There’s nothing worse than sitting in front of the computer ready to complete your magnum opus and not knowing what to write. You sit there in the ready, thinking about what to type and nothing comes. It’s as if your creativity ran out the door screaming and all you can do is stare at the monitor while your mind turns into an empty vault. You have writer’s block.
It can happen in the middle of a story you’re working on or just before you sit down to start writing something new. And once it happens, the story comes to a screeching halt. The longer you nurse your writer’s block, the better the chances are that the story will remain unfinished on your hard drive. Believe me, I have had more than one story tragically end up that way.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can fend off writer’s block and finish the story you’ve been eager to write, or spent weeks of your life working on. Here are some simple ways fend off writer’s block and get back to writing.
Find a Picture
This is an old writing group exercise that helps keep your ideas fresh. Find a picture, any picture, and write a story about it. You can use old family photos or do a Google search for street photography and use one of the images that comes up. Be sure to click on the images tab so you get a browser full of photographs. Choose one that you feel has something to say, that you can construct a story around, then get writing.
Read my post called Find Inspiration in a Writing Group to discover the benefits of a writing group.
Write for half an hour without stopping. Set a timer and just write whatever passes through your head and do not stop. Even if it’s gibberish, do not stop. If your thoughts shift from one thing to another, keep going. Flow with it and spill the contents of your mind onto the keyboard. Think of it as free association, which it actually is. The goal is to jump start your creativity.
If the timer goes off and you’re on a roll, keep going. The worst thing you can ever do once you get in writing geer is stop.
Force Yourself to Write
This is similar to the timed writing without the timer. Just sit there and make yourself write whatever comes to your mind. If you’re at a place in the story where one of the characters is in a room, or a specific outdoor place, start by describing the area and keep writing until something happens. Do not judge what you’re writing, just allow it to come out. This will summon the writing muse more often than not, although the process is a bit painful. You might also want to hang a picture of a tyrant in front of you for added effect.
Other Tips and Tricks
These are things people do to help keep themselves in the writing mood and stave off writer’s block. Read through them, find what works for you, and stick with it!
Find a Place to Write
Some people say it’s good to have one specific place where you create your stories. It’s kind of along the idea of not reading in bed if you want to get a good night of sleep. Find that place where you write and only write in it.
Writing in one room is something I did back in the days of desktop computers. Once I got my first laptop, that was out the door. Sometimes I work in the kitchen, other times the living room. I’ve even taken my laptop to the backyard.
Write Every Day
I do this when I’m actually working on a project, which I truly need to get back to. One of the biggest obstacles when writing is feeling as if you’ll never get it done. For me, it’s always the first draft that’s a killer. The re-writing is so much easier. When working on a first draft, I have to force myself to write every day.
Pick a Time
Find a time that works for your schedule and stick with it. Every day at that time, sit down and write until the project is done. Mornings have always worked best for me, especially when working on a first draft.
Push it Out
Don’t worry about the writing when working on a first draft. Remember, all writing is in the re-writing. The first draft is about getting the story out, after that it’s about tweaking it for clarity and readability. This is also the time when you may have to kill your darlings, so don’t fall in love with the first draft.
Kill Your Darlings refers to taking out a section or sections of the manuscript that you feel are great, but add nothing to the story. Past them in their own file for safe keeping. You may be able to use them in another project.
Hopefully these simple tips and tricks will help you get your writing back on track. Feel free to add your own tips on getting rid of writer’s block in the comments.