Writer's block is one of the worst things a writer can experience. It's that terrifying span of time where words are frustratingly elusive and any you do manage to get down on a page do nothing but laugh at your failure as a human.
Unfortunately, writer's block is an inevitable part of the writing process. No matter how much we pray to the sparkly unicorn gods for it to leave us in peace, it still decides to visit us at some point and drive us absolutely mad.
Left untreated, it can last for a couple of days, or it can decide to move in and take up permanent residency for weeks or months. But over the years, I've learned some tricks that help me kick out my unwelcome visitor.
5 Tips to Combat Writer's Block:
- Shelve what you're writing. Yes, you heard me. Put away whatever you're having trouble with, and bust out one of your other projects. It can be a short story, another book or novella, or even something that needs to be edited. Many times, walking away from the story and characters we're stuck on is all we need to get our words flowing again. Looking at something different gives our brain a chance to relax. Even if it's not what we want to be working on, we're getting somewhere! We're accomplishing something, and we don't beat ourselves up for staring at the screen and reading the same 3 sentences for hours on end. If you don't have another project, this is a great time to bust out some writing prompts!
- Get off your computer. But I can't write without my computer, Andi!! What are you trying to do to me? You're crazy!! Yes, I am crazy, but not about this! You can certainly write without your computer! Grab a notebook and a pen, make a cup of tea, curl up on your favorite chair with your doggo, and take a deep breath. Many times you'll find that the simple act of freeing yourself from your computer (and phone) will let the words flow again. It's actually quite refreshing to not be bogged down by a keyboard and screen. All of a sudden, it's just you, your world, and your characters. And that stupid sentence you can't get past is no longer silently judging you!
- Change your setting. Grab your laptop (or notebook!) and get out of the house! Go to a coffee shop, bookshop, park, or library. Anywhere that you'll find relaxing and welcome. If you're not walled up in your house, surrounded by piles of laundry, screaming kids, and barking dogs, your brain can relax and focus on the task in front of you. Writing!
- Music. Putting on some music specific to your genre can help you get in the mood and help your imagination flow. I'm partial to the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit soundtracks, as well as the Lord of the Rings Online soundtrack. If you don't like to listen to music when you write, take a break, put on the music of your choosing, and close your eyes. Let yourself drift into your world. Picture your characters. Chances are, the words will start to come.
- Do something else entirely. I usually save this for my last resort, but it works! Go for a walk, clean the bathroom, work on a craft, cook or bake, play a game, get a shower, anything! Walking away entirely gives your brain a much needed rest. When you're focused on something else, you aren't forcing your brain to be creative. Ideas will often pop into your mind of their own accord, so I recommend keeping a notebook by your side when you're battling those orcs on LOTRO!
Do you have any tricks to help battle writer's block? What works for you? Share in the comments!