5 cures for Writer’s Block

To begin with, let me be clear that I do not think that writer’s block is some psychological malaise that strikes creative people.  Writer’s block is just a symptom of a larger cause. Whether it’s a personal issue (stress, exhaustion, grief, depression) or a story issue (no strong conflict, weak characters, no idea of the destination), if you cure the cause, you cure the block.

I’ve spoken before about writer’s block, and there’s a great guest post in my archives by Emma Newman on the same topic.  So today’s post is going to be quick and simple; 5 cures for writer’s block.

5. Get some rest

Seriously.  If you’re staring at the page and trying to keep your eyes open, don’t expect amazing words to flow from your fingers in a glorious rush of creativity.  Close the computer, go to bed an hour earlier.  Then tomorrow, come to the page early and fresh, and see what a difference it makes.

4. Work out your issues

Whatever it is that’s keeping you from your creativity, work it out.   Sometimes it just takes a good mental talking-to.  Sometimes you need to vent to a friend and get some reassurance.  Sometimes it’s more serious, and you just need time to get through it.  Do whatever works.  But while you are doing this, stop thinking about writing.  Stop trying to write.  Concentrate on your issue.

If you are really meant to write, the drive will come back.  But it won’t do that until you are ready.

3. Do some outlining or freewriting

If it’s a story issue, then it might be time to get out the pen and paper, or the index cards, or the spreadsheet, and start working out a map.  Work out your destination, spend time thinking about your story and you will get that spark of an idea that sends you running back to the page.

If you’re a pantser and you don’t outline, then pull out some paper, find a comfy chair and do some exploratory writing.

2. Have a shower or go for a walk

I get so many, many fantastic ideas in the shower.  Or walking (on my own, without the distraction of conversation) or, unfortunately, driving, which can be terribly distracting in traffic.  So if you’re stuck and not sure what you’re doing, hop in the shower, get the water nice and warm and just think.  Let your mind wander in the direction of the story.  It’s all about helping the subconscious come up with the next great idea.

1. Write

The number 1, always successful way to work through writer’s block.  Sit down in front of the page, and write.  Set yourself a goal of a good thousand words, and don’t get up until you’re done.  Fight with the story.  Never give up.  The first few hundred words will be excruciatingly painful, but then the dam will break and you will hit your target before you know it.

This requires some tenacity and stubbornness, but those are good traits for a writer anyway, so you might as well cultivate them.

Go hard.  Break that block.  Never give up, never surrender!*

*Kudos if you can name that movie :)

Advertisements

Techniques to get you writing, Part 1: The psychology of failure

Over the next month I’m going to post a series of articles on how to deal with the problem of actually getting words on the page.  This series was originally posted over at Kiwi Writers as part of their SocNoc Challenge.

This series isn’t aimed at the people who are going to write “one day” or the people who are “waiting for the perfect idea before writing”.  This series is aimed at the writers who really want to write, but who haven’t yet developed the discipline or courage to sit down and blast out that first draft.

And yes, that group includes me, which is why I developed this series in the first place. I’m talking about the people for whom the inner editor is louder than the narrative voice, and the fear is greater than the drive.

Continue reading