I’ve discussed writer’s block (as well as story block) in previous posts. However, it’s been a while, and I thought it was time to revisit to update it. Writer’s block is one of those things that affects just about every writer at one time or another. It’s not a trend that miraculously goes away. It may strike at any given time, and when it does, it is one of the most frustrating things to happen. For that reason, I find it always helpful to read articles or find tips on how to deal with it. Some tips may seem like common sense while others may seem generic. Others are overly stated.
Each day that I write, I discover new lessons and tips. My latest WIP has been a struggle for me. It’s because I’m challenging myself to go beyond what I’m used to doing. Anytime something new is tried, there will be growing pains. For me, this has led to many instances of writer’s block and story block. When none of the methods I knew to work appeared to be working for me, I went internet searching for new tips/advice. Unfortunately, most of what I found was years old. So, I did what I do best and I phoned my writer friends and began asking them what are their methods for working through writer’s block.
- Don’t panic. Most times writer’s block is a short phase that writers must get through. Accept it for what it is—a phase. It will not last forever. However, increasing anxiety about having writer’s block will only intensify it and make getting rid of it that much more difficult.
- Having perspective is the most useful tool a person can have in solving any problem. When it comes to writer’s block, writers should understand that they are not alone. This happens to many writers; therefore, it is not something that is unique to you as a writer. In many ways, having writer’s block at some point in time is a normal part of the writing process/cycle. It may even happen more than one. It’s like a bad cold or allergies. You catch it and are annoyed by it for a period of time until it resolves itself. Sometimes, all that can be done is to wait until it passes. But while you wait, you should still take care of yourself and do the writing things having writer’s block isn’t interfering with (e.g., designing cover art, writing the glossary or acknowledgment, creating a marketing plan, etc.). There is no shame in experiencing writing block.
- Identify the cause of the lack of inspiration/motivation. Remember your goal. Have you ever been gotten frustrated in the middle of doing something and stopped to ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” If the answer to that question is a valid/motivating one, likely will continue. For example, if you’re dealing with a person who is particularly nasty to you if the reason for working with that person.
- Return to the beginning. If you have begun writing but have found yourself stuck, go back to the beginning of the story and see if there are any major flaws or issues that is tripping up the writing the remainder of the story.
- Take a short break to give the mind a rest and time to regain creativity. When I have lots of events happening that are predominating my thoughts, I’m not very capable of writing. My mind keeps wandering away from my story. Sometimes, I stop what I’m doing to complete the thing that is weighing on my mind. For example, if I’m worried about whether or not I’ll get my blog written in time, I may stop to write a blog post. Once that is done, I’m no longer focused on having to strike that from my to-do list. However, be careful here that the break isn’t indefinite. However, taking a day or a week may be beneficial. The thing to keep in mind here is any deadlines that will need to be met.
- Work on something different. Maybe your brain needs a break not from writing in general but just from a particular project. When I’m working on a story and get stuck, sometimes, I set the story aside and write my blog instead. This is productive in a couple of ways. One, it allows me to regroup and brainstorm my WIP some more. Two, I have to get my blog written anyway. I simply switch the times. Then, when the time I’d planned to work on my blog rolls around, I work on my WIP instead. The time where I may have writer’s block (which is actually more accurately described as story block in this instance) is wasted doing nothing is focused on producing content for my blog.
- Get the endorphins pumping. Endorphins give a person energy. The more energized the brain, the more creative it can be. Now, there are numerous ways to increase endorphins. An obvious way is exercising. However, this does not mean a person has to run a marathon or swim ten thousand laps in an Olympic sized pool. Exercising could be taking the dog for a walk or spending an evening dancing with friends. For some (although I don’t know who) brisk house cleaning. Basically, any activity that will get you moving can increase endorphins.
- is to gain a huge promotion at work, you may find your way to push through the project. Likewise, if you have set an end goal to your writing which is important to you, remembering that goal may alleviate your writer’s block.
- Be consistent. I know this will sound odd coming from me—someone who hates adhering to routine but is a creature of habit. Yeah, I know. How can the two co-exist? Well, it works something like this. I may have ten things on my to-do list, and each one of those ten things is broken into parts that I do in a particular order. While I may do the individual subparts of tests in a ritualistic way, I may perform the individual tasks in random order. I like to explain it as having organized chaos. It makes sense to me but no one else. The point is that writers must get in a habit of writing. Does this mean a writer must write every day? Only if that is what works for that writer. I have days when writing is not possible, and I don’t stress over those days. But not being consistent about writing can lead to writer’s block. For one, a writer may forget parts of the story written and have to spend days reading just to get back to writing. Another thing, writing for the sake of writing is useless if what is being written is crap. I hear writers bragging that they have written 5,000 words, and 4,999 of those words get cut from the WIP. A famous writer said it very well when she expressed that writing was her business. She does not have time to invest in writing things that she will have to throw away. She has deadlines. And if she wastes time throwing away content, she will not meet her deadlines.
- Relaxation techniques. Ensure that you’re mentally in a space to write. This goes along with some of the other tips. If your mind is preoccupied, how can you write? Take some time to clear out your mind so that your only focus will be on writing.
- Do not try to write the first draft to perfection. It’s a draft. There will time to edit, correct, and polish later. Even if the story sounds terrible, if the plot is solid and the voice strong, it is a durable story. Continue plugging at it. Trying to perfect all the details and every aspect in a first draft will bog you down to the point that you will be incapable of writing. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. In writing, create your foundation/structure first. Frame it and lay the bricks. Worry about the paint color and furniture later.
- Perhaps, a writer is experiencing true writer’s block where he/she just can’t come up with an idea or topic to write about. In this case, the writer must find inspiration. Inspirations can come from songs, movies, books, art, and just about anything. Now, when I say get ideas from these other mediums, I do not mean ripping them off. It was years after watching the cult-classic Clueless that I was informed it took inspiration from the Jane Austen novel, Emma, despite having read the book. I wasn’t the only one in my circle who didn’t make the connection. One reason for the lack of connection is due to the change in time period, language, and additional subplots. And while the characters shared many similarities, there were not carbon copies of each other. Also, it may be some small, overlooked detail in what is seen or read that is the starting point for a new novel. The takeaway point here is to pay attention to the environment in order to be able to draw inspiration.
- Limit distractions. A huge distraction for me is the internet. It used to be Pinterest, but I put myself on a band. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I spend a lot of time there, more in the last few years than previously. However, my true kiss of death is YouTube. I don’t know how that obsession started, when or where. But I’m drawn to so much. It used to be the place that I would visit when I needed to figure out how to program something on my phone. Now, I’m watching short movies and all up in people’s live chats. When I’m trying to write, YouTube is not something I need to touch. Now, if you wondering how one falls into this pit if it’s a known problem? Simple. I may be writing a scene and realize I’m uncertain of a fact I need to use in the story. I search it on the internet, and there’s a YouTube video. I watch it, and then another one to make sure the first was accurate. Then, a suggestion pops up for other videos, which I visit. Next, a notification is in my inbox that one of my favorite YouTubers has uploaded a new video. Before long, hours have passed. So, if a writer is one who is easily distracted, identify those distractions, and keep them out of the writing area.
- Healthy living. Getting a good night’s sleep and eating healthy foods allows the body and mind to be more energetic. While some foods are tastier than others, they can sometimes drain or zap energy. This is a small thing that can easily be done and help writer’s block.
- Make the time you have available to write productively. Okay, follow me on this. Many writers work a day job/full-time job. That limits the amount of time they have to write. That means filling in the downtime with writing. If a person works long hours, when he/she returns home, he/she may feel too drained to write. This may lead to writer’s block because either the person is too tired to physically write or he/she is too mentally drained to create content. However, if the person works in writing during downtimes, he/she may find that she is getting a lot more writing done that if trying to write at the end of a long shift.
Don’t forget to pick up a copy of my new steamy, sports romance, Ice Gladiators, guaranteed to melt the ice. It’s the third book in my Locker Room Love series. Available at https://amzn.to/2TGFsyD or www.books2read.com/icegladiators.
Taz has problems: a stalled career, a coach threatening to destroy him, a meddling matchmaking roommate, and a thing for his other roommate’s boyfriend. The first three are manageable, but the last… well, that’s complicated. Because as much as Taz is attempting not to notice Liam, Liam is noticing him.
Missed the two books in my sports romance series? No frets. Out of the Penalty Box, where it’s one minute in the box or a lifetime, out is available at http://amzn.to/2Bhnngw. It also can be ordered on iTunes, Nook, or Kobo. Visit www.books2read.com/penalty. Defending the Net can be ordered at https://amzn.to/2N7fj8q or www.books2read.com/defending. Crossing the line could cost the game.
For more of my stories, shenanigans, giveaways, and more, check out my blog, Creole Bayou, www.genevivechambleeconnect.wordpress.com. New posts are made on Wednesdays, and everything is raw and unscathed. Climb on in a pirogue and join me on the bayou. If you have any questions or suggestions about this post or any others, feel free to comment below or tweet me at @dolynesaidso. You also can follow me on Instagram at genevivechambleeauthor or search me on Goodreads or Amazon Authors.
Until next time, happy reading and much romance.