If you haven’t already read it, we advise that you read last week’s blog post, Does Writers’ Block Really Exist? It gives a better understanding of what this ‘condition’ really is.
At the end of the day, the best person to vanquish writers’ block is you. If you feel you’re afflicted by this curse, ask yourself the following:
Am I bored with the story I’m working on? If yes, leave it alone for a while and write something that interests you.
Am I battling to write due to depression or stress? If yes, write about your feelings – the words will flow and it will help you to continue working on whatever you were working on before.
Have I run out of ideas? If yes, write in a daily diary and watch the world around you – it’s overflowing with inspiration.
Am I stuck with the story I’m busy with and unable to find a way forward? If yes, look at it logically. What are your characters’ personalities? What would a person with that personality do in the situation your character is in? If it has nothing to do with personality or the characters’ choices, what does it have to do with and what would logically happen next if it was real life? Write something even if it doesn’t work well – you can re-write it later, once you have your momentum back. If you have a future scene in your head, write that instead. You can go back and fill in the gaps.
Some authors say that real writers write because they have to, not because they want to. These authors claim that anyone with writer’s block is, therefore, not a real writer. I’m not going to get into a debate on this – I think it’s true for some, but not true for everyone. I’m proof of this, as I’ve experienced blocks in the past, yet I’m one of those who have to write to stay sane. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a simple matter of getting started and having the right mindset and support. Consider some of the following ideas for a mindset change.
1. Explain what you’re trying to write to your dog, cat, partner, a friend or even a stuffed toy. It doesn’t matter. The point is to say it out loud, because this can often kick-start your brain.
2. To clear the cobwebs from your mind, do something silly to amuse yourself. I once went up to a stranger and asked for the time, making sure my watch was in plain view. The person’s expression was priceless. I could see the thoughts fluttering through that stranger’s mind: What the…? Is her watch not working? Yes, it’s weird and seemingly pointless, but it worked to get rid of my mental block, because it jarred my brain as much as it did that stranger.
3. I’ve advised writers to set specific times to write. This is a good idea when most of us have such busy lives. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t write any time you feel like it. If you have a mental block, you need to write when inspiration strikes and passion consumes you – even if it’s point form notes in a notebook you keep with you at all times (in cases where you’re unable to write due to other responsibilities).
4. Write a short paragraph where a new or non-important character has a major effect on one of your main characters. The interaction would not mean much to your main storyline – or would it? This is up to you. Write it and see where it leads. Even if you never use it in your book, it could serve to inspire you.
5. Stop stressing about not being able to write. Not many writers can create something worth reading when they feel mentally thumped.
6. Don’t allow yourself to write for a day or a week – however long you think it will take. It shouldn’t be hard if you’re already experiencing a mental block. No matter what brilliant ideas pop into your head during that period of abstinence, forbid yourself from writing them down. Trust me, when you know you’re ‘not allowed’ to write, the block will end sooner than you think. It’s Psychology 101 – the moment you try to force someone not to do something, they’ll probably not only want to do it, but will find a way to do it in spite of the ‘ban’.
7. Befriend other writers – hearing other writers talking about their books and discussing yours with them is one of the best motivations. My passion and urge to write is always increased a hundredfold after a nice relaxed chat with other writers, be it in person or online. Besides that, other writers’ brains are geared to fix plot holes and get past writing problems – you may be lucky enough to know one who suggests the perfect way forward for you and your story.
This is an extract from The Better Writing Guide by Fireblade partner, Vanessa Finaughty. For more helpful writing tips, please purchase the guide.