Ah, writer’s block! It can come along at any time and sometimes without warning.
Whether or not you believe in it, writer’s block can appear in many guises and hold us back when creating. So what can you do when this happens?
I scoured the authors’ quotes so that you don’t have to, to break down ways we can get through the pesky writer’s block.
1. Write badly
“I haven’t had writer’s block. I think it’s because my process involves writing very badly.” — Jennifer Egan
It’s true that we don’t often talk about editing block, and that writer’s block happens most when we are faced with that first draft of a novel.
Permit yourself to write badly, to get the bones of your idea down on paper and worry about it later. The more you allow yourself to get writing, the easier writing will be.
2. Set a Timer or a deadline
“I don’t believe in writer’s block. Think about it — when you were blocked in college and had to write a paper, didn’t it always manage to fix itself the night before the paper was due? Writer’s block is having too much time on your hands.” — Jodi Picoult
Giving yourself a deadline, or even setting a timer for ten minutes and free writing, can really loosen up that creative faucet. If you have a deadline to stick to, you will be more likely to get words down to reach it.
3. Change the project
“I try and deal with getting stuck by having more than one thing to work on at a time. And by knowing that even a hundred bad words that didn’t exist before is forward progress.” — Neil Gaiman
If you really can’t see a way forward for your current project, that doesn’t mean that the writing game is up! Write anything else, start something new, and get that creativity flowing again. Then, you’ll have something to come back to next time you feel stuck.
4. Remove the pressure
“I deal with writer’s block by lowering my expectations. I think the trouble starts when you sit down to write and imagine that you will achieve something magical and magnificent — and when you don’t, panic sets in. The solution is never to sit down and imagine that you will achieve something magical and magnificent. I write a little bit, almost every day, and if it results in two or three or (on a good day) four good paragraphs, I consider myself a lucky man. Never try to be the hare. All hail the tortoise.” — Malcolm Gladwell
Writing a novel is like climbing a mountain. It requires one foot in front of the other, and one word after another. No one writes perfection in their first sitting, so try and remove the pressure and take it one word at a time.
5. Practice makes a writer
“Writer’s block is a misnomer and can be compared with turning off a faucet. Like the ability to write, faucets can develop problems when they’re seldom used. You get all this rust in the pipes. When you turn on the faucet, a lot of rust comes out.” — Susan Neville
Don’t let your faucet go rusty! Practice writing every week. You don’t need to write daily to be a regular writer, but try and find at least an hour a week to practice the craft and keep your creativity flowing.
6. Don’t give in
“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.” — Charles Bukowski
Write about anything. Write about what you had for lunch at school. Write about the weather. Write about having writer’s block. Just write, because the more you do, the easier it will be.
“You’re not missing the words; you’re missing the research. All ideas are a combination of preexisting ideas. So if you’re “out” of new ideas it’s probably because you don’t have enough old ideas to combine. Go back and read more. Or spend more time mapping out the book. Don’t show up to the keyboard without a plan and then tell the world you have writer’s block. You’re lying to us, and to yourself.” — David Burkus
Research can inspire ideas, new paths, add depth to current work, and so much more. If you are struggling to write today, then take a moment to research instead, and immerse yourself in the world you are creating.
There you have it, seven ways to overcome writer’s block! Which one most appeals to you?
Send me a message and let me know.
If you’re struggling with writer’s block and want to chat one-on-one about it, I’m available for coaching. You would be amazed at what a little investigation in your process and mindset can do!
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