Simple Tricks to Deal with Writer's Block
If you talk to other writers about writer’s block, a fair number will say there’s no such thing. Writer’s block is just lack of planning; someone once told me. Another said writer’s block just means I’m not trying.
But if you’re not writing, you have writer’s block, and whether that’s caused by an uncomfortable chair, a lack of ideas, or fear of failure, the end result is the same—you’re not writing.
Ultimately, the reason you’re not writing doesn’t matter. The good news is there are things you can do to help your overall creativity and loosen whatever bonds have tied up your typing fingers. Start these today and you could be back to your novel, your weekly short story, or your poetry chapbook by the end of tomorrow.
Keep a daily journal. I recently went through two months without writing a thing. Every time I sat at my computer, I froze up and switched to social media instead. Finally, a friend suggested keeping a hand-written journal. At first, my entries were a banal exploration of my every early morning thought. But after a week, without even trying, I noticed myself writing story ideas and even a full story within the pages. Taking the pressure to perform off your writing lets your creativity rest and recover.
Tell yourself you deserve it. Daily affirmations might sound hokey, but there’s something to be said for waking up every day and screaming, “I deserve to write today!” into the darkness. It helps put you in the mindset that whatever time you take for your writing is valuable. Your writing is worth it and you deserve taking the time to do it.
Set a timer. Giving yourself twenty minutes to write can sometimes shake loose a few ideas that you can work on later. If you’ve been feeling pressure to finish a project, using a timer can help get through it, especially if you allow yourself a reward after each session.
Lift judgement. If you’re having trouble writing, give yourself the grace to suck. Not everything out of your mind has to be a masterpiece. Writing is sometimes like running scales on the piano. It isn’t Mozart, but it is necessary to limber your mind, your fingers, and your talent. Do writing exercises and don’t expect a certain outcome. Sometimes, our need to get everything right gets in the way of simply getting the words down. Just write. There’s always revision.
Do something different. If you write novels, try writing a flash fiction piece. If you write free-form poetry, try writing a villanelle. Write a country music song. Write a greeting card sentiment. Challenge yourself to write from a different point of view or to write without dialogue tags.
There are so many ways to approach breaking out of writing block. Taking time to read other people’s work, close-reading stories for craft elements, brainstorming questions about your characters, following a plot chart like the ones in StoryBilder—these are all great ways to fire up the writer brain. Practicing self-care can also help with creativity. I sometimes go for a walk or put on music and dance for five minutes or bring out the pencil crayons and do some coloring to open the creative floodgates.
If you’re ready to get back to writing, bust out your journal, free yourself from restrictions and get started. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
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