Five Ways to Combat Writer’s Block
writer struggles with writer’s block from time to time. We can’t will ourselves to create, but we are not completely helpless, either. We can act to combat the blockage and we can use our time wisely while the blockage remains. Through trial and error, I’ve discovered some strategies for overcoming writer’s block and for using my time wisely when my wells of creativity have run dry. I’d like to share them with you here.
1). Walk Away/Switch Projects for a While
Even a well-written manuscript – one that includes a story with a good plot, memorable and believable characters with whom you can identify, dialogue and description that draw the reader right into every scene and every drama as it unfolds – can get tiresome if you have looked at it long enough. If you find your excitement for a project waning, and with it, your ideas for how to continue, do not give up. Instead, walk away from it for the time being. Set the story aside and work on another project you haven’t visited for a while. You may very well find that your time apart from this older project has given you new perspective and insights on how to improve it and new enthusiasm for working on it.
2). Change Up Your Work Schedule/Environment
Sometimes we get tired of the routine of writing in front of the same computer or at the same time of day. When this happens, writing can begin to feel like a chore rather than a fun way to spend the hours. This, in turn, can result in the gradual onset of writer’s block. When this happens, try changing your routine. Go for a walk when you would normally do your writing and choose some other time of the day to write. If you’ve been writing on a PC, try writing longhand. If you’ve been doing all of your writing in your office, try taking your laptop to a coffee shop or to a park or even just in another room of your house. Even small changes like these are often enough to get the ideas flowing freely again.
3). Read Some Good Fiction
Sometimes the best thing to do when you have writer’s block is to read good fiction. Read a good book that you’ve wanted to read but haven’t had time to. Or read an old favorite, a book whose words are likely to remind you of what a good book is and why you started writing in the first place. Remembering what a good book looks like and why you write can kindle your desire to write and stir your creative juices so that when you return to your work, the ideas are there for the writing.
4). Write Anyway to Combat Self-Imposed Blockage
It is good to brainstorm in order to develop a plot and characters before one delves too far into writing a book. But for some of us, this process can go on and on so that we never write the book. We who are prone to this type of writer’s block need to remember: We cannot expect perfection to start with. We cannot expect to have every plot twist or facet of our characters in hand before we start writing. We cannot expect our protagonist to strike just the right balance between sympathy and loathing in our minds before we put pen to paper. At some point, we must simply write. We must go with what we have, fully aware that what comes out may not be close to what we will ultimately write for that part of the story, and that the plot or characters will improve by degrees, through repeated revision.
5). If the Block Persists, Use the Time to Edit
Writer’s block can be a good thing sometimes. It is always fun to create, but if we are always creative, bouncing from one project to another, writing story after story but never revising any of them into a refined form, we will never do our stories justice. At some point, when we’ve written a story from start to finish, we must read back through it to improve it. So if you find that you can’t figure out how to continue with a project you’re working on, and the other methods I’ve suggested above aren’t working, try editing something you have already written. That way, when your creativity rises up again, you will not have to set aside the ideas that you are excited about in order to plod through the tedium of editing. You will instead be able to focus on what you are ready to create.