Four (Good) Ways to Beat Writer’s Block
Writer’s block is the dreaded nemesis of all writers. At least for me, there really is nothing worse than opening up Word, only to be greeted by a seemingly endless blank page and a tiny, incessantly blinking cursor with no idea what to write (except perhaps zombies, or giant spiders, but that’s for another blog post). Just imagine it: this big void of nothingness filling the screen. Somehow, it’s up to you to take that blank page and fill it with words, but at the moment the sheer emptiness of it has put you off, and for every second you can’t think of what to type, that tiny cursor blinks at you, teasing you with your own inaction. No matter how hard you try to spur yourself to continue, you can’t seem to find the right words, and pretty soon your story is at a standstill (or hasn’t even been started).
If the above situation is familiar to you, then you know the torture of writer’s block all too well and, unless you’re some kind of crazy masochist who’s down with that kind of thing, you want to get rid of it so that you can get back to work and not waste any more time that you could be spending finishing off your latest masterpiece. That’s the question, then, isn’t it: How do you get rid of writer’s block? Well, here’s a list of four methods I use to get me back into the writing mood when all that staring into the blank page becomes a bit too much:
- Take a break — Well, this one seems a bit obvious, doesn’t it? But I don’t mean take a break and procrastinate, I mean take a break from writing and do something that’ll get the creative juices flowing again. Step away from the computer for half an hour and get away from the blank page on the screen. Grab a book you like that’s in a similar genre to your own and relax for a while. You’ll relieve yourself of some stress and while you’re reading, you’ll find yourself thinking of your own work and relating it back to someone else’s writing. After a while, you’ll be itching to get back to work and you’ll have plenty of ideas floating around in your mind from the book you just read that you can use as a basis to get started.
- Stop writing — When you can’t seem to bring yourself to write anymore, then one of the best things you can do is stop writing. This doesn’t mean you have to stop making progress, though. The writing process is made up of many different elements, and actually writing is just one of them. Do something else related to your story that will be useful later. Even if you can’t write, you can still browse the internet and conduct research, brainstorm ideas, or draft a rough outline of events that are still to come that you can work off of later. Most of the time, doing these things will get me into the mood to write again (particularly if I’m researching something cool that I can’t wait to touch on in my novel), and if not, at least I’ve done something worthwhile that will come in handy when I do start writing again.
- Start editing — Now, I know what you’re thinking about this one: “how can I start editing if you haven’t I finished yet?” In fact, the editing process can start at any time, and if you can’t seem to get any writing done, you may as well proofread what you’ve written so far and polish it where needed. It’s just something you’ll have to do later anyway, but doing it when you’re suffering from writer’s block at least makes sure you’re still using the time you’re not spending writing doing something related to writing, and there’s every chance that reading through your work so far will inspire you to write some more, as you reflect on the passages that you had a lot of fun writing and read events that foreshadow the parts you still have to complete. While you’re doing this, you’re also improving the quality of your work by fixing up any errors you come across and that’s a good thing, right?
- Get talking — I’m normally not one for constantly bugging people about your book, but talking to fellow writers (or imaginary friends) about your story outline and your progress so far is a great way to motivate yourself to continue. I have a few close friends who are writers, and we often spend time telling each other about what we plan to write next, or running story elements and plotlines by each other. Call a friend or family member to read over what you’re working on, or post it for a critique on an internet forum. Talking to others about your ideas helps make them more solid and fleshes them out so they’re easier to work with, and there’s nothing like the exchange of suggestions and positive feedback to get you in the mood to write some more.
And there you have it, folks. While these methods may not work for everyone, any of these ideas is better than simply staring at a blinking cursor all day, and they’ve worked well for me personally many times. I’ve faced the horrors of the blank page, and I won. Give it a try, and you’ll be able to, as well.