So, you’ve just brewed a cup of coffee (or tea) and you sit down to your computer, boot it up and stare at a blank page for what seems like hours. This is a common problem for so many people, called ‘writer’s block’.
I’ve been known to suffer from it, really badly in the past, and it can feel like a huge smack in the face. You want to write, but you can’t. It’s devastating, but there are some simple tips that can help to overcome the accursed block.
These are the 10 things that I either do when I have a block or have set up to try to prevent a block
1) Get outside
You have to give yourself some time to get distracted and embrace your imagination. I find that going outside, even for 10 minutes, can help my mind to start roaring with ideas again. Sometimes you are too set on the writing and trying to get words onto paper, but you need to take time to live in order for those ideas to come.
“How vain is it to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”– Henry David Thoreau
Go on a short walk, go to the movies or go on a date. The smallest things can ignite your mind and create the perfect scenario for the creativity to flow.
Listening to other people’s conversations, seeing the wind blowing the leaves on a tree or watching something interesting can create the perfect environment for your mind to start churning ideas.
Exercise is another important tool to utilize – I go outside and walk or run when I’m in a bad block and it helps to clear my mind and create the perfect environment for me to write when I get home.
2) Change Your Writing Tool
Although it sounds simple, changing your writing tool could really help with writer’s block. If you usually write on a word processor, try using google docs or shutting it down and using a pen and paper.
Simple changes can even help with writer’s block. Try changing the font or changing the colour of the text. You’d be surprised with how the simplest change could change everything for your writing.
3) Change Your Environment
Changing your environment is invaluable for curing a block. Get away from the desk, or wherever you do your writing, and go elsewhere. Go to the library or a park. Try writing in a coffee shop and see if that helps – or go to a different coffee shop if you already write at one.
“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” – Hilary Mantel
Changing your environment can really help with the day by day monotony of sitting down at your desk and writing. It can help your brain to feel new creative ideas and defeat the block.
4) Create Challenges
If you feel like you’re dragging your feet day after day it might be time to challenge yourself. Try setting a deadline to complete a certain amount of words. Or even try adding fun things into your writing to make it a challenge.
Challenge yourself to create a certain situation, introduce a new metaphor into your current chapter, think of an everyday item and write it into your novel. It’s amazing how much you can get done by setting challenges for yourself and trying to meet those challenges.
Writing prompts and exercises are amazing strategies to use to challenge yourself. If I am really stuck, I look at a writing prompt and then write to that – it’s a fun challenge that helps get the creative process moving.
5) Write Something Else
“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”– Charles Bukowski
It can be hard to write the same story every day. Sometimes you need to blow off some steam and write something else. Check out a writing prompt and write a new story to that, or scribble down some simple ideas.
Think of a tv show or game you love and try your hand at fanfiction or write a short story. Getting your mind off the current story at hand can help you when you go back to it – you might have new ideas or be able to write a whole heap at once!
6) Work on Your Characters or Map Out Your Novel
“Breaking through writer’s block is like thinking out of the box: Both require an ability to imagine a world outside your four walls or rearranging them to get a better view.”– Susan J. McIntire
If you’re stuck, sometimes it helps to map out your characters or your novel. You need clearly defined characters for a novel, and sometimes using character development exercises can help to renew your creativity.
Try mapping out who your character is or think about how they would respond to different situations.
Mapping out your novel can also help with renewing your creativity. Work on a simple outline and map out what kind of trajectory your novel will take. If you map it out, you might find that your mind starts to figure out how to continue the story and overcome the block.
7) Eliminate Distractions
Distractions are so numerous in our day and age. Phones buzz, emails appear, and YouTube always has videos of funny cats to watch. It can be hard to stay focused with the numerous distractions around.
It’s hard sometimes to summon the willpower to stay focused. Sometimes you need to unplug from the internet and turn off your phone, focusing all your attention on the writing.
Ask your friends and family to not message you for a certain period of time or write at a time that they won’t distract you.
Sometimes you may need a little helping hand, and there are so many websites and applications now that will block sites and notifications and force you to just write.
8) Do Something Else
I said previously that getting outside was a great way to break writer’s block. However, you don’t always have to leave the house. Simply doing something else can help you to overcome the block.
Make a scrapbook, paint, mess around on social media or read a book. Do something else that stops you from thinking about the novel for a time. You need to give yourself time to get distracted and take a break from writing.
Pick a random movie on Netflix and watch it the whole way through. Talk to a friend on the phone or chat with your family members. Cook a meal or take a shower – the simplest activities will give your mind a break and time to rejuvenate.
9) Create a Routine
“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”– Jack London
I am a big lover of routine. I set my alarm at a certain time every morning, I map out each of my days and I have a time block to write. I find you need to set habits in order to become as creative as possible.
Find a time that works for you, whether it be night like me, morning or even during the day. Find when your creativity is highest and set that as your writing time.
If you make writing a habit, you will eventually be successful with your writing. Writing takes practice and you need to ensure that you write each and every day in order to improve and continue writing.
“Discipline allows magic. To be a writer is to be the very best of assassins. You do not sit down and write every day to force the Muse to show up. You get into the habit of writing every day so that when she shows up, you have the maximum chance of catching her, bashing her on the head, and squeezing every last drop out of that bitch.”– Lili St. Crow
10) Just Write
It might sound simple, but it really is a fantastic way to break a block. You may be staring at a blank page for some time but remember this tip and just start writing. Whatever comes to your mind, write it down.
It can be hard to write through a block, but it works. If you have a muscle cramp, you stretch it. If your brain is cramping, you need to stretch it and just start writing. Put one word after another and just write.
“Don’t waste time waiting for inspiration. Begin, and inspiration will find you.”– H. Jackson Brown Jr.
Is there anything you do to break writer's block?