Ah, writer’s block. The bane of many a writer’s existence. It’s that feeling of shock and having no direction when the inspiration suddenly runs out. It happens to all of us at one point or another, so we all know it’s real.
Personally, I just don’t believe in it.
Yes, having no inspiration is a very real thing. As I just said above, it happens to all of us. But when we give it the power to influence whether we’ll write or not, it becomes a problem.
Because, you see, you don’t need to be inspired to write.
If teachers taught only when they felt inspired, nobody would have a complete education. If chefs cooked only when they had fresh inspiration, all of their ingredients would expire. And if writers wrote only when they had that spark of inspiration, there would be nothing to read.
The truth is, writing is hard. Like every other occupation out there, there will be days (maybe many days) where we just don’t feel like putting in the work. And writer’s block becomes a handy little excuse to explain away why nothing is getting done.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Here’s how I navigate writer’s block.
1) A Little Every Day
It’s easier to get a task done in small segments, so we should combat writer’s block the same way. Write just fifty words at a time–that’s it.
The bad news is that this is also the most difficult thing to do. Sitting in the chair and typing something when I don’t feel like it is like a special kind of torture.
On the flip-side, it’s almost guaranteed that once those first fifty words are out, I’ll keep going. Most of the time, the words will come even if you have no idea where they’re coming from.
Additionally, writing a little every day creates a habit. Once that habit takes root, it begins to feel strange not to write, which makes it so much easier to ignore the block.
2) It Doesn’t Matter if it Sucks
Those first fifty words (and maybe some of what comes after it) might be utterly horrible. And that’s okay.
Nobody expects you to pen a masterpiece while you’re feeling uninspired, but if you stop working because you have writer’s block you’ll never pen a masterpiece. Never.
The most important thing is to keep going, even if what has been written needs a bit of work. That is, after all, what the editing process is for.
As I said in point 1, though, the key is usually just to get going. I’ve found that even if some of what I’ve written when I’m forced to write is terrible, the odds are it’ll get better as I go along.
3) Write Something Different
You might not be inspired to work on your novel, but maybe you’ll find a spark of inspiration if you work on something else. Blogging, for example. Pouring words into something else activates your writing brain. Fine, I just made up the writing brain thing. 😛 But I swear it works.
Write a review, write down a recipe, write an internet rant, whatever. The act of writing something else will make it easier to work on your main project.
4) Walk Away
Allow yourself breaks.
I get so pulled into the story while I’m running on inspiration that I don’t stop to do anything but write. Personally, this is more detrimental than not writing at all, because I physically and emotionally burn out.
It’s obvious that I need to disengage and paint or game or read, but when I’m in the zone, I admit, I don’t see anything else. Just screen and keyboard.
Having said that, past experience assures me that stepping away and picking up that paintbrush instead is more than likely to cause some sort of brainwave. In fact, some of my best writing happened after I stepped away.
Don’t forget physical activity either! Just getting out of the house, breathing fresh air, and taking a walk is often the best medicine for writer’s block.
Sometimes, writer’s block is born out of being stuck in a plot hole, or not knowing how to advance the plot.
So, brainstorm. Personally, I have an EPIC alpha team. These are two amazing ladies who know the story as well as I do. They get all the intricacies, and have access to spoilers that nobody else does. When I get stuck, I arrange a video call or coffee date with these ladies, and we iron out those plot holes.
I believe talking about the plot with someone you trust is better than brainstorming on paper. When you say things aloud, it just makes more sense than reading it quietly. And when you get an answer back from someone else, you’re given a fresh perspective that’ll often lead to you discovering answers you’d never considered.
Also, when your alpha team is as excited about the project as you are, it means their excitement will rub off on you, and I can almost guarantee you’ll walk away inspired.
And that’s all I have for you today. Now, go out there and write! 🙂