We’re all writers, and we’ve all been there – that moment when we suddenly lose our train of thought, and we have no idea what we were just writing. I’m talking about that moment all writers dread: writer’s block.
When you find yourself facing writer’s block, it is important to remember that you are not alone and every other author out there has dealt with writer’s block at some time during their writing career. Although it is discouraging, writer’s block is temporary and it too shall pass. But, for the time being, here are six tips I use to beat writer’s block.
6 Tips on How to Beat Writer’s Block:
Be Active – Go for a walk, jog or run. Do yoga or go to the gym. Being active is a great way to reduce stress and clear your mind. Once you’ve cleared your mind you’ll find it easier to collect your thoughts and work on your writing.
Take a Nap – Whether you take a short power nap or an over-due, long midday nap, you’ll wake up refreshed. Chances are you’re facing writer’s block because your body is telling you that it needs a break. Take a nap and wake up rested, recharged and ready to tackle your writing for the day.
Watch a Movie – Take a break long enough to watch a movie. It can be your go-to movie when you’re stressed or down, a new movie you haven’t seen or any other movie you have in your collection. Movies provide visual inspiration and inspiration, and they allow your brain to relax. Who knows, maybe you’ll get inspiration for a character you’ve had trouble developing or an idea for a plot twist!
Be Prompted – If you want to face writer’s block head on, use a writing prompt to jumpstart your mind. Every Friday, we provide a writing tip and prompt for our readers with both text and a visual. If you’ve already used all of our writing prompts and are looking for a new challenge, you can search the internet for a plethora of writing prompts.
Switch Mediums – Maybe you are too distracted and cannot focus on your writing, or you cannot put your thoughts in writing fast enough. If you normally type on your computer, switch to pen and paper. By doing this, you will not have the internet at your fingertips, and you can focus on the task at hand: writing. If you normally write with pen and paper, try typing. Most people type faster than they write and that will help you write your thoughts faster, preventing you from getting lost in them.
Unwind – Whether you listen to music, read a book, dance or eat a snack, just do something that allows you to unwind. You can listen to music while you’re writing, or take a break from writing completely. Whatever you chose to do to unwind, just do it and enjoy it without keeping thoughts of your writing in the back of your mind.
The key to tackling writer’s block is taking a step back and focusing on something different for a short while. You will only get frustrated if you are suffering from writer’s block and try to ignore it.
Two important things to remember about writer’s block: it is our body’s way of telling us our mind needs a break, and it is temporary. So, the next time you find yourself facing writer’s block, take a deep breath and focus on something else knowing that you’ll be able to come back and tackle your writing with a clear mind later.
What tips do you have for beating writer’s block?
Great tips! Just what I needed to hear. You truly are a blessing from the Lord. May God be with you.
I’m in favor of any technique any writer uses that helps him or her past block, and any of these you list may be helpful in a secondary or supportive way.
I’ve been breaking writer’s block for more than 25 years in a one-time consultation for people ranging from full-time professional writers, including one who’s had ten books in a row on the New York Times bestseller list, and another who is a Pulitzer prize winner, to part-time writers, graduate students, and aspirant writers.
I identify six major forms of block (these also apply to other creative artists as well as writers, such as composers, photographers, and painters — but not to actors — and, actually, can apply to great numbers of people for great numbers of projects or undertakings). They are:
2. Avoidance behavior
3. Last-minute crisis writing
4. Inability to finish
5. Inability to select from among projects
6. Block specific (able to work on other material).
I can’t summarize a four-hour session filled with concept and technique here, but here, without going into detail about them or discussing the many subtle ways they can play out, are what I call “The Three Big Killers” in block:
1. Perfectionism — which is a form of all-or-nothing thinking, triumph or catastrophe, with nothing possible in between.
2. Fear — which is a product of the first and second Big Killers, but which can be identified as a separate entity. All fear in writer’s block, regardless of where it starts, can be boiled down to the simple statement: “That I can’t do it.” And what is the “it” that I can’t do? The simple act of putting words on paper. Period. Nothing more. Nothing less. The simple act of putting words on paper. No more magical an act than painting a board or throwing a board. (Find an equivalent analog for whatever task or project *you* have in mind or are facing.
3. The Baggage Train — these are all the things we wish to *accomplish* with our writing, such as I want to be rich, I want to be admired, I want to make them laugh and cry, I want to save the whales, I want to bring peace to the middle-east, etc., but which are not the *act* of writing itself. The problem arises because, while it looks like I’m trying to write, and I *think* I’m trying to write, I’m not: I’m trying to get rich, save the whales, get my ex-wife and all my ex-lovers to say ‘Boy, I really should have stayed with him. Look how sensitive and insightful he is,’ etc. The key is to disconnect the baggage train from the locomotive, which is writing, which is the simple act of putting words on paper, so that thing get out of the station.
Any single one of these Killers operating in you with sufficient strength, and you’ll be blocked ; any two present at the same time, and you don’t have a chance.
I hope that is of some help. I wish you the best with this problem. (Incidentally, I am not invulnerable to block myself. In fact, I have a *huge* potential case of it. The difference is, I know what to do about it. Actually, I break writer’s block several times a day for myself. If I didn’t, I would be paralyzed.)