5 tips to get past writer’s block
I recently read a post by a fellow writer who talked about how she doesn’t have the luxury for writer’s block. Like me, she is a busy mother who also works, so when there’s time to write we MUST take advantage of that time or lose it. With so little extra time, losing it takes a heavy toll.
Her contention was that she doesn’t get writer’s block because she can’t afford to. I agree with her, but as I pondered the post I realized that I do sometimes get writer’s block, I’ve just had to come up with ways to deal with it as quickly as possible. Here are five of those ways:
1) Read something
That’s right, grab someone else’s work and read it. Flip through a magazine. Read a chapter of one of the books you’re in the middle of. You could even read a short story or a chapter of one of your other pieces of writing. Sometimes, a turn of phrase will catch your fancy, or an idea will lead you to further research. Inspiration can come from places you don’t expect.*
2) Take a brain break
Yep, seems counter-intuitive. Take a break when there’s no time to waste? But the truth is that you can’t force it, either. So do something else — something that you’ve been wanting to do; something that gets your juices flowing. Just be sure to set a timer (about 15 min usually works for me) so that you can try to get back to writing while you’ve still got time to do it.
3) Write something else
So you’ve got a block that won’t let you move forward with your main story and characters? Write a different story. Maybe with different characters. Or maybe just a totally different part of this story that you haven’t gotten to yet. Maybe skip to the end you’ve envisioned and write that scene. Either way, the key is to keep writing.
4) Draw a picture
This tip came from one of the pieces I read in preparation for NaNoWriMo last fall. Sometimes, the reason you’re blocked is because you just can’t picture it. No matter whether you’re good at drawing or whether (like me) your drawings are still riddled with stick figures, try sketching something about your story. Maybe it’s something your characters are wearing. Maybe it’s a map of their city, street, or house. Or maybe you just try a quick Tangle (see my post on Zentangle for more info). But just using that part of your brain can help get the other creative parts working as well.
5) Walk the stairs
It is well known that exercise can get your brain working again. However, if you’ve got limited time to write, you probably can’t throw on your sweats and head to the gym either. So you take the exercise you can get. Walk up and down the stairs three or four times. Or you could do a few yoga poses, squats, or sit ups. Just take five minutes to get your body moving and your blood flowing to your brain. Then get yourself back into that chair and write.
I hope these tips help you get past your next bout of writer’s block!
*For example, I was once writing a tricky scene on a pirate ship, and got an idea from reading a few chapters of a Geronimo Stilton book to my kids.
(image: Throes of Creation by Leonid Pasternak; from Wikimedia Commons)