Writer’s block can be the pits. I have to say, before starting this post, I had a bit of writer’s block. I had no idea what to write about. And then I thought of writer’s block, and it was solved. (Kind of strange how that happened, isn’t it?) Anyway, the last thing you want to encounter while writing a story, poem, play, or novel is writer’s block. Let me let you in on a little secret, though:
It happens to all of us.
Now, it may not happen as often to other people, and it may be more frustrating for some than others. Still, the fact is that it happens to everyone. Even Stephen King encounters writer’s block at one point or another. Now, I’m pretty sure it must not happen all that often to him, considering the amount of novels he produces – either that or he has discovered an excellent way of getting around that oh-so-dull obstacle.
Well, I may not be a Stephen King, but I’ve recently learned a few exercises that help with writer’s block. They won’t exactly solve the problem directly related to your creative work, but it should help unlock your mind to other great ideas…which should give you a fresh perspective when you get back to writing.
Before I reveal what those exercises are, however, I’m going to give you a brief glimpse into my writing life. You probably already know this, but I am a published author. Now, I’m not being braggadocios here – if anything, being a “published” author just means that I worked really, really hard and decided to take the risk and hit the incredibly ominous button titled “Publish.” It required a lot of work, time, research, and sacrifice. And many hours staring at a computer screen with a pounding headache.
But…there’s also good things about it.
It was one of the best decisions of my life, and the most rewarding process. What I learned through the publishing process was invaluable. It is a lot easier for me now as I work on my second book because of the fact that I’ve already been through the process and I know how to do things.
Also, creative writing fills a void that nothing else can. I guess non-writers don’t have this void in them, but for writers…it’s just something that can’t be replaced. It can’t be quenched. And it can’t be stopped forever – even by writer’s block.
I encounter writer’s block on a weekly basis. Some weeks are particularly harder and I get writer’s block every time I sit down to write. So, without further ado, I will list three things that help with writer’s block.
Oftentimes, the hardest part is just…starting.
Even if you already have five hundred pages written in your book, there still comes that hard moment when you open your Word processor, open your document, scroll to the latest entry…and pause as you think about how to start up again. You may have just left off the night before. But between going to bed and your time to write, hundreds of things have distracted you. Unless you’re super famous and can manage quitting your job to live on your book sales, you’re going to have distractions from work. You’re going to have distractions from family. Facebook. Google Plus. Instagram. Twitter. Your blog. Goodreads. YouTube. The list goes on and on.
It may seem super innocent to minimize your document and “quickly” check your email, Facebook, etc. However, those “quick moments” aren’t as quick as you might think. If you actually record how many minutes you spend checking your notifications instead of writing, you’ll be amazed. Before you know it, all your writing time is up, and you might have a sentence written.
One thing I have found to be very helpful is not starting at the beginning of a chapter. Leave off in the middle of a scene, and leave notes about what to write next. This makes for an easier transition when starting up again.
So, my advice?
Just write. Disconnect from the darn internet if you have to. Push it out of your mind. When you open your document, you must force yourself to get at least a page written before you can check your notifications. I’ve heard what works really well with lots of people (and not just for writing) is to trick yourself into rewards. Tell yourself, “I will write three pages, and then check my email. Only my email. Then I will write two more, and I will earn the right to check Facebook.” And so on. Make yourself do the work, but give yourself a reward for doing it.
(Of course, for many of us writers, just the mere writing process is reward enough. Still, it’s nice to take a break.)
I have often found that forcing myself to just start writing is all I need. After a few pages, I’m immersed in the story again, and I don’t need those frivolous “rewards.” I just needed it to kick start myself.
Taking a Different Perspective
Now, here’s an exercise you can do. I recently learned this through my creative writing course, and I have found it extremely helpful. Of course, I usually do my tried-and-true “just write” method first, but if that doesn’t work and I’m still distracted, I try this. Not only does it help with writer’s block, but it’s really fun!
Pick an object. Anything at all. Then, imagine zooming in really, really close to it. Like, ant-size close. How different would that object appear then? Describe it in detail. Describe how it might feel – what different emotions it might give you if you were in it.
For instance, I thought about pavement. When zoomed in really close, I imagined that it would closely resemble the surface of the moon, with all the craters – just black. I also considered a gravel sidewalk. At ant-size, it would appear to be an insurmountable labyrinth. It would be dark, cold, and menacing.
This goes along with the different perspective idea. I learned about it in my creative writing course, and through my friend, Madeleine (another homeschool graduate). It is really simple, but I do believe it can make a world of difference and definitely spark new ideas.
Pick an ordinary object. Now, personify it. How does the kitchen knife feel about being used on chicken instead of onions? What does the blender observe during the day and store in its eternal memory? What memories could the walls of a house retell if it was asked? Mostly sad or happy?
Not only could these imaginations be used for breaking writer’s block, but they may spurn ideas for a future children’s story. You never know!
While on those personification lines, I thought I’d post this funny (and stupid) video. Enjoy!
In the end, if none of these things work for you, keep trying until you find something that does. Happy writing!