Ultimate Guide to Defeat Writer’s Block
Do you suffer from writer’s block? If you’re worried that your ability to form words into writing has left you forever, it’s time to make a change.
When you find yourself at an impasse or unable to write, change things up!
Defeat writer’s block, and try something spontaneously different:
1. Do the Opposite Thing
Are you worried that your approach to writing is messing up your train of thought?
Then just do the opposite thing that you’re doing right now. If you write in the morning, start writing in the evening instead. If you started from the beginning, skip to the middle or end. If you’ve been developing characters and dialogue, focus on the plot. If you can no longer write, research or read instead. If your scheduled routine has yet to work, throw off all sense of regard for time. If you are typing on a laptop, hand-write it in a notebook.
Just don’t do what you’re currently doing—it’s not working.
2. Find a Better Place to Write
The ideal writing space is one that reduces distractions and puts you in an organized as well as constructive setting—an aesthetically pleasing place that’s comfortable to you. Productivity is not something you can force, it comes from working in the optimal environment with a positive mindset.
A great trick to reduce distractions is a pair of headphones.
3. Establish Overall Purpose
Have you stopped writing because your piece lacks quality? Maybe the idea of writing a book sounds fun and exciting, but do you really have an underlying motive that fuel’s your creative passion to write? If not, you should find one.
Sure escapism is fun, and everyone loves a good story. But your story may come across as empty and quite forgettable if it’s lacking an overall purpose, theme or reason for having been written.
Have you established your overall purpose?
4. Do Your Research
You may not really have a grip on what it is you wish to convey.
Writing requires you to take your thoughts—those things that we call “abstracts”—and turn these ideas into “concretes”. This is accomplished through the use of literary devices and masterful storytelling techniques. Maybe there are some tricks you have yet to encounter that may benefit your writing greatly.
Perhaps you should research more about classic styles, storytelling techniques and literary theory—I recommend Ayn Rand’s The Art of Fiction. Whether you like Rand or not, read it.
5. Create a Schedule
Let’s be realistic here—at the rate you’re going, you may get this thing published in a few decades.
But that’s no way to approach writing, considering what you think and write right now will be much more relevant to today’s readers than it will be to those living thirty years into the future.
There’s really no time to waste.
Construct a schedule using the estimated number of words you wish to write along with a reasonable amount of time it should take to write each section. Set realistic goals and time-frames to map out a weekly or monthly schedule. This is a great way to track your progress and trick your brain into understanding the amount of time it takes to carry out such a task—and why the reaction to hesitate makes this goal nearly impossible.
Turn writing into a step by step procedure—set deadlines, timeframes and dated goals.
I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
6. Break it off into Bits
Sometimes writer’s block is more the product of our own procrastination than anything else.
Procrastination is born of our brain in overload—when the amount of energy and effort needed to accomplish a goal seems to cloud our better judgment about the way in which we should go about achieving this goal. So we put it off.
You may be in need of a more systematic approach to help ease the mind from stress and self-induced procrastination. Get organized and construct an outline for each writing piece—break off each section into separate pieces.
Choose one section to write at a time by breaking it into bits, and forget the rest!
7. Get the Blood Pumping
Workout, meditate or take a walk to get the blood pumping. All that extra circulation and blood flow to the brain invites the essential oxygen your mind needs to operate at its most optimal level of cognitive functioning.
Some say the secret to writing is to take a walk—I myself would prefer a drive.
Meditation may be an actual “fix-all” when it comes to writer’s block. Those who meditate understand that when life throws them a riddle, worry only intensifies the problem and patience reveals the answer in time. So, quiet the mind.
8. Read for Inspiration
Writers may find it difficult to read a book. That is because they are constantly considering the scenes, dialogue, and themes while reading as pertaining to their own book or writing piece. It’s easy to get lost in a story only to find that the characters or plot begin to remind you of your own creative writing ideas.
Use this interaction as a source of story inspiration.
9. Invest in a Timer
For a more practical problem-solving technique to cure writer’s block, invest in a timer. Psychology says you can pretty much trick the human body into doing what you want with a little classical conditioning.
Try setting a digital timer for a certain number of minutes or hours dedicated for writing each day. When you press “start” don’t leave your seat until the timer is up. Start with an easy 30 minutes to write, and try adding to this each day you manage to conjure up some words.
Even if you have written nothing within 30 minutes, you will feel much antsier to write something profound the longer you sit and stare. Remember, the act of writing is a triumph of mind over matter.
The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.
—Mary Heaton Vorse
10. Listen to Music
Music is an essential source of writer’s inspiration. Words are distracting, but instrumental or classical music has the power to set any writing mood—elated, fearful, sad or serene.
Without music, I would not be able to write. My own writing routine consists of a pair of headphones and beautiful music (preferably the cello). It’s something that has always worked for me.
In fact, when the headphones go on, my mind confirms, “it’s time to write.”
11. Let the Mind Wander
It becomes difficult to write, when you place so many restrictions upon what you expect to see when you’re finished. Don’t expect anything to come out perfect the first time around. Allow yourself room to make mistakes by constantly continuing to move forward in search for something new.
Look what lies ahead instead of behind. Consider all the things the writing could be without constraining yourself to a box of rules and writing guidelines. You may be focusing too much on others’ writing styles or preestablished methods. Dare to be original.
Be bold and allow your wandering mind to direct the flow of your writing.
12. Connect with Nature
Could you ever expect to construct a world of your own without taking notice of the landscape, beauty and natural wonder of the world that exists all around you?
You must witness the most extraordinary sunset to capture and convey the emotion you felt as you watched it disappear over the horizon.
13. Change Directions
Maybe the reason you’re having trouble writing is because you’ve lost interest in your own piece. Save yourself from the anguish of further writing. If you are bored with it, you can’t expect anyone to enjoy reading it either. Perhaps you have changed your mind—so integrate this fresh new perspective into your writing.
Some writers remain static and sacrifice the quality of a piece out of stubbornness. It’s important to always remain flexible when writing, and identify when problem areas require changes or omission.
With no motion behind your writing, you’re in need of a change in direction.
14. Go People Watching
Daily life, chance happenstance and the exchange of everyday “small talk” is a great source of inspiration for dialogue. Observe and listen close to the way in which people interact.
Take a good look at the people around you and ask:
- What are this person’s most prominent or distinguished features?
- How do they dress or carry themselves?
- What do they say or do while interacting with others?
- Does their gait, dialect or style of dress reveal something about them as a person?
Always look at the shoes–as I believe choice of footwear reveals a lot about a person (but that’s just me). You can almost begin to construct an imaginary world around the background story of who that person may be. This is a great way to inspire scenes of a book and construct characters with realistic attitudes and qualities.
You need not reinvent the most profound human qualities, when character inspiration is all around you.
Did you use these methods to overcome writer’s block? Get inspired with 7 Ways to Improve Writing Skills.
cc: Tom Mascardo, BMcIvr, Florian Knorn, Cinty Ionescu, L. Mountrakis, Josh DiMauro, Moyan Brenn, Tamás Mészáros, David Knollmann, Phil Roeder, Victoria Nevland, Dmitry Lebedev, Phil Whitehouse