Writer’s block can be a frustrating experience. You want to write, but you feel like there are no ideas inside of you. It is as if your creativity has been sucked out of your brain as you stare at the blank, empty, mocking pages of your notebook or your screen.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to stay that way! This blog outlines 12 ways to beat writer’s block, to guide you back into the writing world and reset your creative mind!
1) Change Your Environment
Writer’s block can often be attributed to your surroundings. So if you are feeling stuck, it might help to change your environment a bit. Maybe go for a walk while listening to a motivating podcast, sit in a different room or rejig your office/workspace by rearranging furniture/artwork/plants/books etc. Sometimes all it takes is a fresh outlook to jump-start your creativity!
2) Change Your Routine
If the problem is that you are stuck in a writing (or non-writing!) rut, try changing up your routine. For example, if you always write at night, try writing in the morning. Or, if you always sit at your desk, try dictating your ideas while doing something else – taking a bath, cleaning or walking the dog. Sometimes just a small change can help get the ideas flowing!
3) Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
It’s important to remember that it’s okay to write some not so great stuff when you are working on breaking through your writer’s block. The point is to keep writing and letting the ideas flow. You can always go back and revise what you’ve written later. Even if only a sentence or two is worth salvaging, it’s better than nothing at all.
4) Try Different Techniques
Different techniques work for different creatives. For example, some writers are more visual and need to picture the scene in their head before writing about it. Some writers use many adjectives when describing a character’s appearance or emotions. Others may outline the bare minimum. Other writers might prefer vocalising an idea aloud and then writing it down on paper, or a spreadsheet, or using post-its. Some writers like to deconstruct other stories to create a framework for their own. Don’t be afraid to experiment to find techniques that work well for your own creative process.
5) Set Realistic Goals
It is crucial to set realistic goals for yourself when trying to overcome writer’s block. Don’t try to write (or edit!) a novel in one sitting, one week, one month or even one year if you know you’re going to set yourself up to fail. Instead, start with smaller, realistic goals and gradually work your way up, or steadily along. 500 words per day, 5 days per week, is more sustainable than committing to 3,000 words per day, every day, for a shorter amount of time. Focus on the quality not the quantity! This will help ease the pressure you are feeling and make it easier for you to start writing.
6) Disregard Work That Is Not Up To Your Standards
Following on from focusing on quality not quantity, if you have written a large piece and feel unhappy about it, it is okay to disregard it altogether. This might be hours or days or even weeks of work, but sometimes it is good to pursue an idea fully to realise that it was not a good one in the end. This will also get your creative juices flowing. Sometimes, while you are writing a work in progress that you are not feeling, you come up with unique ideas about what you do want to write about. On The Honest Authors podcast, Sunday Times’ bestselling author Gillian McAllister often talks about binning large chunks of the first drafts of her novels if they’re not working, which works for her!
7) Declutter And Organize Your Workspace
One way to help beat writer’s block is to declutter and organise your workspace. A cluttered and messy desk can distract you and make it difficult to focus on writing. Take time to ‘tidy’ your computer – clear your desktop and rename your files to make everything easier to find if you need to. You can rename a whole batch of files simultaneously to save you time and energy. Go to https://setapp.com/how-to/batch-rename-files for easy assistance or how to rename a batch of files.
Another way to organise your desk is to use different colours or patterns of notebooks or paper folders (perhaps in your author brand colours if you have them?). This will help you locate information you need quickly and easily. You can also use labels or post-it notes to mark important pages in your book(s) or hard copy (or copies) of your manuscript(s).
8) Keep a Notepad Handy
An author’s best friend: notebooks! It’s helpful to keep notepads handy in every room, so if you get an idea while doing something else or even in the middle of the night, you can write it down instead of trying to remember it. Alternatively, the notes app on your phone is also brilliant for when those creative thoughts suddenly appear, whether fully formed stories or mere snippets. This will help free up your mind and make space for new ideas. Just remember to collate all your scribbled/typed ideas frequently!
9) Get Moving!
When you’re feeling blocked, one of the best things you can do is get your body moving. Exercise releases endorphins and gets your blood flowing, which can help clear your mind and jump-start your creativity; if you have time for a full workout, great! If not, even just a lap round the house or the block can help. A ‘deskercise‘ routine can also ease those stiff spines and numb legs from sitting for too long, so remember to move your body no matter what!
10) Spend Some Time With Someone Who Inspires You
One of the best ways to beat writer’s block is to spend some time with someone who inspires you. This could be a friend, family member, or even an acquaintance. When you’re around someone who makes you feel good and is full of energy, it can help to jump-start your creativity. For example, you might find that when you’re around a friend who makes funny and lighthearted jokes, it can help to keep your mood elevated. Alternatively/additionally, the online writing community is a great source of inspiration, and accessible for everyone. Personally, I greatly admire Joanna Penn, Sacha Black, Daniel Willcocks, Paul Teague and Mark Dawson. Seek out the people who make you feel motivated and that you can do it too!
11) Start With The Middle Or End
If you struggle to write the beginning, start in the middle or at the end. This can help jump-start your creativity and get something down on the page. No set of rules determines you have to start at the beginning. Sometimes it is easier to figure out what you would like the end to be and work your way back. This can help you get over the mental hurdle of writer’s block.
Working on different projects simultaneously sometimes helps to pass the time. This can also be helpful if you have a few ideas for other pieces and don’t want to forget them. For example, maybe you start writing a blog post and then get stuck after the first few sentences. You can quickly switch over to working on another project so your brain doesn’t have time to dwell on why it is giving you problems. As mentioned in Change Your Routine above, multitasking also works well when doing housework, or decorating, or anything that isn’t highly intellectually taxing. For example, it’s absolutely possible to clean the kitchen or paint a room and think about your story at the same time.
Now that you have 12 ways to beat writer’s block, why not try some of them out? Don’t be afraid to give up if something isn’t working, and always take a step back to assess the situation before taking any new actions. Finally, don’t forget to have fun with your writing – after all, it should be enjoyable!
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