Beating “The Block”September 14, 2009 at 6:38 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Writers’ block. It’s something that every writer gets at some point and it’s the worst. That feeling that you just don’t know what to write. Watching the days pass without a single word to write. Something that I’ve had a lot of lately, so I decided to share a few suggestions on how to get past it.
WARNING: These ideas usually don’t work on writing depression. If anyone knows how to get rid of that, let me know.They also don’t work for everyone. Everyone has their own method of beating the block and these are just a few suggestions.
Set a schedule — This works quite well for me. Set aside a period of time that you are going to write. Turn everything off (except music if you like to write to it) and then work until time’s up. If you want to work past that, then great! Don’t allow yourself to procrastinate. I have a system where at the start of every hour, I turn off the internet and I’m not allowed to turn it on for 15 minutes. It doesn’t matter if you write, brainstorm, outline, polish, or just stare at the word doc as long as your concentration is on your work. This also works very well for beta reading.
Set a goal — Set a word count, page count, or editing goal for each day. Mine used to be 1,000 words a day and then I changed it to 250 words per day because of the writers’ block. Set it small so you can achieve it. Because saying ‘I wrote 500 words today, which is two times my goal’ is a lot better than saying ‘I wrote 500 words today and didn’t come close to hitting my goal.’ It’s also great motivation to have writer friends that you can report to and encourage each other.
Skip ahead to another scene — If you’re having trouble with a particular scene because you just don’t know how you want it to go, skip ahead. Sometimes I write out of order because I have an idea for one scene and I really want to write it. That gives me something to aim for when I go back and write in between.
Take a break — if you’re really struggling and not making any progress, take a break. It could be for a few hours or even a week or two. For a shorter break, watch a movie, read a book, go for a walk, do something else. If you do go for a walk, take a piece of paper and a pen with you. I’ve been known to come up with random ideas while walking and then writing them down while I keep walking. Movies and books that you love are also great for getting rid of writers’ block. It was while watching Prince Caspian that I got over my writers’ block for Assassin’s Wife one day.
Work on something else — this goes with ‘take a break’ as well. Get out another novel that you’re working on if you have one or work on a piece of flash fiction or a short story. Sometimes working on another WIP can really help you get past writers’ block. Which is part of the reason why I have three. Just try not to go overboard like I did…
Brainstorm — if you’re stuck on where to go next with a story, sit down with a blank Word doc and do a little brainstorming. Make a bulleted list of ideas. Write them all down, no matter how silly. It’s just a brainstorm sheet and you don’t have to use any idea that you write down. No one else is going to see it so don’t worry about anything that sounds stupid. I seemingly stupid idea can lead to a great idea that gets rid of your writers’ block.
Do a 100 Questions for Your Character sheet — This has actually been very helpful for me. You can Google ‘100 questions for your character’ and get quite a few sites that have lists like these. Most of them are for roleplays, but that shouldn’t stop you from using them. You can even create your own if you’d like. Answer the questions in your character’s voice. You don’t have to answer them all and you don’t have to do them in order. Just a few can give you a great idea of your character’s personality and help break through writers’ block.
Listen to music — if you don’t always listen to music while you write, try listening to some now. The most random song can give you an idea. If you have a playlist for your story then listen to it. If you don’t, think about creating one. If you’re like me and don’t have a story playlist because you don’t know enough songs, then just listen to the radio or your regular playlist or Ipod set on shuffle.
Do Dishes — Now, don’t run away! Come back, I have a reason for this one! I swear to Destiny, doing dishes is like magic for my writers’ block. Just yesterday I was having trouble figuring out a particular plot point for Jump and my mom asked me to do some dishes for her. I washed one plate and had to go running for my bedroom to type down an idea before I could forget it. Now maybe your magical ‘getting rid of the block’ activity isn’t doing dishes. Try different things and see if you can find something that works for you.
So give these a try and good luck! I’m off to try to get some writing done myself. :)
~ Rachael aka Horserider
This post was originally posted on my own blog on August 17th, minus the doing dishes tip.