Many writers -and students around essay time- can suffer writer’s block. It can be terrifying when on a deadline, and ultimately disheartening. Many come to feel they are losing their writing skill and may give up writing completely. Don’t. Writer’s block is something we all go through. I go through it every time my obsessions switch and it can bring me a feeling of emptiness almost comparable to depression. But look: you’re reading this now, aren’t you? It’s time to avoid writer’s block once and for all!
Don’t Stop Writing
Seriously, if you get writer’s block don’t stop writing. If you can’t think of a story, write a journal –no matter how boring- that says you played Mass Effect all day: write it down. Then build on it by explaining the story of what you did in the game, as an example. This will stimulate you creatively and perhaps even inspire you to delve into the world of Sci-Fi.
But most importantly, don’t stop writing what you got stuck on. Deadlines may be approaching or you’ll never get your book published. Remember, there are trends and your ideas may be old hat by the time you pick that pen up again. So get it down. Most of the writing is in the drafting anyway.
Find Your Position
Dickens, Nabokov and Hemingway have something in common aside from being legendary writers. They all stood to write. It’s a common thing to stand or go on long walks for inspiration. Some people prefer laying down and maybe there’s someone out there who thinks best doing headstands.
You don’t have to be conventional to be a great writer. So find your position and go for it. (And if you do prefer headstands take a break every five minutes. You don’t want your eyes to pop.)
Creative When the Sun Goes Down
Everyone is most creative at a certain time of day. Most people are actually most creative in bed, just as they are on the verge of waking up or going to sleep. It is where your subconscious meets the real world and your dreams mingle with your reality. I keep a notepad by my bed and write blindly as I try falling asleep, which helps me build on ideas I had the day before.
To make sure you write every day, set a word count. It can be anything, but remember: the more words you pick, the more daunting it is. The more daunting it is, the more likely you are to avoid it. Five hundred words is the usual word count for most writers, as it isn’t too much writing but still a substantial amount.
If you miss a day DO NOT tag today’s words onto tomorrow. It must reset every day or you will likely avoid writing altogether.
This word count is a guide. If you feel more inspired today and want to keep writing, go ahead. If you really are struggling, don’t upset yourself. Get a cup of tea, have a timed nap or just go outside. If none of it works, don’t do it today. Your health is more important than any writing.
Desk, Desk and Desk
Keep a desk -or even better a room- just for your writing. This will disconnect you from the world of the bed, and promote productivity. I have no choice but to have my desk near my bed and so many times I’ve been drawn to just sleep, hoping I’ll get an idea. I never do, and I’ve just wasted three hours writing time.
On your desk there should be your writing tool, a laptop or typewriter and your notebooks of inspiration. Nearby, you should have both non-fiction and fictional books ready to help your inspiration. In an ideal world you’d have no internet, but how are you going to read online articles? Too bad. Just… block Tumblr for a while?
One that note, actually procrastinating can help. Though, I don’t think Tumblr can help much unless you follow only writing tip blogs and pretty pictures of nature. However, it has been proven that low-level tasks such as cleaning can stimulate creativity. So play Lego or make a small cup of tea. (I’m not being bizarre, Lego can actually help.)
This is why you get your best ideas in the bath or cleaning.
Use this tool sparingly, though. Or you’ll never get writing done. Seriously, only procrastinate for five or ten minutes. Use an alarm if you have to.
Keep Notebooks and Journals
Everywhere you go you will be met with unique experiences. Keep a small notebook at hand so you can write anything you find. By the end of the year you’ll have hundreds of them. This will help with your dialogue, settings and overall character creation. The world is weirder than you think. Embrace it.
I have many notebooks. Ones I carry with me. Ones I use for individual story plots. Ones I use for in-depth sociological/historical/psychological research. It makes everything far easier than keeping notes on your computer. You less likely to lose everything and you feel like a real writer with them all open around you.
There should be two playlists in your life: inspirational and writing. Inspirational can be of any genre that helps expand your mind and gives you ideas for stories. Halestorm, In This Moment, Karliene Reynolds and Sia are just some of the names in my inspirational playlist. Play this when doing cleaning or other mindless tasks.
You should have a separate playlist for writing itself, as lyrics can be distracting. This playlist should be filled with just instrumental music. I personally use soundtracks from games that have no singing. This means you are closed off from the world, but not distracted by the music. Preferably find calmer music that matches your heartbeat. I hate that music, though, so I don’t do it.
What ways have you tackled writer’s block? How did they work out?