I’m often asked how I deal with the dreaded Writer’s Block, and if it’s even a “thing.”
Well, I’ve heard lots of writers say that if you have an outline and a plan, you’ll never suffer from Writer’s Block. From my experience, I would say that isn’t quite right. With a detailed outline you might not lose direction, but sometimes being blocked is more about how smoothly dialog is going—or not going, as the case may be. It may be more about making your story more realistic or imaginative. Maybe it’s about just seeing things with focused eyes. So here are a few suggestions to try if you find the juices have stopped flowing.
1- Take a walk. Sometimes a little fresh air and physical activity is all that’s needed to get your brain tuned in to your characters.
2- Take a nap. Your mind and body may be over-stressed and in dire need of recuperation. It happens; don’t be afraid of rest.
3- Eat something healthy. Fuel is important. Grab an apple and use the snack as an exercise for your senses. Focus on how it tastes, how it sounds as you bite into it, how it smells, how it looks, and how it feels—not only in your hand, but on your tongue. Little things sometimes trigger big thoughts.
4- Read something someone else wrote. Remember that stack of books on your nightstand? Grab one and start it. Find inspiration in the beauty of another author’s work.
5- Listen to music. Pull up that playlist and dance around the room for 20 minutes. It’s fun, and will send that oxygen straight to your brain.
6- Write something completely different. If you write fiction, take time out to write a blog post. Or even try your hand at something completely new. Try a flash fiction exercise, with 300 words or less.
7- Think about what’s really causing the problem. Is it the subject of your work, or is it the “don’t wannas?” If it’s a particular theme or subject, meditate for a few minutes on why that might be a problem for you. Is it a subject you avoid in your daily life. Example: Your main character and father having a conversation, when that may be something you struggle with in reality. Find the prickly stuff and write that. You don’t have to leave it in, but you might discover something amazing if you do.
8- Pull your characters out of the scene you’re writing, and write them into a scene that might bring out different emotions. Trap them in an elevator. Have aliens interrogate them. Make them sing karaoke. Whatever you think might work. Get to know your characters better, and you’ll hear their voices more fluidly.
9- Establish a writing routine, and make it a little bit weird. Before you begin writing each day, grab your coffee, put on your Chopin, say ‘hi’ to your little elephant figurine, and spin your chair around once. Doing these things (or whatever quirky things you must do) when you feel inspired can help trigger inspiration on the days when you’re dragging. It’s a little like muscle-memory. And it works.
10- When all else fails, write anyway. Write badly. Write something so terrible that you’ll have no choice but to fix it later. You’re going to edit anyway, so get your word-count in and call it a day. Fake it ‘til you make it. Writers write. It’s what you do. Remind yourself that this is what you LOVE.