The arch nemesis of all writers. It strikes without warning.
It leaves you staring at your screen, paralyzed, for minutes, hours, MONTHS (sob) at a time.
You could be writing the next great novel, a school essay, an email, or even a text message.
Can you guess what I’m talking about?
Oh, all right, the title gave it away. It’s writer’s block.
We all know what it is. We all know how to avoid it (in theory).
And yet, it happens to EVERY single writer I know. You could be writing your first book or your millionth book. You could be unpublished or a New York Times Bestselling Author.
I have a confession to make. I’m writing about this topic today for my own benefit.
If you follow me on social media, you may know that I’ve been on a writing hiatus for the past couple months. I recently shared the great news that I’m pregnant (yay!) and expecting my first baby in June 2019.
During my first trimester, I was VERY sick and I spent most of my time in an exhaustion-and-nausea-induced stupor. As a result, I haven’t written a single word.
… At least that’s what I’ve been telling everyone.
In reality, that’s not the reason I haven’t been writing. The real reason is because every time I open Scrivener, I stare at the screen for an hour before I finally close my laptop and walk away.
I’ve been stuck on the same scene for months, you guys. MONTHS.
I know you guys feel my pain. You’ve probably been there before.
Despite knowing all the “textbook” ways to kick writer’s block to the curb, I still find myself staring at the same sentence I wrote in September.
So! I’m writing this blog post in the hopes that one of these hacks will give me the kick in the butt I need to get writing again!
I have a goal to finish this never-ending draft and have first edits finished by the time Baby Girl comes in June. In order to do that, I’m going to have to actually write some words at some point.
With that said, let’s do this.
Here we go!
1. Nip Perfectionism In The Bud
Perfectionism isn’t a bad thing. It helps you strive to be a better writer. But sometimes, in the creative stage, it can paralyze you. If you’re constantly worried about making sure your draft is right the first time, you may find that you’re having a hard time finishing the draft at all. Try separating your writing and editing stages. Make it a policy not to re-read your draft until you’ve reached “The End.” Release the pressure you’re putting on yourself and lock your self-editor in the closet until you’re ready for him!
2. Acknowledge Your Fears
Often, writer’s block is caused by fear. What are you afraid of? Are you afraid you’re not good enough? Afraid of what others will say about your work? Afraid that the story isn’t living up to its full potential? It’s okay. It’s normal, and we’ve all been there. Acknowledge what you’re afraid of, and realize that fear isn’t a bad thing. If anything, it makes you work even harder, and hard work leads to success.
The takeaway? Fear = Success. Now get writing!
3. Phone A Friend
If you’ve been trying to think your way out of a problem in your writing and you’re not getting anywhere fast, try asking a friend for help. I use my husband for this. Just sit them down and explain what you’re writing and why you got stuck. Often, the act of thinking through the scene and explaining it to another person can crack the wall standing between you and inspiration. And, hey, your partner may even have some good ideas to bring to the table!
4. Create Something Else
Have you pursued any other creative outlets lately? Get those creative juices flowing! Color a picture, rearrange a room in your house, paint a picture, or organize your closet. Give your brain a break from that writing creativity and let yourself focus on something else.
5. Change It Up
Sometimes the easiest way to break out of your writing rut is to change your routine. Do you normally write in your office? Write on the back patio or in a coffee shop instead. Write in the morning instead of at night. Listen to different music. Try writing in a notebook instead of on your laptop. The point here is to change your routine in the hopes that it will break something loose and give you some inspiration!
6. Start In The Middle
Or the end. Or anywhere else except where you’re stuck. If you’re stuck on a certain scene, skip ahead and write a scene you’ve already thought about. Once you get in the groove, you may find that you know exactly how to resolve the problem with the scene you’re stuck on.
7. Write Something Else
Sometimes your work in progress just needs to marinate a little longer. Keep yourself in the writing habit by writing something else instead. If you’re working on another project, spend some time on that one. If you’re a one-project kind of writer, try doing some free-writing on back story for the world or one of the characters. This will keep you in the world you’re writing in, but you won’t be trapped by your current plot problems.
8. Take A Break
If you’ve been forcing yourself to stare at the blank screen every day with nothing to show for it, consider taking a break. Let things marinate and see what happens. Maybe your brain just needs a little longer to resolve the plot problems. There’s nothing wrong with that -- just don’t let your break go on for too long!
9. Get Moving
Sometimes all it takes is a little activity to get your mental gears churning. Try going for a walk or going for a swim - whatever you like to do to get your body moving. Let your subconscious work on your story for a bit. When you come back, you may find that the writer’s block has vacated the premises!
10. Surprise Yourself
Inspiration is a strange, mysterious thing. We don’t know what sparks it, but new experiences are a pretty good guarantee! Do something that scares you. Go see a random movie. Read a book in a new genre. Visit a friend you haven’t seen in a long time. Do the unexpected.
Long story short, writer's block doesn't have to get the best of you! There are lots of easy hacks that you can use to kick it to the curb. If one doesn't work, try another!
If you’ve made it this far, thank you! I hope you’ve found this list as inspiring as I have.
I can already think of a few things I’m going to try so I can break myself out of this writing funk.
Let's get out there, and GET WRITING!
That being said, I’d love to hear from you! Are there any hacks you use that I missed? Share them in the comments below! Let’s get a conversation going.