Most writers suffer at some point from the evil little bug known as writer’s block. It gets in your head. It twists your thoughts and makes even the brightest gem look tarnished and cracked. In extreme cases, it is even manifested as an actual physical illness – symptoms include nausea, fatigue, sweating, trouble breathing and severe mood swings. It’s like the flu, but accompanied by feelings of inferiority, helplessness and stupidity.
Fear not. It can be beaten. Really.
Tip for Beating Writer’s Block #1 – Take a Break
It may sound crazy, but it works. If you take a break – be it two days or two months – the block will go away almost every time. Oftentimes, writer’s block is just your brain telling you that it needs a break, or at least several hours of sleep uninterrupted by worries about combing through plot tangles.
Tip for Beating Writer’s Block #2 – Work on One or Many Projects
Switch things up a bit. If you generally only work on one project, try working on many. Sometimes writer’s block is your brain tiring of working on the same old thing. Switching it up every day or even every few hours may help.
Alternatively, if you normally work on many projects, try working on one at a time. Your brain may be feeling overworked by the constant change of story and may be in need of a regular routine.
Tip for Beating Writer’s Block #3 – Change Mediums
I’m a laptop girl, myself, but when writer’s block sets in I immediately switch to pen. If you are a pen-and-paper writer, try working on a computer.
Also, if you’re a pen person and don’t have access to a computer, try switching ink colors or experimenting with different pens. When I get serious block, I write with my trusty quill pen and bright purple ink.
As with tip #2, changing the routine can stimulate the brain and provide a nice flow of creativity and ideas.
Tip for Beating Writer’s Block #4 – Move to a Different Space
If you hole up in your office when you write, try taking a notebook or laptop outside in the fresh air. If you curl up on the couch, try moving to your office or the library. Changing the setting can help untangle the mind and allow creative juices to flow.
Tip for Beating Writer’s Block #5 – Write Anyway
I’m not joking with this one, although many of my friends seem to think that this tip is funny. It’s not a joke, I promise you. It is possible to just write yourself through a bout of writer’s block. Sit down, stare that Word document or piece of paper down and just keep on trucking’.
Tip for Beating Writer’s Block #6 – Get a Critique
Writer’s block may come from feelings of inferiority. Believe me, it’s never as bad as you think it is. If you’re still convinced that your writing sucks eggs, get a critique from an experienced writer. They will tell you if your work is good or not, and if it needs work they can help you look for ways to improve it.
Tip for Beating Writer’s Block #7 – Read a Book
I’m guilty of forgetting to read other books when I get into the thick of writing my own novel. I find that if I take the time to read another book, my brain stops running around in circles and I am able to go back to the computer refreshed and willing to work.
I suggest reading something different then the type of genre that you write. I am a young adult fantasy writer, and I began reading J.D. Robb’s In Death series during my last bit of writer’s block, which is very different than anything I would write. It got me over my writer’s block, and fast.
Alternatively, you can try reading something similar to the type of books that you write to see how the masters do it.
Tip for Beating Writer’s Block #8 – Free-Write
Set aside your current work-in-progress and free-write. Just recently I sat down with a blank piece of notebook paper and wrote the first words that popped into my head. I ended up with a story idea to file away for later. Who knows, you may find a project that you love even more than your current one. At the very least, it will put the brain in a writing mood.
Tip for Beating Writer’s Block #9 – Make a Playlist
Many authors make playlists for their books, made up of songs that fit certain scenes or the overall mood of the novel itself. They can be two songs, twenty songs, or even two-hundred songs. I find that listening to a song that echoes the mood of my work really gets my mind working.
Tip for Beating Writer’s Block #10 – Get Physical
Many writers get so engrossed in their work that they forget to get up and MOVE! Put aside your project, get up and run around in a big circle. Chase your hyperactive toddler, if you have one. Get out those dusty workout videos and work through them. Ride a bike. Take a walk. Give that body the exercise that it craves. Many times, writer’s block is your body telling you that it needs a workout.
Writer’s block is not an easy thing to beat, but it is possible. If all else fails, quit writing and become a sheep farmer. Of course, you’re awesome and your writing kicks butt, so you shouldn’t even need to consider that!