Imagine someone saying, “writer’s block” in a room full of writers. I can guarantee you, it would be met with either empathetic groans, rolling eyes, or shudders. Being a writer myself, writer’s block is an unfortunate occupational hazard but at times can feel like a literary death sentence, especially when you have a deadline looming.
You want to write, but the ideas aren’t flowing out from pen to paper (or finger to keyboard, whichever you prefer). Or you have plenty of ideas but when the time comes to actually write, your mind just shuts off. You get stressed, your mind gets frazzled and the harder you think in an attempt to beat it, the more the mix of creative ideas and mental junk piles up in your head and before you know it, it’s got worse.
As time has gone on, through trial and error, I’ve found a couple of ways (and I’m still learning, a lot of these tips I’m still working on myself! And again, disclaimer: not all these work for everyone, find what works best for you) to help get through the times when I’m sitting at my laptop and my mind’s going, “Nah girl, not today!”
1. CHANNEL YOUR FRUSTRATION IN TO WRITING
If I’m being truthful here, this is what I’m doing write now. I’m wanting to get on with the rest of a script I’m writing at the moment, but it’s just not happening today not matter how hard I try. Writer’s block is something I find (as I’m sure many others can empathise) unbelievably frustrating. So I’ve decided to write about it. I’ve found in the past writing about what may be bothering/frustrating me, or even something I really like, like that amazing cup of tea I had earlier on, can help clear my mind and let ideas begin to flow again.
2. GET SOME MUSIC ON
Music has helped me (as corny as it sounds, I know) really get in the zone for when I’m writing whether it be classical music, movie soundtracks (shout out to Mr. Zimmer!) 80s power ballads, cheesy early 2000s pop songs, whatever works at the time! Music can give you ideas for stories and distracts you from whatever’s causing the writer’s block, relaxing you so you can tap back in to your creativity relatively stress free (I honestly never thought I’d ever hear myself say blasting my ears out with Backstreet Boys once helped me out of a block, but here we are!).
3. GO OLD SCHOOL
I know putting a pen to paper isn’t exactly old school, but in a world that’s so reliant on technology, it can be easy to get more frustrated in a block if your deleting sentences as fast as you’re typing them out. One of the first tips I ever learned, was to carry a notebook and pen EVERYWHERE for when you’re out and about and don’t have access to a computer.
Then again, you might not want to use a computer as your main writing instrument and that’s fine! There’s plenty of times I much prefer the permanence of a pen to paper than the flexibility of typing and deleting on a computer, and vice versa. Whatever works best for you at the time.
Write down anything you find interesting, a random phrase, something you liked in a shop window etc. Like the other many tips around, it’s all about getting that creativity kick started again, and the more you write down, the more ideas you’ll have.
4. FAN FICTION
Got an idea but can’t think of character names? Practice with some of you favourites!
Don’t let a block on names hold you back. Write your story using the names of some your all time favourite characters whether it be from your favourite book, film, play etc. Doing this can help build the foundation of your story, give room for character development if that’s something you’re struggling with (we’ve all been there) and once you’ve decided what your characters actually want to be called, ta-da! The story becomes completely your own.
5. GET SOME FRESH AIR
When you really want to crack on with whatever you’re writing, be it a novel, feature, short story etc. taking some time out can feel like the last thing you want to do. But trust me, take five minutes outside the house or get a window open, take a big breath of fresh air and observe the goings on of the world around you. Taking some time out will help recharge your batteries so by the time you sit back down at your laptop/notebook/typewriter, you’ll be able to write better, even if it’s just a sentence.
But most of all, persevere. Even if you can only write one word down on a piece of paper, that’s progress and one step closer to getting back on track. As I said earlier on, this is what has so far worked for me, so it won’t work for everyone. Do what works for you.
We can all agree writer’s block sucks, but don’t resign yourself to it, as tempting as that might be. Keep moving one step in front of the other, and you’ll get there! Good luck!