Have Writer's Block? Do This, Not That
Some tips and tricks
As a writer, well, my whole life really, I’ve had the dreaded writer’s block more times than I can count. And it's very frustrating when your creative juices run dry and you’re scraping the bottom of the idea barrel and coming up with nothing much at all.
If you feel like running up to the tallest building or most isolated ocean-side cliff and chucking your laptop or notebook and pen off the top of it and screaming ‘good riddance’ as it falls into the void, I can totally relate. And I recommend you stop before you start climbing that hill or staircase or stepping on that elevator. Because you’ll regret it. And you can’t recover a laptop smashed to smithereens, or a notebook from the bottom of the ocean (maybe if you just threw your notebook out a window, you’ll be good. But you could have to face the wrath of an angry passerby who got hit with a flying notebook!).
So what should you try instead? Here’s 5 things that have worked for me over the years and they may work for you. And really, what have you got to lose?!
1) Find a different location
If you always, without fail, sit in the same place to do your writing (maybe on your couch, or in your home office, or sitting on the toilet (no judgement here!), shake it up a bit and find a different place to write in. A change of scenery can really help kick-start that writing engine. Even take a few moments to look around you and see if there’s anything in your environment that might help – maybe there’s a crooked picture on the wall and that gives you the start to a creepy fiction story. Or maybe you’re sitting outside surrounded by beautiful nature. See if that puts you into a calmer, clearer-headed frame of mind for writing.
2) Pretend you’re someone else
If you’ve always written from your point of view (and really, you are you after all, so it’s kind of hard not to write from you!), then try to think of yourself as someone else. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes (not literally, ‘cause, ewww, and also they’d probably be like ‘why are you wearing my shoes?!’). If you’re a woman try to think of a male figure in your life and write how you think they might (and vice versa). Maybe channel your eccentric aunt who always dressed with fashion from the thrift store, or your troublesome cousin Joe who is always making a scene at family holiday get-togethers when he’s had one too many rum and cokes).
3) Write with something different
Are you a tried and true laptop lover? Or is your notebook always at your fingertips in your handbag or backpack ready to whip out at a moment’s inspiration? If so, and they aren’t sending you helpful vibes like they usually do and are just dead weight and causing you anguish because they’re weighing you down (not only physically, but mentally). Then switch it up. Trade in your laptop for an old fashioned writing implement and a pad of paper, and take your notebook out and maybe try a tablet if you’re used to the compactness for writing so using a giant laptop doesn’t feel totally foreign.
4) Write what you don’t know
You know that old adage ‘write what you know?’ Well, that can totally put you in a writing rut. So instead, write about something you know absolutely nothing about (and maybe have absolutely no interest in – because hey, you may just learn something new and possibly interesting as a bonus!). Do you usually write historical romance? Maybe try and write some sci-fi or horror. Or if you normally write non-fiction, try your hand at ‘Once upon a time…’ and see if you can come up with a new twist on an old tale. Also, if you need to actually do some research on your new subject, that’s even better! Because it might help you with whatever it is you normally write about, in some way. Like that Romance stuff. Maybe you didn’t know anything about Victorian cobblers, but now that you’ve done some research for a Steampunk story, your man-of-mystery could come from a family of shoemakers (okay, maybe not, but you get the idea).
5) Try stream of consciousness writing
Okay, this might be a little bit out there, like something from a séance, but you could always take pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and just: start writing. Whatever comes to mind. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t make sense and sounds like the ramblings of a crazy person. Just don’t stop and read what you’ve written as you’re writing it. You’re letting your subconscious have free run, and shaking out all the cobwebs in your writer’s brain in the process. Maybe set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and then after that, stop. Then you can go back and read it over and see if you can find any gems in that pile of mind-vomit, even a word or two might be the inspiration for your next big thing!
So there you have it. That’s all I’ve got. I hope it’s enough to get you on your way and back up on the writing horse (or elephant, or rocketship, whatever you might write about).