Five Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

Writer's Block
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This Article is by Currie Jean.

Writer’s block doesn’t happen to everyone, but even the fear of writer’s block can cause a few fits and starts before a writer starts to pen an opening paragraph. Countless solutions for writer’s block have been devised by many writers, and often work best for those same writers themselves. There are as many solutions for writers block as there are writers! Most of these solutions can be grouped into the following five types.

1. Move your body.

For most writers, sitting for many hours a day before a keyboard leads not only to slouching, but to inactivity, which can lead to poor blood circulation, low energy, stagnation and blank stares.  To get out of this rut, simply stand up and stretch. Arch your back. Use a chair for support, and bend side to side. Reach toward the ceiling several times, straightening tall, and take a few deep breaths. If you really want to get the endorphins rushing, go for a walk, a jog, or a few trips up and down the stairs. To really utilize your exercise time, use it to do some housework or clean up around the yard. Expect to return to your writing, after all this, feeling physically refreshed and mentally sharp.

2. Have a silent conversation.

This strategy works for writers of fiction and writers of non-fiction. Fiction writers can take advantage of this strategy by opening a new document and writing out a direct conversation with the characters in the stories they’re writing. Non-fiction writers could try writing an email or telling a story about the subject at hand to a friend on the phone. This strategy brings the conversational, logical tone back to writing, and can tell writers whether they need to do more research (if they can’t speak clearly about the most important points, there’s more research to do, yet). This also works as a way of clearing away performance anxiety while quieting down that internal critic who likes to pop up and say, “Stop! You’re a terrible writer!”

3. Change the subject.

If you’re working on non-fiction, change to fiction for a little while. If you’re working on one of the more important, nerve wracking pieces on your to-do list, switch to a less stressful project. You could pause your report to write a poem, or you could do a bit of extra research instead. This may mean you aren’t working on what’s most important, thus making it a form of procrastination, but at least you’re getting something done.

4. Time it right.

Different people write best at different times of day. Some minds are nocturnal, while others like to write before their morning coffee, as crazy as that sounds to everyone else. Find your time — and pay attention, because it may change on you — and then write only during that time. If you limit your time allotted for writing, for example, by designating only evenings between five and eight pm., not only will you be utilizing your peak hours, you’ll be putting your writing time into disciplined constraints, which will likely inspire you to write faster, with more direct attention, and with enthusiasm left to spare for the next day.

5. Reward yourself.

You can reward yourself for getting writing done both within your writing process itself, and after you have finished a piece, a project, or a work day. First, be sure to allow yourself the opportunity to write badly — all writers have bad days, and temporarily lowering standards in acceptance of this will allow you to get those words out. This may mean more work in editing later, but that’s no big deal. You’ll at least have something to work with, and once you’re finished, you can look forward to having free time to read your favourite blogs, watch TV, or simply lay about in the sun enjoying your pervading sense of personal accomplishment. We all deserve a pat on the back, regularly, especially from ourselves!

It can’t be said too frequently that writing is hard. A writer looks at a blank white space, a field of nothing, and then fills it up with the contents of his brain in a way that must be concise, clear, and creative. Talk about making something out of nothing! No wonder writers get blocked. Fortunately, even a casual understanding of what leads to word-blockage can act as mental Drano, flushing doubt and hesitation from your system and allowing you to do what you do best: write!

About the Author:

Currie Jean enjoys writing about a multitude of topics, from philosophy and psychology to food and technology. Native to Ontario, she enjoys crafting and button-making, when not writing both fiction and nonfiction.

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Steve Redmond
Steve Redmond
8 years ago

I find several things helpful including dictation. I can brainstorm ideas, good and bad, and sort through  them later for the best ones. I also think leaving the area where you write and getting a change of scenery can help a stagnant story. Sometimes you just need to get out to get the creative juices flowing again.

Darlene
Darlene
8 years ago

One way of dealing with writer’s block is to just list the key points you want to cover. Arrange them in the order you want to cover them. Then go back and flesh out the details. Let it get cold, and come back to it later to make it flow and connect with the reader.

Dottier
Dottier
8 years ago

I appreciate all of the advice here. Luckily, so far, I have had to battle writer’s block infrequently but I will file all this away for future reference.

arabwriterchick
arabwriterchick
8 years ago

Great tips! I’ve suffered from writer’s block for years and I blog about my experience (and how I learned to write again) on http://arabwriterchick.com/2012/04/12/overcoming-writers-block/
Thanks for the article!

Reela
Reela
8 years ago

I like to reward myself by sinking into a great book. Once my writing is
complete, I don’t have to worry about potentially integrating stories
or unintentionally stealing concepts.

Seth Stone
Seth Stone
8 years ago

I have never thought of exercise as a cure for writer’s block.  I tend to go play a video game or read for a while.  Sometimes I’ll go chat on Facebook or a forum.  Now that spring is here, perhaps I’ll give a walk around the block a try instead.

Jackelynn
Jackelynn
8 years ago

“Move your body” has definitely been my writing savior. Whenever I feel a block coming on, I get as far away from the computer as possible. Taking a nice, long walk around the park usually helps rejuvenate me and helps me regain my focus.

Lyrie
Lyrie
8 years ago

There are some great tips in here.  I frequently take a break and use physical exercise to clear my mind.  In the future I will try holding a silent conversation since negative internal dialogue about my work’s quality is draining and hard to work past.

Kaylee Hammond
Kaylee Hammond
8 years ago

I write non-fiction for the most part so I don’t run into writer’s block very often.  With non-fiction, I think knowing your topic well should create an endless list of ideas.  You tip #1 is something that never occurred to me as being helpful for writer’s block but I am going to try it next time I need a pick-me-up.

Divya Krishnappa
8 years ago

I definitely agree with this article. I always have to leave the room I’m writing in. Taking a walk in the park or playing with my dogs drastically refreshes my mind and energy, and I want to have the best energy possible when I write. Thank you for this post!

Theresa Sneed
Theresa Sneed
8 years ago

Nice post! For me, writer’s block happens when I step away from my WIP too long and have to reread it before the ideas flow again…
I’m new to this campaign thing, but am really enjoying it! So, Tag! You’re it again! Visit my blog for a list of my eleven questions then link it back to me! Look forward to getting to know you better! ~Theresa Sneed author of No Angel and its forthcoming prequel, From Heaven to Earth http://theresasmallsneed.blogspot.com

Aidan
Aidan
8 years ago

This is really helpful, a big thank you to Currie.

Susan Francino
8 years ago

Good article!  I was pleased to find that I already do a lot of these things when I feel stuck. 

I’m from your Fantasy campaigner group–just stopping by to say hello! 

Sparkie
Sparkie
8 years ago

Suggestion #2 is a great aid to me.  I have trouble defining my character’s personalities sometimes, which can cause me to stop working on a story.  Having them converse almost always solves whatever problem I’m faced with in this regard.

Antonio del Drago
8 years ago

I’ve always found approach no. 1, “move your body,” to be most effective.  When I can’t seem to get anything written, taking a walk has the effect of changing my mental state.  It gets things flowing again.

Do any of our readers have other tips which they find helpful?  If so, please share.

Riviera
Riviera
Reply to  Antonio del Drago
8 years ago

I know when a period of being blocked is coming because I find every reason not to actually write. Things get cleaned twice over, overdue emails replied to and so on. So far I find dictating some ideas, instead of using pen and paper or a computer, to be helpful. I’ll try these tips too from now on.

christinesousa12
christinesousa12
8 years ago

Actually, no. 1 makes a lot of sense! After exercising there is that exhilarating feeling that makes my mind alive with a kind of buzz. Some of my best writing is done in the morning after a quick warm up. Thanks for the tips they are all pretty useful. Just in case, you guys may also want to get an additional five tips against writers block here: http://blog.printplace.com/5-strategies-for-getting-past-writers-block/ .

Jacob Neff
Jacob Neff
8 years ago

I’m a somewhat accomplished poet and this is my first stab at writing a novel so… there’s that [you don’t have to take me seriously;)].

Jacob Neff
Jacob Neff
8 years ago

This was really good. I guess the tip that I would share would be, “do what you feel comfortable with.” Challenges are good, but don’t kill your unique writing process. Stephen King talks about this in, “On Writing.” The way he does it is he writes one draft and then goes back and edits. But, I am differrent; I will write 3 chapeters and then stop and mull it over for a while, edit it, edit it, read it, write three more chapters, then go back and edit everything, read everything, write three more chapters rinse and repeat. So, I tried to do some things like just write, write, write until you’re done, dont look back but that just made my writing terrible so different strokes for different folks, I guess.

Mythic Scribes
Mythic Scribes
8 years ago

Do you have any tips to share?

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