It’s every writer’s dread. “Writer’s block” – dun dun duuun! It just hits you out of nowhere and you’re staring at your computer screen, cursor blinking while thinking “now what?” The good news – getting rid of this thorn in your side doesn’t take magic. You probably won’t be able to avoid “writer’s block” forever but there are some things that you could be doing to drag it out.
YOU BELIEVE IN WRITER’S BLOCK
I have learned through practice that “writer’s block” isn’t real. Nothing is keeping you from picking up a pen and writing or keeping you from typing on a keyboard. The block is in your mind and it comes from lifestyle choices. If you’re not exposing yourself to new things – block. If you take everything in life at face value and don’t look deeper – block. The things keeping you from flowing are mental blocks, not writing blocks. Once you rid your mind of the idea that “writer’s block” exists, the battle will be half won.
YOU’RE NOT CONNECTED TO THE STORY
You start out like a finely oiled machine ready to produce your literary gold and then BAM! You’re not even just stuck chile you’ve fallen into a pit. You can barely finish a page without scrapping it or feeling the need to start a new chapter. It’s not easy to write about something that you don’t feel passion for. Here’s my advice. Don’t write for the money. And don’t take too long to finish. When you keep putting off an untold story it can get harder to tell it with the same fire that you had before.
YOUR ROUTINE ISN’T WORKING
Are you penning just before bed? After a long day you might be too drained to get any quality writing done. Are you trying to get words down in the midst of peace & quiet? Maybe you need background noise like a TV or the buzz of a cafe. Keep in mind that you’re always evolving as a person which means that your creative process can change. For example: I’ve always liked to write in the comfort of my home but have recently started doing writing sessions at businesses offering free WiFi. There’s less distraction so I can focus on a powerful writing session. Be open to implementing new habits along the way.
YOU’RE NOT REPLENISHING YOUR CREATIVE JUICE
As much as it might excite you to work on your book – it’s not the ONLY thing that you can do with your day. Writing draws from your creative “well” and you have fill it back up. Do things that have nothing to do with writing your book. It might sound counter productive but it works. You have to take your brain out of work mode and distract it with other things to replenish the juice. Here are some ways that I replenish mine:
-Reading a book
-Taking a nap
-Listen to music
-Try a new experience
-Doing D-I-Y projects
YOU’RE NOT FOLLOWING AN OUTLINE
Make some noise if you enjoy doing outlines. *crickets*…yeah me either. But that’ll never change the fact that outlines are a necessary part of the writing process. I know what it’s like to get struck with inspiration and fire words on a page with no plan and hit a dead end. It’s discouraging but an outline is going to remind you of what’s important, what’s not important and how things should progress. It’s never too late to start your outline so if you have 70K words written and need to regroup like I did – do it.
YOU’RE IN YOUR HEAD TOO MUCH
Will this book even sell? Do I have to many typos? Will my editor think I’m a complete idiot? I should kill this character off – no I’ll make them get sick – nooooo they’ll start a new life in Argentina.
Woosah! Breathe. You might not know all of the answers when you’re writing a book, especially if it’s your first one. You may not have found your writing “voice” or know which order to put your chapters in. Guess who’s going to help you with all of this. Your editor! Before hiring one, here are 4 questions to ask.
YOU’RE NOT DISCIPLINED ENOUGH
It can be as simple as this. You’ll never finish the book if it’s not a priority. Here are some things you can do to incorporate more discipline:
-Set a specific time to write each day
-Get an accountability partner
-Commit to writing a specific number of words each day
-Write ANYTHING. It doesn’t have to be for your book
YOU’RE ALL ALONE
Even if you enjoy writing like me, it’s not all fun. It can be a taxing process with many highs and lows but you don’t have to go through it alone. Everything is better with a friend, right? Try meeting with a fellow writer at a local library and do nothing but write. You can critique each other’s work or bounce ideas off of each other. Don’t force yourself to go through finishing a book all on your own. Having support can spark an idea or bring motivation at just the right moment.
Candace, how am I supposed to do this and live my everyday life?! I know that this might sound like a lot to incorporate especially if you’re a new writer. The good news is that things get easier once you put them into practice and understand what mix of things work best for you. Choose one to incorporate this week and see how it goes. I’d love to hear about your progress!
Until next time…