We all know it. We all hate it. I’m here today to talk about the dreaded writer’s block. It sucks. It makes you feel like you can’t do anything, if you’re anything like me, it makes you feel like a bit of a failure, and it certainly doesn’t get you any closer to accomplishing your writing goals (whatever they may be)!
But, I’ve gotten pretty good at fighting writer’s block over the years. Here are a few tips that I’ve come up with that might be helpful to other people. I know, there’s about a billion “beat writer’s block” blogs out there. I’m not saying that any one of these will guarantee that you start writing again, but they may give you an alternative to feeling bad/guilty/etc if you’re not able to get to your WIP on a given night.
Fair warning, too, that this is a bit of a read. I’ve put a bold header on all of the “tips” for easy skimming in case you’re on limited time, that way you can find the ones you think might work for you. 😛
Accept some days will be better than others
Sometimes you will write 5k a day. Sometimes you will write 50 words all day. I know you had a personal goal to write 500 words a day, but sometimes, you have to take care of you a little bit first. Sometimes, forcing yourself to write when you’re feeling unmotivated, uninspired, and while sometimes it can be worth it to push through to reach your goals, if the words aren’t coming, they’re just not going to. It’s okay to step away from your work for a little while and take a few hours – or even a whole day – off.
Have a “back-up” project
Sometimes you just get burned out on a project. Try to have something on the sidelines that you can work on until you’re feeling refreshed. If you’re writing something super intense, or something with a lot of characters/thought involved in it, maybe have something that’s just light and fluffy and cute (or like, something that doesn’t require the same level of thought) for when you want to write, but your WIP just isn’t working with you. That way you can still feel like you did something, while not slamming your head into a wall or screaming into the void searching for those words..
Make sure this “something” is NOT your WIP, though! If you get stuck in the loop of editing your WIP too much, you’ll end up holding yourself back trying to perfect what exists and you won’t ever get it finished.
This almost goes alonng the lines of the last tip – having a back up project. Sometimes, maybe you can’t put words on the page, but if you’ve recently finished something and sort of stored it away until you think of something to do with it/a place to submit it to, you can always go back and edit that a little bit. Whether it’s a read through, jotting down some notes, or tackling some tough edits, it can help you get your mind back into thinking about that main WIP.
I’ve found this works for some people, and not for others. I know some of you follow a pretty strict outline when writing (and that’s okay!), and that means this tip might not exactly work so well for you. If you don’t (or if you do and you want to try something new), just do some writing.
Maybe you have a character floating around in your head demanding your attention. Maybe you have a few scenarios for how a scene could play out to get to your next outlined bullet point. Maybe you just have no idea what you want to do. Just start typing and see what comes out of you. It may be garbage, something destined directly for your recycle bin (whether literally or digitally), but who knows, it might spark your creativity enough to bust out some WIP words!
Analyze Your Story
Try to find out what’s blocking you. Is there an action scene coming up and you’re just awful at writing them? Is one of your characters fighting with a decision and you’re not sure what to do? Are you conflicted because your outline says one thing, but your gut says another?
Failing that, analyze yourself. Are you overstressed? Tired? Hungry? Dehydrated? Dealing with some shit that’s potentially way more important than writing? Maybe you need a night off (AND THAT’S OKAY).
Remember that writing is a job. (Unless it’s not for you)
If writing is your go-to hobby and your work is something you do for fun, and just for fun, this tip probably isn’t for you.
With any job, sometimes we have to do it while we don’t necessarily want to. Maybe you don’t have a submission deadline, but if you get “blocked” and never finish anything, you’re never going to get to that dream of seeing your name on a book in a bookstore. And while that might be something else to pile onto your massive load of crap you already have to deal with, it’s something to legitimately think about. If you have dreams of one day quitting your boring, stupid day job, you’d better put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and get writing. Half-finished manuscripts aren’t going to get you published. Hard work and self-discipline will.
If you can’t write, take that time you’d spend writing and read something! Maybe you need to take a night off from slamming your head into your laptop/desk while trying to write. Do some reading. Reading is NEVER time wasted. Who knows, maybe something you read in a book will inspire that next part of your WIP!
This almost goes hand in hand with the last “tip.” Sometimes you just need to detach from your computer, or your pen, a little bit and let your hands do something else. Pull out one of those hobbies you haven’t touched since writing consumed your soul! Sketching/etc frees up your mind while keeping your hands busy.
Maybe, while you’re occupying your hands elsewhere, you can figure out that WIP! If not, you still have a cool thing you made with your hands, and maybe a fresh mind when you go back to your desk to write! I feel like that’s a win/win.