Back to Blog List

Topics/Previous Posts

Say Goodbye to Writer's Block

Writer’s block. We imagine it like a brick wall, and to the writer, it feels no less impenetrable than one. Despite what you may feel, however, writer’s block is not a sign of the death of your creativity. Writer’s block is merely a symptom of deeper, paralyzing issues that keep you from progressing. The following tips and tricks were designed to seek out the root of the problem and, with a little work on your part, resolve them.

Diagnosing the ProblemWriters Block

Distractions. Perfectionism. Insufficient time to write. Lack of ideas. You may find yourself struggling to overcome any one of these obstacles, or perhaps a few. What many writers fail to recognize is that every form of writer’s block boils down to one thing: fear. Now, this isn’t to say that distractions or a lack of ideas aren’t legitimate problems because they are. However, they are also manifestations of your fear, rationalizations that your mind has constructed to protect yourself from the frightening experience of confronting your fear head-on. Producing anything is a harrowing experience, and books are no exception. Here you are pouring your time, effort and even the essence of yourself into this project with no guarantee that it will come to anything. It’s a frightening prospect, so you allow yourself to become distracted by other obligations. You linger over a single sentence for nearly an hour because any criticism of your book is really criticism of you, and you aren’t sure if you’re strong enough to withstand the judgment. You struggle to come up with an adequate ending because you’ve worked so hard to write the first three quarters of the book, and you’re unwilling to alter any of it to fit a different, but better, ending.  Even though it may feel like it, you aren’t the first person to ever suffer from these fears. The good news is that there are ways to combat it. Next, we’ll talk about some of the tried and true methods for knocking down the wall between you and the end of your book.

Collaborate with other Authors

Films, TV shows and even books themselves have established a false precedent that writers are solitary creatures. They isolate themselves in lonesome cabins alongside a long-forgotten lake and tap away at their typewriters with nothing but the song of the birds to accompany them. This is a nice image, but it’s just not realistic. To write well, authors need stimulation, and often the best place to get stimulation is from other authors. If you’ve been attempting to weather the storm alone thus far, it might be time to bounce some ideas off of another living being besides your cat.

Draw from your Environment

If you’re expecting your book to be the unadulterated product of your imagination alone, you’re going to run out of juice fast. The best writers are also the best observationalists. If you’re in your house, get out and people watch for an hour. Write down what you see.  John Green, author of the award-winning The Fault in Our Stars, revealed that much of his inspiration for scenes came from his immediate surroundings. If he looked up from his place in the coffee shop and saw a gas station, his next scene was at a gas station. 

Free Write

The free writing exercise has been used for many purposes, but it’s an especially indispensable tool for writers. If you find yourself suffering from perfectionism, this is the first exercise you should try.  Unlike the book you’re writing, your free-writing exercise will never be seen by anyone else. That’s why it’s the perfect place to just let loose and write whatever is on your mind. Put down on the page your frustrations with the story you’re trying to get out, what you want to eat for dinner or your dream last night. The only rule? Don’t stop. Don’t go back and fix typos. Don’t worry about the rules of grammar, punctuation or human decency. Just write. More often than not, this activity produces some buried thought or idea that provides the breakthrough you need to continue writing. At the very least, it will provide a mental stretch, a place to unwind the tangled knots that formed while you were writing your book.

Take a BreakWriter's block

Science has proven that our brains are only able to function at maximum efficiency for about 45 minutes before we begin to see the signs of mental fatigue. Hitting a metaphorical wall may be a sign that you need to get up and leave the project alone for a while. Sometimes that can mean a few hours, days, weeks, maybe even a year. Put the project in a physical or mental drawer and don’t think about it again until you can pull it out and look at it with fresh eyes. The best things in life take time.

Don’t Give Up

The last piece of advice is simply to keep on writing. The difference between unpublished authors and published ones isn’t that one is better than the other. It’s that the published one sat down and did the work. She continued to write even when it seemed like the whole world was screaming at her to stop. The most important thing here is to get rid of the idea that inspiration will come magically from above. Don’t wait for the universe to tell you to begin writing. Make time, whether you feel inspired or not. Remove yourself from distractions and create. The words won’t write themselves.

Back to Blog List