Last week, I wrote about some of the reasons why we experience writer’s block. With those in mind, here are some ideas on how to conquer it.
As I see it, there are two basic ways to deal with writer’s block. The first is to attack it head-on. The second is to retreat and regroup, so to speak. Within each of these strategies are several other strategies that can be employed.
The basic philosophy of attacking wb is to overwhelm the block by writing anyway, and understanding that the writing may not be your best, but it will be beneficial eventually. If you haven’t spent enough time in your book, then you may suffer from wb because you’ve been away from it too long. The best solution, then, is to spend as much time as you can in your book. Here are some ways to do that:
- Write an outline–If you don’t know where your story is going, take some time to try to rough out an outline, even if you’re not an outline style writer. The act of thinking ahead will help you realize where you should be headed and how to get there.
- Write disconnected scenes–If you’re having trouble understanding where your characters are coming from, write some scenes from their perspectives that will not appear in the book. This will help you better understand them and help you to figure out how they would react in certain situations, or even clue you in on what situations to put them in to get the most bang for your buck.
- Write something else–Sometimes you just get tired of your book. Take a break from it, but make sure you’re still writing something. Sometimes, absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
- Brainstorm or collaborative brainstorm–ask yourself pointed questions about your story and/or your characters. Better yet, enlist the help of a friend. Give them a call and say, “Can I talk to you about my story?” Sometimes someone on the outside will have a clearer vision of what you’re developing than you will.
- Research something that you’re working on. The process of finding new information on your subject can help give you that extra boost you need to finally hurdle over even the worst case of wb.
The basic idea of retreating and regrouping is to combat burn-out. Perhaps you’ve just been doing too much lately, and not just writing. Your life is crazy busy and you can’t seem to focus on a fictional world when reality presses in around you on all sides. Here are some ways that can help:
- Go for a run (or a walk, if that’s more your speed)–physical activity helps stimulate the mind and can help you come up with amazing ideas you never would have thought of sitting behind your computer monitor. Also, being outside in the fresh air and experiencing the tangible world of senses around you will help you write with more imagery (hopefully).
- Take a bath (or a hot shower, if that’s your thing)–the key here is to relax, get those knots out of your muscles, focus on something other than your writing. Writing can be an intensive process, and if we over do it, it can take quite a bit out of us and wear us out.
- Take a nap–maybe you just need some good quality sleep. A 15 min power nap might help recharge your batteries.
- Read something (or watch something, or listen to something, or look at something–bottom line, immerse yourself in art. Art inspires art. Grab a book of poems, or the latest thriller novel you’ve been dying to read. read your Bible (tons of great inspiration in there). Go to a museum. Look at paintings and photography. Listen to your favorite music. While you do so, see what ideas you come up with that you can include in your story.
There’s a few ideas in a nutshell. They’re the ones that tend to work for me. Just remember, no matter how bad your block is, you’ll get through it eventually, and, more often than not, the writing that comes AFTER it is great.