7 Ways to Fight Writer’s Block
“I’ve often said that there’s no such thing as writer’s block; the problem is idea block.” – Jeffrey Deaver
Jeffrey Deaver isn't the only person who doesn't believe in the dreaded concept. Shonda Rhimes, the force behind binge-worthy television dramas like Grey's Anatomy and Bridgerton, doesn't believe in writer's block. When she can't think of what to write on one project, she'll move to another and write something for it instead.
And on the topic of writer's block, Patrick Rothfuss said, “Sometimes, writing is super hard. Just like any other job. Or, if it’s not your job, sometimes it’s hard to do a thing even if it is your hobby. But no plumber ever gets to call in to work, and they’re like ‘Jake, I have plumber’s block,' you know? What would your boss say? ! I have teacher’s block. I have accounting block. They would say ‘You are fired! You have problems and you are fired. Get your ass in here and plumb some stuff, Jerry!'”
Why Does Writer's Block Happen?
When your words fail to make it to the page, writer's block certainly feels real enough. No matter what you call it, the results are the same. The words aren't making it from your brain to the page.
So, why do we writers suffer through this terrible condition? There are as many reasons as there are authors, but let's review three of the more well-known ones.
- STRESS – Stress is a silent killer, and not just for humans. Some people do their best work under the stress of a looming deadline. Unfortunately, most of us are not this person and stress ends up killing time that we should be writing.
- ANXIETY – In today's society, there are more reasons to have anxiety than to not have it. All too often, the more worries you have, the less words you get on the page.
- TIME – Or rather, lack of time. How many of your days have ended with you looking at the clock and finding that you're surprised at the late hour. Where did the day go? You thought you'd have time to write later, but later came and went while you were looking at cat memes. (Okay. So, we don't all look at cat memes. But c'mon. They're cat memes!)
This list could go on, but you get the idea. Pinpointing the cause of your writer's block is one of the first steps in formulating a plan to tackle it once and for all.
Ways to Fight Writer's Block
Now let's dive into some solutions you can use to help fight writer's block. These aren't your run-of-the-mill pieces of advice like “get a good night's sleep” or “make sure to stay hydrated.” After all, these are things we should be doing to stay in tip-top shape.
- Wear Headphones – You don't even need to have anything playing through them. Wearing headphones, earbuds, etc. helps turn surrounding sounds into a kind of white noise that helps quell distractions. And most people will see them as a kind of sign around your neck that says, “Go away. I'm writing.”
- Set the Tone – Writers love rituals. Think about your environment on your best writing day and try to recreate it. You might need scented candles, a beverage in your favorite coffee mug, the music of your favorite video game soundtrack (We love Skyrim.) or movie score (Lord of the Rings, anyone?), or that t-shirt that you've worn until it's softer than a new puppy.
- Make a List – Grab a pen and something on which to write—an empty journal page, the back of an old envelope, the empty side of an Amazon shipping box, or anything else you have lying around.
Now make a list of 10 things about your main character. It could be their top ten songs, favorite foods, or items on their bucket list. Chances are, by the time you finish the list you'll have learned something about them that you didn't know before. Hopefully, you'll be excited enough that you'll want to go write about it!
- Go Outside – If it's safe to do so, step outside for a few minutes. If it's sunny out, turn your face towards those warm rays, close your eyes, and let the last thing you wrote play out like a movie in your mind until the next scene naturally follows.
- Be Your Character – Read some of the dialogue that you've already written in your character's voice. Put yourself in their shoes. Copy their accent, if they have one. If there's someone you trust to read with you, then ask them to do a table read (even if it's over video chat) like actors do before shooting a television show. Sometimes you have to get into your character's headspace to know what they're going to do next.
- Set a Timer and Write – Open a brand new document or flip to an empty journal page. Set a timer for anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes and write whatever is in your head. It's okay to start with, “I have no idea what to write. Writing is difficult. Why must it be this way?” because the more you write, the easier it will be to get yourself into the mindset of writing.
- Clean Your House – Nobody really loves cleaning their house. People like to have a clean house, but the actual chores are gross. So, go get out the cleaning supplies and start scrubbing those dishes, baseboards, and windows. Chances are that you'd rather do anything else than clean, even if it's sitting down to write. And if you are someone who loves to clean, then it's a win-win for you.
If you need someone to talk about your book with, then head over to Novel Publicity's Editing Services page. We'd love to help you break through that wall so you can finish and publish your book!