It happens to the best of us. You sit at your computer, but try as you may, nothing happens. The next time you’re stuck try these 9 tips for overcoming writer’s block.
If you write, you’ve probably gotten writer’s block at some point. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, stories or articles, it’s bound to happen eventually. It might be caused by simply being preoccupied with so many other things that you can’t think properly. Or, it could be because the planets aren’t in alignment, your muse took a vacation, there isn’t enough chocolate and wine in the house. No one really knows why thoughts come together in perfect harmony at some times and scatter like leaves at others. But don’t fret. The next time you can string together a sentence there is hope. The key is to give it time because the words will return…eventually.
Here are some of the best tips for overcoming writer’s block.
Create a Routine
If you are continuously plagued with writer’s block, start a writing routine. If you have to schedule out your day so that you’re writing at the same time every day, then so be it. Having a routine in place preps your gray matter for what’s to come, so it’s ready. A handy app that helps me is Writeometer. You can schedule a daily reminder for the same time and even add a word count to accomplish that day.
Do Something Menial
If I’m writing along and suddenly can’t quite figure out how to word things, I know just what to do. Find something that doesn’t require a lot of thinking. I’ll fold clothes or wash dishes or water the plants. Doing these menial tasks will clear my mind, and by the time I’m finished with my chore and sit back at my computer, I know just what to say.
Turn your phone to vibrate and let everyone know when you’ll be writing. Sometimes those short interruptions are just enough to have you losing your train of thought. The same goes for your social media account because that’s just going to suck you in and the next thing you know your day was wasted watching cat videos your aunt shared. Create a schedule for social media time and stick to it.
Listen to Music
This is my favorite thing to do when my mind doesn’t cooperate. Heck, it’s my favorite thing to do when I’m writing period. Put on some of your favorite tunes and let the inspiration flow.
Move to another spot
One of the beautiful things about writing is that you can do it almost anywhere. If you have a laptop, the sky’s the limit. So, if you’re stuck in a rut, try a change of scenery. Don’t stay cooped up in your usual spot. Take it outside. If outside isn’t an option, move to a window or just another room in your house.
Just Keep Writing
John Rogers once said, “You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.” The point is to no stop writing. If you can’t work your way past the block on the project you’re working on, try something else. Try freewriting.
Even if it’s just writing nonsense to entertain yourself, it will help you. Think of your brain as any other muscle in your body. The more you work it, the stronger it’ll become. Just like doing the same action forms muscle memory, writing regularly causes you to become better at it. As a result, the words will come easier.
I don’t know about you, but just the smell of those magic beans turning ordinary water into a super drink kicks my mind up a notch. Have a few sips, and all will be right with the world again. If not, at least you got your caffeine fix.
Read a Book
If nothing else is working, try picking up a good book. Reading an intriguing story by another author is likely to give you the inspiration you need for your own writing. It might even spark some extra ideas.
Get Some Exercise
Exercise might make the body tired (temporarily), but it makes the mind happy. Those little endorphins coursing through you are like giving candy to kids. Your brain gets all kinds of happy and just a little bit of a high. I always do my best thinking during my morning exercise, and if I can’t think, I put on the ol’ walking shoes and hit the neighborhood. It gets me outside moving, and my mind thinks, I mean thanks, me for it every time.
Here are a few things not to do when you’re trying to get past your block:
Don’t Turn On the TV
That mindless entertainment won’t help your mind work, so don’t think that zoning out in front of the boob tube (that’s what my dad always called it) is going to help you.
Stay Off Social Media
I know I’ve already said this but it’s worth repeating. Social media is not the place to turn when you can’t move past a block. Unless you’re part of a mastermind group that shares valid ideas to what you’re writing about, social media will just steal away time, and at the end of the day, you’ll be no closer to finishing your project than you were when the day started.
Keep Away from Needy People
If you have one of those friends or family members that is always in need of advice or help, keep your distance during your block.It’s usually not intentional, but that type of person has a way of stealing all your thinking juices.
Don’t Give Up
This is the most important thing to remember. Just because the words aren’t coming right now doesn’t mean they won’t return. The last thing you should do is just to give up. You started writing for a reason. Perhaps it’s time to rehash what those reasons were. If they’re still valid, they might just be the inspiration you need.
The next time you’ve got writer’s block, give one of these ideas a try. Just don’t freak out if you can’t get right back into the groove. Sometimes it takes a day or so. Muses need vacations too you know.