Writing Tips: Writer’s Block
This wouldn’t be a writing blog if this topic wasn’t discussed at one point or another. This is a question all writers tackle at one point in their careers, but everyone who has been doing it for long enough has found their own ways to avoid it, or at least manage it. Today I’m going to go over some of my own ways to combat writer’s block, and some other suggestions I’ve come across in discussion groups.
The Three R’s: Re-Read, Revise, Recreate – If you’re working on a manuscript and get stumped, then this tip might work wonders for you. Start near the beginning, or as far back as you think is necessary (I recommend a minimum of a chapter, to be certain) and read. While you read, revise small parts, update the style with things you’ve learned, and make the prose better where you can. Most importantly, invest yourself in your fictional world. When you get back to the part you were stumped on, a solution may have popped into your mind, or you may have changed that part and are able to go on with ease.
If you haven’t started a project, there’s still use for this tip.
Do you have any writing exercises saved up? Prompts? Do you have any short work that you haven’t looked at in a while? Use any of these as a launching point. The toughest thing about starting a story (in my experience, yours may differ) is the beginning. This takes care of the opening for you, and can be changed later on, once you know what you’re writing about.
Get Moving– Clean your house, walk your dog, play some video games (arcade type and repetitious games. You need to be able to think elsewhere) – do anything that bores the crap out of you, but keeps your body engaged in activity. Let your mind wander while you move, and try to relax. You might come up with something awesome. When you do, write it down, so you don’t lose it before finishing your activity. Jogging the body is a great way to jog the mind.
Put Your Hands Up, and Walk Away From The Computer– Sometimes, writer’s block stems from a deeper problem. Say you’ve been working on a manuscript and suddenly, one day, when you open up your document, you have no ambition, no imagination, and no idea how to move forward. Things were going well, and then just boom! A brick wall is built in your imagination.
Take a step back, and think about your work – how much have you been doing? Could you be doing more or less? How have you been sleeping? Eating? What distractions are taking a toll on your work and what can you do to avoid them? Are you stressed? What about? Are these problems important?
Ask yourself these questions and more, and figure out what you should do. If you’ve been writing your ass off and sitting at the computer for days on end, then your brain likely needs a break. That much blue light exposure isn’t good for you (not to mention the exposure to all the distractions that come with a computer). It can be hard to walk away, but doing it so is mentally rewarding.
Go read for a bit or examine some art; listen to music; have a nap, then come back to your work as soon as you can. It doesn’t take long to rest, but it can save your productivity.
Make Physical Characters to Play With – This is one I read about in a writing forum, and it’s one of the most unique ways I’ve heard of, and I’ve been thinking about trying it myself.
Remember when you were a kid, and you played with action figures, or dolls, portraying your own stories? No? Was that just me…?
Well, in either case, here’s your chance to be a child again. Draw out paper versions of your characters, and cut them out. Use them like game pieces, and play with the scenes until an idea sparks. This mostly works when you have a story going already and you’re stuck, but hey, if game pieces inspire your story, then have at er’ hoss.
You can also buy action figures if you really want, or borrow your kid’s toys to play with. You may have to explain to your peers (and probably to your kids) why you’re playing with kid’s toys, but remind yourself, and them, that you’re a writer. Odd things are expected of you, as long as you keep them legal, you shouldn’t care what people think of them. Besides, who doesn’t want to be eight years old again?
Watch A Poorly Plotted Movie of the Same Genre– Does this sound odd? You’re writing a book, so watch a movie. That’s a little backwards if you ask most people, however, it’s good to remember that you’re not after the medium, you’re after the story.
Find a movie close to the genre you’re writing about, and there’s a chance the characters in that movie may experience a situation similar to the one in your book. You can watch the movie as they screw it up, or make it work, and as you’re watching it, try and figure out all the ways you could have done it differently. Use the scene to as a thought provoker; a leaping point to help you figure out your own work.
There is one rule to this, though:
-BE ORIGINAL. DO NOT TAKE THE SCENE FROM THE WORK YOU’RE VIEWING-
So why a movie, why not a book? Because you shouldn’t seek out books you won’t enjoy. In books, we invest much more time, energy, and heart into the story. It often takes a day or two to critically examine the work.
Movies, on the other hand, can be played over and over again within a short span of time, making it an easy tool to help your imagination spark. Also, movie plots tend to be cheaper in terms of character depth, realism, and outlandish story developments. Chances are, you will have a lot of points that your mind can change, work with, and turn into your own.
My #1 Method to Killing Writer’s Block:
Keep Writing – I know, I know…I’m an asshole. I can accept that. How can you keep writing if you have no idea what you’re writing about?
This solution sounds ironic and degrades the situation, yet it works so beautifully. Keep writing, and put some words down on paper, it’s that simple. You might not come up with anything good, but that’s what the delete button is used for. Seems like a waste of time? Not really. It’s just a part of the job.
Working your way through writer’s block, is a lot like turning on a faucet that hasn’t been ran in decades. At first things will drip slowly, as the pressure builds and bursts through the gunk in the pipes. But soon, you’re imagination is unleashed, and a rush of water will come through. Sometimes, you have to do some repairs before you get that gusher, but don’t give up doing so. You’ll fix that old sink soon enough. You just need to do some work to get it going.
How Do You Tackle Writer’s block?
Let me know in comments!
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