How to Fight Writer’s Block
Do you have writer’s block? People sometimes stare at a blank page or computer screen and can’t seem to get the words out no matter how hard they try. Has this happened to you?
Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. This is a common situation. The good news is, there are solutions.
Outline your ideas
If you can’t make forward progress on your book, it could be that you’re not ready to write the next section. Personally I cannot write any substantial piece without outlining first. Make sure you know where you’re heading. It could be that the “block” is simply your common sense saying that you’ve headed in the wrong direction. If the words don’t fly off the keyboard, go back and make sure you’re on board with the flow of the story.
If you started your book without an outline and can’t seem to continue, go back a step and put together an outline immediately. It will help. You may discover that the last few chapters weren’t meant to be. That’s okay. Scrap them and start afresh from the point where you feel the story worked. Then follow the path of your outline and things should straighten out.
Force yourself to write something, anything
If you’ve outlined and know where you’re going, but just don’t “feel like writing” then you may need to prime the pump. Just like with a dry water pump (which needs to be “primed” with water to get started), you may benefit from simply flowing words onto paper.
Here are some ideas:
- Write emails to your friends
- Make a to-do list for the next day
- Write in a journal (or create one if you haven’t already)
- Start a blog
- Write posts on your favorite social media site
- Write an old fashion letter to a family member
It really doesn’t matter what you write, so long as you write. Remember, writers write.
Work on a completely different project
If you are anything like me, you have multiple writing projects going at the same time. I usually work with a few clients, who require books of different genres. Also, as a hobby I write haiku and science fiction short stories. Having different projects working at the same time keeps me on my toes. I like it that way.
If you’re stuck in the middle of a novel, try writing a nonfiction piece. If you are working on a technical report and are experiencing writer’s block, take a break and write dialogue between two co-workers. Create a scene, which might turn into a short story.
When you feel you’re doing well again, switch back to the original project and get writing again.
Surround yourself with supportive people
Writer’s block can be a symptom of invalidation from peers. If you have “helpful” friends who jokingly tell you “don’t quit your day job,” this can be damaging to you as a writer. The only purpose of such comments is to get you to stop writing. Don’t seek advice from these people. Surround yourself with good people who have your best interests at heart, people who want to see you succeed.
This isn’t to say that constructive criticism isn’t very helpful to a new (or even an experienced) writer. We can always improve and grow. I personally LOVE it when some kind soul writes in to tell me I have a typo in a blog article or gives me tips on my writing. It’s quite wonderful!
Look at the intention behind the comment and how it makes you feel. That will help guide you where to file the suggestion. Do they compliment your work, while gently pointing out errors? Or do they slam you at every turn?
Please check out my article on feedback versus criticism for more information.
If you need advice or help in the area of writer’s block, please don’t hesitate to email me!