and blesses our lives, expecting nothing in return.”
7. Stop in the middle of a sentence
This was a strategy used by Ernest Hemingway. The purpose of doing this is so that the following day, when you begin writing, it will be easier to get started again because there is already a portion of a sentence written, waiting to be completed. This is a rather ingenious way to defeat writer’s block, or to at least keep it further at bay. This technique can work regardless of whether you are trying to write an Amazon bestseller, or a magazine article. It may seem unnatural at first to not finish the last sentence for the day. However, when you wake up the next morning and get to work, you may just find that it is significantly easier to get started with your writing when there is already a half-written sentence waiting for you.
8. Take a break from media
This means, don’t watch television, don’t go on Facebook, don’t read the newspaper, etc. If your brain gets a break from processing so much information, then it may have more energy to put towards your creative work.
While you are taking a media break, you can do things like laundry, vacuuming, washing the dishes, etc. Just do things that are not mentally taxing and don’t require you to do a lot of thinking. You should spend at least several hours, but don’t over-do it to the point of exhaustion, either. When you return to your work, you may just find that you have a lot more mental energy to put towards your novel, article, etc. This can be a great remedy for writer’s block.
Sometimes the best way to get new ideas is to go somewhere new. This doesn’t mean you have to leave the country or even the state. It could be as simple as taking a long drive through the country and stopping at a local coffee shop to do some writing.
However, if you want to leave the country and visit a new city, that’s fine too. Whatever the case, if you are trying to create one of the best fiction books to read this year, getting out of your normal environment may be very helpful for curing your writer’s block. If you live in a city, you could even just take the train out of the city for the day and then take it back home at night. Doing something as simple as this could help you to find a whole new source of inspiration.
10. Do something else creative
For example, you can take a break and play a musical instrument, paint, attend a dance class, etc. You can even do some sketches of your characters, something that many authors do. This can help your characters to seem more real, and it can make it easier to create storylines for them.
When you tap into other sources of artistic expression, it can help your mind to access different levels of creativity. Ultimately, writer’s block is a temporary deficiency of creativity. So, anything you can do to boost creativity levels can potentially be a cure for writer’s block.
Take Control of Writer’s Block– Start Practicing Now!
No matter what type of writer you are, you are likely to experience writer’s block at some point. It is simply par for the course for wordsmiths of all types. However, even though this “malady” can be frustrating, it can usually be defeated in a short amount of time. A simple trip to your local coffee shop may be all that is needed to get your creative engine in gear again. Or, perhaps going for a quick run may work well for you.
To find out which is the best cure for writer’s block for you, you will have to do some experimentation. I suggest that you start out with the method on this list that resonates best with you. You should try that and see how it goes. If it works, then great! If not, simply move onto the next one. Keep going until you find a strategy that works very well for you.
Ultimately, the best writers are people who don’t give up, and who finish their works despite many challenges, including writer’s block. It is impossible to be a great writer if you can’t finish a literary work! So, keep going, keep trying, and eventually, you will most likely be able to move past your writer’s block and start churning out the next great section of your book or other work. In fact, if you use these strategies, your work could be finished before you know it!