Urgh writers block. We’ve all been there, whether it was while we were writing for pleasure or for school. Eventually you may reach a point where the words don’t flow as easily as before or they may not even flow at all. It’s a common affliction known as Writer’s Block. It happens to all writers, of all skill levels, and varies in severity. But that doesn’t mean you have to just accept it! Here I’ve compiled ten ways to help you overcome writer’s block. Since every writer is different, every trick isn’t going to work for everyone. If one doesn’t help after you’ve given it a sufficient try, move on to another one. Try as many or as few as you like and hopefully one of these tips will help you get back into your writing groove!
Take a Break/Relax
Sometimes the best way to get back to writing again is to stop. Take a breather and relax. Stressing over your work may only make your block even worse. Try taking a step back. Watch some TV, read a book, take a walk, take a nap, just get your mind off your project and focused on something else. As a bonus, you may even find inspiration while on your break. Once you feel calm, try going back to your work. If you’re still drawing a blank try taking some more time away, perhaps with a different activity, or try another trick.
Write Something Else/Freewriting
If you find inspiration while being creative this trick may work for you. Try writing something completely separate from the piece that is giving you trouble. You could work on a different story, or just try writing a few short drabbles. You could also try editing other works of yours or someone else (betaing). Sometimes focusing on something new will give you a fresh perspective on the original piece.
You could also try something called Freewriting, which is just writing down anything and everything that comes to your mind. Set aside a specific amount of time, like ten minutes, and just write anything that pops into your head about your story. It doesn’t have to make sense, it doesn’t have to flow in any way, just write. Get all the thoughts in your head down on the paper or screen so that you can go through them after and move on. Even if what you think of isn’t directly related to your story, write that down too. Sometimes it will help just to get it out of your head and to acknowledge whatever you were thinking about. Once your time is up you can go through what you’ve written for useful ideas and incorporate them into your story.
No, I don’t mean exercise (though that may help some of you find your groove); I mean try working on a different part of your story. Stories are not always written in one straight line from beginning to end. It’s perfectly acceptable to start from the end and work your way back or start in the middle and go back and forth or any combination you wish. Try skipping the part that is giving you trouble and write what happens after. You can even go chapters ahead if you wish. Writing what comes next can give you better insight into what you want to lead up to that point. Remember, no one will know in the end what order you wrote your story in, so do whatever works best for you.
Enlist a Friend (or beta)
Sometimes you just need an outside perspective. Even though they won’t know what’s going on inside your mind, another person can give you valuable insight from an entirely different perspective. If you have a friend or a beta reader you feel comfortable sharing your story with send them a copy of what you have so far. Include a rough outline of any future ideas you would like to include in your story and wait for them to give you their interpretation of what’s going on and any suggestions they might have. Even if their suggestions end up going in a different direction than you had planned, the ideas might spark some inspiration.
If you can’t find anyone to share your story and ideas with you can always share them with yourself. Grab your phone or use a program on your computer if you have a mic and record yourself talking about your story. The only one who will hear the recording is you, so don’t be shy. Babble all your thoughts and ideas into the recording. Then play it back and write down the best ideas you hear in a more coherent fashion. This may work best if you take a day or two from when you record to when you listen. That way you give yourself a more neutral outlook since what you recorded isn’t fresh in your memory.
Ideas don’t only come to you when you’re sitting at your computer, so be prepared to take advantage of them anywhere. Always keep your phone or a small notebook with you wherever you go when you’re working on a story (or even if you aren’t; who knows when your next idea will strike). That way you can always jot down a new idea as it comes. Don’t let your next great idea be lost just because you were out at the store and not at your desk!
Write an Outline
Instead of writing your story like, well, a story, try writing it in an outline. Divide your story into sections and then divide those by what you want to occur in each section. List the plot points and information about the characters. Bullet point the major events. Note any specific dialogue you want to include. I’m talking bare bones here. Start with the skeleton of your story, and once you have that you can flesh it out with more information and actual storytelling. Sometimes breaking your ideas down into their simplest forms is the easiest way to figure out where you are headed and how best to get there.
Set a Schedule
For those of you who thrive on consistency, try setting up a writing schedule for yourself. Set aside a time every day to write and then show up and try. Even if you don’t end up writing anything the first few times, your mind will get used to the schedule and will eventually get with the program. Think of it this way: The first few times you had to get up at 6 am for school were hard, but eventually your body got used to the rhythm. The same thing will happen with a writing schedule. Your mind will accept that that is the time when writing takes place and will get used to writing then. Don’t force writing that won’t come, however, while you’re getting used to the schedule. Try combining this tip with others like writing an outline or freewriting to keep your mind used to the task.
Give Yourself a Deadline
Sometimes you need a reason to write to get over your writer’s block. Give yourself a timeframe to finish something, whether it be a chapter or a certain number of words. Then make yourself meet that deadline. This doesn’t mean stress yourself out immediately and force ideas to come, or procrastinate until the last minute, unless those methods work for you. Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to accomplish your goals and try to manage your time accordingly. Partnering up with a friend and helping each other enforce deadlines might be helpful too. Or have your beta keep you on track. That way you have an outside person to hold you accountable, who you know is expecting results, which some people can find motivating.
Change Your Scenery
No, not in your story, unless you think that would inspire you. Change where you write. If you have a desktop computer this is more difficult because you can’t just switch rooms like with a laptop, but try changing your environment in some way to make it more conducive to writing. Desk too messy? Clean it up before you try writing again. Desk too tidy? Muss it up a bit, add some warmth or hominess. Try to make your writing environment a calm, inspiring place, and not just a desk or chair where you write. Make it into your writing zone. Make sure you don’t end up turning this exercise into another form of procrastination, however; this tip should help you work more, not less.
Reread Your Old Stories
Go back and look at your favorite thing(s) you’ve ever written. It doesn’t matter if everyone else loved it, it only matters than you did. Reread it. Remember why you love it. Remember how you felt when you wrote it, when you finished it. Remember that you can write something just as good, if not better, because you wrote that. You’re still the same person with the same mind who came up with that story, and you can do it again. If anything you’ve probably learned some new tricks since you wrote that story. Give yourself a confidence boost and head back to your newest creation knowing that you can do it!
Written by Jess. Find her on Tumblr