Almost every author has had a day when the words just won’t surface. You stare at a blank page until sweat crops your brow or inner frustration makes you want to hammer your face against the wall or desk until the dammed words dislodge and ooze into a consistent stream. Nothing else strikes the icy tormenting fear for a writer than to suddenly worry if the words have gone forever. At one time or another, we writers have experienced writer’s block.
What can one do when the well seems to have dried up?
- Consult the idea notebook. I keep notebooks filled with various story ideas that nudge me from time to time to write at a later date. These ideas often hit when I am working on something else, so I jot them down or I will forget them. However, when the current project suddenly halts, it never hurts to work on a different idea for an hour or so to see if the storyline takes off.
- Work on multiple projects. Early in 2016, I was writing three different novels at the same time. The power struggle between the characters in each book lasted for several weeks until one of the characters overshadowed the others and demanded direct attention. Then I knew where to maintain my focus.
- Change of scenery. Sometimes all a writer needs to do is take his laptop or notebook to a new location and write. A library or a park bench on a sunny day can make all the difference in the world. Absorb these new surroundings. Being in the same room every day can grow stale and become depressive. I often go to different places to write and am amazed at the creative chapters I’ve produced seemingly at ease.
- Unplug the Internet. I wonder at times if writer’s block isn’t merely procrastination. Writing isn’t easy, and at times the process is very difficult. Finding other things to do, like surfing the Net, instead of writing, appeals to us. The next thing we know we’ve sunk a few precious hours of creative writing time for games or reading about the latest Hollywood gossip and this lax time has decreased our urge to even start writing.
- Take a scenic drive. Driving often spurs my imagination enough to return home to continue working on my project. While I drive, I think about the current scenario my characters are in. I don’t understand why, but my mind works through the characters’ conflict and possible resolutions.
- Revise the pages from the day before. In general, I reread the last three pages from what I wrote the day before. This allows me to revise and catch errors while refreshing in my mind the pace of the story and what the characters are doing. I’ve actually added to the previous day’s dialogue and often turn the three pages into five or six. By the time I’ve gone through those three pages, I’m usually back in the writing zone.
- Read a book. Reading is as important as writing for an author. By reading, new ideas unfold and the pacing and vocabulary of the story can ignite the urge to write.
- Move ahead in your book. Most of us have a slight idea of what events might occur later in the story. Try writing one of those scenes and see what happens.
- Go to the gym and workout or do yoga. Sometimes writer’s block occurs because of built up stress or fatigue. Increasing the heart rate can also get your mental juices flowing. Exercise combats stress, too. Not to mention being sedentary for long periods of time is deadly. Move around. Go to the mall and people watch while you walk several laps.
Writer’s block occurs but there are ways to overcome it. These nine tips have worked for me over the years. Hopefully, these tips will help you as well.