Got writer’s block?
Have no fear! First, I’ll tell you why it’s not your fault and you shouldn’t judge yourself.
Then, I’ll share four no-fail strategies for kicking writer’s block to the curb and getting on with your writing project.
Writer’s Block is a Fact of Life
When you write, you will get stuck. Blocked. Unable to move forward. Out of sorts with your Muse. Dumped by Divine Inspiration. Whatever you call it, you will, at more than one point in your writing journey, find yourself banging your head against the task of writing.
The first thing to know is that this is incredibly normal and you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it. There’s nothing wrong with you. You are a writer!
Many other creative people get blocked as well. Writers aren’t alone. But perhaps it’s because our work happens in sentences that our block feels so bad. If you were an inventor or an engineer, no one would expect that you would create at 50 units per minute. But since writing is (mechanically speaking) usually pretty easy, we can really feel down when all of a sudden we can’t do something as simple as move a pen across paper or our hands across a keyboard.
That is the first thing to recognize: Writing is not writing. (Oh boy, there she goes again. Off into the land of incomprehensible explanations.) But I think you know this intuitively.
The craft of writing is not simply scribbling or typing characters on the page.
If you are a writer, you are an artisan. You shape ideas. You invent people and places. You craft scenes. You form images in the minds of others. That is the work of being a writer. Which means that if you are struggling to put those characters — as in letters — down on the page, there must be some other part of the writing process that is calling out to you right then.
Here are four ways to reconnect with your Muse and listen for what she needs you to do next in order to keep moving forward.
1. Step Away from Your Desk
Get up. From wherever you are. Stand up and stretch your body. Look around you. Breathe deeply. Send oxygen to your brain. Feel the parts of yourself that you often neglect, like your toes, your shoulders, or your bum. Shake yourself out and reset your physical self. You might already find that helps. Sometimes your body needs your attention before it will agree to continue being ignored as you travel through time and space without it. It’s only fair you give it a little love here and there, right?
Plus, the more oxygen you get into that noggin of yours, the more it will willingly solve problems and find the answers to your biggest questions about what should happen next in your draft.
Bonus points if you get a breath of fresh air by heading outside for a few minutes as you walk and swing your arms.
You know how they say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results? If you’ve been trying to think about the same idea in the same place and it isn’t working, it means you need to change something. The place is probably the easiest thing to change.
2. Change Writing Activities
Switch to a different part of the craft of writing. It may be that you’re feeling stuck because you simply don’t know where to go next. Isn’t that completely fair? Why should you be responsible for intuitively knowing every detail of your writing project? Aren’t you, like all craftspeople, entitled to pause and look at your blueprints? Or even to sketch out some new blueprints if there’s something new you want to build? Absolutely!
Even if you have a word count goal, you will be better off pausing and planning or blocking off time to brainstorm than you will be trying to force your way forward. Forward where? Or forward how?
If you can’t seem to get your brain around that big battle scene, why not draw a diagram? Map out where the opposing armies will be. Add in the physical features that surround them. Are there trees to fell, mountains to shoot arrows from, or rivers to get on the other side of?
Just as looking at a problem in a different place is often very helpful, looking at it from a different point of view is often key. Stop trying to craft the next sentence, and ask how you can craft the next idea, image, or sequence.
3. Unleash Your Subconscious Mind
Tapping into your subconscious mind is often the secret to getting unstuck. It’s as simple as shushing the part of your brain that thinks it knows everything and inviting all those other shyer parts to get a word in edgewise. I have two favorite activities for this. Interestingly enough, they both involve writing. 😉
The first suggestion is to freewrite on the topic that you’re writing about. Freewriting allows you to let all the ideas flow — even the ones you think might be silly or weird or fruitless. When you freewrite you are not writing as a craftsperson; you are writing as the cleaning brigade. Your goal is to clear all the muck from your brain. Turn on the taps at full and let the rusty sludge pour out. Let it keep pouring until you get to the crystal clear water below it. You may need to let the taps run for an awful long time. That is just fine. Let all your negative thoughts come out as well. All those doubts about your ability to write. All those worries that you’ll never finish this project. If you let them out, they can’t corrode your confidence from within.
The second suggestion is to journal. Try this simple journaling activity for busting writer’s block. It’s a surefire way to switch your perspective, find solutions, and re-frame your situation in a positive light. I highly recommend you try it out!
4. Stop Forcing Your Writing
Stop trying to write altogether. Instead, talk through your ideas. You can chat with yourself in the mirror or as you walk around the block. You can bust out a recorder and talk through your ideas one at a time.
Talk to a writing coach who will ask you targeted questions that leave writer’s block in the dust. Get a fresh pair of eyes on your project. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much writing you can get done after taking just an hour to talk to an expert.
Ready for some help moving forward? Book a Clarity Session with me today. I’ll help you get unblocked so you can meet your word count and get excited about your story again.
Thanks for this perspective, Megan. I used these techniques, as well as your suggestions on outlining/organizing, and am successfully completing Book 3. Your coaching has helped me make my books even stronger. I appreciate you!
So glad to hear these techniques (and the outlining tools as well) are working for you Barbara. Especially since I’m eagerly awaiting the third book in your Energy Unveiled series. Any writer’s block that tries to come between me and the continuing adventures of your fabulous characters had better watch out! ?