Some people don’t believe writer’s block is a real thing. Others think it is a serious ailment. I believe that writer’s block is all in your head (but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real). Writer’s block is a narrowing of focus, it is too much of one thing, or too much of forcing the creative brain to the point that you have tunnel vision. I believe that it is something that one can overcome with some creative exercises to get the juices flowing again. So lets get FLOWIN’!
Write Something You Don’t Care About
To cure writer’s block or to keep myself writing even when I’m between projects, I will use daily writing prompts. I will find one that piques my interest and just write.
It’s not turning into a novel or script, no one is ever going to see it, I’m not invested in it, and so I feel free to write. And, whether it’s terrible or actually kinda good, at least I WROTE. And just doing that can be helpful. It can get you back into the flow you need to work on your project and just write and not worry about the good or the bad.
Stop Writing and Just Think
Now, some of you may think that this is the opposite of helpful. “I’ve already stopped writing, that’s the problem!” Okay, calm down for a minute and listen. Sometimes, sitting down at your notebook or computer, pounding your head for ideas can be the absolute worst way to come up with them. You’re not allowing your brain the freedom to be creative.
When I’m having trouble thinking of ideas or solving a problem in my story, I take note to keep it on my mind all day. So, when I’m walking through the mall, when I’m driving to work, when I’m in the shower, I am thinking about it and ideas will often come. But, if they don’t, don’t get angry with yourself. The creative mind thrives with curiosity and freedom to roam. If you’re stuck at a specific part in your story, think about the possible character motivations, think about all the different possibilities of that scene. Giving yourself relaxed, prolonged, and genuinely curious time to mull over your story can produce the most sincere and exciting ideas.
Brainstorm with a Buddy
When I get stuck, the first person I turn to is T.S. Rather (T). She’s been my writing buddy for years and she can almost always help me untangle my problems.
Like I said, I believe that writer’s block is similar to tunnel vision, and when you’ve got tunnel vision, it helps to get another perspective. More times than I can count, I’ve come to T with a problem and she’s immediately given me a solution that was so obvious I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it myself. Hence my tunnel vision. And, even if her solution isn’t the exact right one, it opens my mind to the possibilities and helps me get thinking again with a fresh perspective.
So, what if your buddy doesn’t immediately give you the answer? That’s totally fine and absolutely normal. They can still help you get thinking outside of the box which is really what needs to be done
Sometimes when I find myself stuck, researching can really help for one of two reasons. 1. The reason I’m stuck is because I am missing facts, pieces of plot, or character info. 2. Researching can get me excited and get my brain working in a different way which refreshes me enough to begin writing again.
When I say research, I don’t only mean research. Sure, you could look into how exactly a CAT scan works or how long it would take someone to die from a gunshot to the gut. But I am also talking about any information that is in the background of your story. Which includes character history, character names, world building, culture, story planning, relationship building, etc etc. I could go on forever.
As I mentioned above, one reason that you could be struggling with writer’s block is because you are missing fundamental knowledge that you need to move forward confidently in your story. And so, perhaps you need to go back to your outline or your notes and rehash them, or figure them out in greater detail. Perhaps your plot is not lining up as you thought it would now that you are fleshing it out.
You could also be struggling with character’s that are lacking motivation. So, now you feel like you’re just meandering through a story that has lost its tension and drive. Go back to your characters and give them goals, solidify their backstory, put more obstacles and/or goal building scenes in their way.
Or, you could just be missing actual research knowledge, and so then you’re writing about something that you’re not sure about. Take the time to research that subject so that you can continue writing confidently.
Change of Scenery
Sometimes I just need a breather, a change of pace, something different. But I still want to work on my story. So, I turn to my notes. Planning your story is never really finished, so it’s easy to go back and fill more in. Solidify some back stories, name some side characters, plan your ending more in depth, fact check. If you’re world building there is SO so much that you can work with that, perhaps, may never even make it into your finished product but can be very fun and refreshing to work on. Just beware of info dumping. You don’t want to create all of this background stuff and then feel the need to dump it all in your story even where it doesn’t fit.
I’ll be honest, using music is not my thing, but I know that it can be helpful to lots of people! Music in general could give you the energy or motivation to write or think about your writing. What I’ve heard most often is to use video game music. It is meant to ‘encourage focus’ and ‘keep you engaged’ and so can be really useful for writing. I’ve also heard of people creating playlists for certain characters, scene types, or genres that they’re working on.
T just recently suggested some non-lyrical music for me to try out. Lyrics are what distract me. I have a hard time thinking when words from the song are pounding into my head. She suggested Two Steps from Hell and Ludovico Einaudi. I’m excited to give it a try as a new exercise in writing.
Sometimes it can be as simple as changing up your process a bit. Have you been writing on paper? Try writing on your computer. Are you used to typing? Then try handwriting for a while. Exercise your brain a little, get a taste of something new. Sometimes a simple change can make all the difference.
Do You Really Have Writer’s Block?
Perhaps I should have asked this question first, but I trust that you guys can tell if it’s really writer’s block or not. But, I had to cover this possible pitfall.
Sometimes, I find that I have the hardest time just making myself sit down and write. But, if I just do it, I can write fine. It’s not writer’s block, it’s literally just me not writing.
There are so many distractions. Writing is hard. TV is tempting. I get it. But, don’t fail to move forward on your project under the guise of writer’s block just because it is easier.
Writing is rewarding. And, no matter how much pain it has caused you, you know you love it 🙂 So, write on!